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Pennsylvania addresses oil and gas methane emissions

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have recommended steps for regulatory action to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania, the second largest producer of natural gas in the country.

“Methane is a powerful pollutant escaping in large volumes from thousands of oil and gas facilities nationwide,” said Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President. “Governor Wolf’s recommendation for action signals an important commitment that Pennsylvania will no longer ignore the air quality and climate impacts caused by the state’s extensive natural gas development.”

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is released into the atmosphere when natural gas is leaked, vented or flared. It is a potent climate pollutant responsible for about a quarter of today’s global warming. Methane is also often emitted with other smog-forming pollutants that in recent years have exacerbated health concerns in many areas of Pennsylvania.

“Today’s announcement by Governor Wolf is welcome news and sets the stage for much needed regulatory clarity that will improve air quality, protect Pennsylvanians, and have significant impacts on the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Davitt Woodwell, President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “This is an important step, and Governor Wolf is right to commit to best-in-class management of the impacts of natural gas development including the strong air quality protections that Pennsylvanians deserve. We look forward to swift implementation.”

Action to reduce oil and gas emissions is building. In August 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first national limits of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, following similar steps taken in Colorado, Wyoming, Ohio and California. EPA’s rules target methane reductions from future oil and gas operations and do not address emissions from oil and gas facilities already in operation. Pennsylvania’s proposal, if turned into regulation, will help reduce emissions from the thousands of oil and gas facilities already in operation in Pennsylvania.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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