Pennsylvania officially took the first step toward improved air quality as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced new draft general permits to reduce methane emissions and other pollution emitted by Pennsylvania’s natural gas facilities. The permits were presented at a meeting of the DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC). These are the first state standards that directly address oil and gas methane pollution in Pennsylvania.
Methane and other industry emissions can worsen air quality, increase global warming and result in unnecessary waste of natural gas resources. The draft permits require natural gas operators to check new equipment for leaks on a quarterly basis. Companies must then attempt to repair the leak within five calendar days.
Smart, Proven Standards
According to recent data from the Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas producers emit 100,000 tons of methane a year. Leaks are one of the leading sources of emissions, and EPA finds quarterly inspections are effective at reducing 80% of leaks, where annual inspections reduce only 40%.
With this proposal, the Wolf administration moves forward with its four-point plan to reduce methane emissions from natural gas operations, a plan announced in January 2016. The plan also calls for standards that will reduce leaks at existing oil and gas facilities, and for companies to establish best management practices for reducing emissions from the production, gathering, transmission and distribution sectors.
“Today, Governor Tom Wolf took an important step to follow through on his commitment to protect Pennsylvania families from the impacts of oil and gas development,” said Andrew Williams, Senior State Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Manager for Environmental Defense Fund. “These commonsense controls are cost-effective, readily available and already used by many Pennsylvania companies. We still have a long way to go but today, Pennsylvania has served notice to industry claims that these measures have no environmental benefit when they absolutely do.”
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