(Washington, D.C. – January 19, 2016) National environmental advocacy groups today expressed gratitude to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for acting on climate as he previewed rules that will cut methane pollution from the state's oil and gas sector. Pennsylvania, as the second largest natural gas producing state in the U.S., is a significant contributor of the man-made methane pollution that is warming the planet at an alarming rate as it worsens the state's already-poor air quality.
“We thank Gov. Wolf for listening to our members and residents across Pennsylvania who are fed up with the fossil fuel industry and its near-total disregard for our environment and public health,” said Justin Wasser, Pennsylvania campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “So long as fossil fuel extraction continues in Pennsylvania, we must do everything we can to ensure that its impacts are minimized. Similarly, we continue to call on the EPA to extend its recently-announced methane rules to include existing sources of emissions as Gov. Wolf has wisely seen fit to do.”
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 87 times more so than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after its release into the atmosphere. This near-term warming of our climate is manifesting itself in extreme weather events from superstorms and floods to years-long droughts, altered growing cycles for farmers, and invasive species and pests that are wreaking havoc on the Pennsylvania landscape. Absent immediate action, the consequences of this warming may be irreversible.
“Several years into the shale gas boom, it's tragically clear that the health of Pennsylvanians is being harmed by the pollution from rampant development. We appreciate that Gov. Wolf's administration has recognized that the state must take action,” said Nadia Steinzor, Eastern program coordinator for Earthworks. “We look forward to helping ensure that the final methane control rules are strong enough to reduce harm to people and the climate and effective enough to hold industry accountable. Methane and associated toxic air pollution can and should be controlled nationwide. The EPA should follow Pennsylvania's lead and regulate existing sources of methane immediately.”
“Pennsylvania’s expanding oil and gas operations are responsible for massive amounts of methane pollution that fuel climate change and threaten public health,” said Mark Szybist, senior program advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The actions announced by Gov. Wolf today are a much-needed step to cut the state’s contribution to this rampant air pollution problem. We will continue to work with the governor and his administration to combat climate change and usher in an era of clean energy that will power us into the future.”
“With Pennsylvania’s recent boom in shale gas development, the state has become responsible for an increasing amount of methane pollution,” said Darin Schroeder, associate attorney, Clean Air Task Force. “We support Gov. Wolf’s announcement today, an action that signals Pennsylvania is taking a lead role in battling this potent greenhouse gas. We look forward to working with Pennsylvania throughout this process, and to pushing EPA to follow suit in issuing strong new and existing source regulations.”