Lawmakers, activists call on the Wolf administration to strengthen methane regulations

Written by on June 25, 2021

Lawmakers, activists call on the Wolf administration to strengthen methane regulations

By Rachel McDevitt / StateImpact PA

June 25, 2021

In this 2018 photo, scientists from Carnegie Mellon use mobile labs to detect methane leaks from the natural gas industry. Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Some lawmakers and environmental groups are calling on the Wolf administration to strengthen a proposed regulation that aims to curb emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane before the rule comes up for a final vote. But the proposal exempts tens of thousands of low-producing wells.

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Methane, the main component of natural gas, has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

Lawmakers and activists recently gathered outside the state capitol to call for more strict regulations on gas industry emissions.

State Sen. Katie Muth (D–Montgomery) calls the exemption “absurd.”

“We all face a simple choice here in Pennsylvania: do we fight for the people who breathe our air, or for the gas wells that pollute it?” Muth says. 

Lawmakers who form a climate caucus and groups such as Clean Air Council and Clean Water Action say the new rule should apply to all gas wells and that sites should be inspected more often than once every three months.

Lois Bower-Bjornson, a Clean Air Council field organizer from Washington County, says her family has already suffered health impacts from living near fracking.

On the steps of the state capitol, she says the governor should try to protect future generations from the effects of climate change.

“I’m asking Gov. Wolf to please close the loophole on low producing wells; they are all around us,” Bower-Bjornson says. 

The board that oversees environmental regulations is expected to consider the final draft regulation later this summer.

Industry reps say many companies already monitor emissions at their sites and are making their own commitments to cut methane leaks. The Wolf administration says the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing public comments on the rule and will make revisions where appropriate.

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