“Make some money producing natural gas or have healthy humans — that’s the real choice. You can’t have it both ways. (It’s never been done before, anywhere; we shouldn’t experiment in Pennsylvania.)The imperative to human health has never been clearer: Keep the carbon in the ground.”
“I encourage the BLM and EPA to work quickly to finalize rules that regulate all sources of oil and gas
methane emissions. Now that President Obama has directed EPA to propose a rule that regulates
methane emissions not just from new oil and gas operations, but from existing ones as well, the EPAshould work swiftly to write and propose these critical safeguards.”
Wolf realizes the pollution is real and problematic, and I applaud him for taking action. Our Pennsylvania constitution grants us the right to clean air and water within the Commonwealth, and that’s all we citizens ask.
If we’re going to prevent this catastrophe, we need to accelerate the solutions. One such solution is controlling methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Natural gas is mostly methane, an extremely potent contributor to climate change that accounts for one-quarter of the world’s current warming. Globally, the oil-and-gas sector is our largest industrial source of methane emissions.
n Pennsylvania alone, operators released at least 97,000 metric tons of methane in 2014, though officials say the real figure could easily be eight times higher. In fact, if just one percent of the natural gas produced in the state is escaping — and experts say that’s a lowball — then Pennsylvania companies could be emitting close to 780,000 metric tons of methane a year, and throwing away saleable product worth over $125 million.
The nationwide issue is the vulnerability to leaks — both subtle and, occasionally, dramatic — of vast amounts of aging, poorly monitored and inadequately inspected gas and oil infrastructure.
Ohio’s oil and natural gas producers reported spewing more than 13,000 metric tons of industrial methane pollution and toxic chemicals into the air in 2014. These nonstop leaks, invisible to the naked eye, had the same climate impact as driving 70,000 cars for a year.
There are many types of polluting oil and gas equipment aside from wells: tanks, pumps, compressor stations, pipelines. These sources emit not just methane but also more-harmful substances, such as benzene. Emissions of other chemicals form ozone smog, which can trigger deadly asthma attacks in children and old people.
But a national problem needs a national solution. The federal government could require systematic leak detection and repair at facilities like Aliso Canyon, but so far it hasn’t taken that step. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed methane emission standards for new or heavily modified facilities, but the plan does nothing to curb emissions from existing wells and infrastructure that are the source of the problem today. The federal Transportation Department, which has jurisdiction over some facilities, is only now beginning to act.