PA Environmental Community Applauds Governor Wolf for Permits to Control Methane Pollution from New Sources of Natural Gas
Concerned residents and environmental groups look forward to Governor Wolf extending his leadership to advance standards for existing sources of natural gas pollution
Harrisburg, PA – This week, in a major milestone, Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are moving forward with the finalization of permits to control air pollution from new natural gas operations. These landmark permits, GP-5 and GP-5A, will reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and volatile organic compounds, which pose significant public health risks to Pennsylvania communities.
Governor Wolf first announced his intent to reduce methane pollution from new and existing natural gas sources in 2014 and formally announced his methane reduction strategy in January 2016. Residents affected by natural gas operations, along with environmental and public health advocacy groups, have been outspoken in their support for his plan. Just two weeks ago, residents of impacted communities delivered 30,000 comments to the governor’s office in support of comprehensive methane pollution standards.
“The tools and technologies to drastically cut methane pollution in our communities already exist, but the industry has largely chosen not to invest in the right safeguards. The new permitting process will ensure that operators are taking appropriate steps to limit pollution in the communities where they plan to set up shop,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action. “Governor Wolf is making great strides, and there is still work to be done to ensure all existing sources of pollution are addressed.”
“Governor Wolf has listened to the needs of his constituents and delivered some of the strongest protections for new pollution sources in the nation,” said Rob Altenburg, Director of the PennFuture Energy Center. “We now look forward to his administration turning their attention to the tens of thousands of existing sources of natural gas pollution in our state and issuing a quick proposal to properly regulate them as well.”
GP-5A, which covers unconventional gas wells and remote pigging operations, and GP-5, which covers compressor stations, processing plants, and transmission stations, will help streamline the approval process for industry operators provided they adhere to the permit conditions. The permits will apply to a greater universe of sources than EPA’s federal methane rules, and their requirements will bring Pennsylvania in line with other leading natural gas states.
“While EPA continues efforts to dismantle commonsense clean air protections at the federal level, we are proud to see our governor taking action to establish strong standards here in Pennsylvania,” said Joseph Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “As the second largest producer of natural gas in the country, Pennsylvania must demonstrate responsible leadership. Fulfilling that role will require taking the next step to apply similar regulations to existing sources of methane emissions.”
“Pennsylvania residents have been living, working and sending their children to schools in areas with known health and safety risks,” said Jamin Bogi, Policy and Outreach Coordinator for Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP). “These permits are an important step in the right direction, and we need to slow the constant stream of toxic pollutants from natural gas sites already in operation. The time is now for Governor Wolf to follow through on standards for existing sources.”