Bipartisan, bicameral legislators join call for quick, strong advancement of methane rules in face of federal rollbacks

HARRISBURG, Sept. 17 – A bipartisan group of state legislators joined environmental organizations today to urge Gov. Tom Wolf to advance a crucial state Department of Environmental Protection rule to cut methane pollution from the natural gas industry.

The legislators urged the governor to act on his 2016 plan now, in the face of proposed rollbacks of federal methane standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Controls that Wolf’s administration already emplaced cover new oil and gas drilling technology. The lawmakers said they also want Wolf to enact standards that cover methane emissions on existing sources of infrastructure used for natural gas development.

“The climate crisis is urgent, and targeting infrastructure that has been polluting Pennsylvania for nearly a decade is necessary to protect clean air – especially as the Trump administration moves in the opposite direction,” said Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery.

Recent analysis by Environmental Defense Fund found that methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, the second largest in the nation, are five times higher than what is reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection – a staggering 520,000 tons of methane every year.

“Gov. Wolf stood with us in July as we announced the state’s entry into the U.S. Climate Alliance and pointed to methane reduction as one of the solutions. Pennsylvania needed him to move forward with regulations then, and we still do,” said Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks. “The climate crisis is exploding all around us, and Pennsylvanians are demanding action. Methane emissions account for 25 percent of the climate change we are experiencing globally. At the national level, even major oil companies such as Shell and XTO – both of which operate in Pennsylvania – opposed the federal government rolling back methane rules.”

In April, Wolf enjoined Pennsylvania to the U.S. Climate Alliance by announcing the state’s support for the Paris Agreement. The move followed more than 100 local governments (including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), businesses, investors, higher education institutions, and more that have also backed the agreement.

“Methane pollution must be reduced and eliminated,” said state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester. “It’s clear that Washington is not going to help us. Pennsylvania must step up to ensure the safety of our children and families. I support Gov. Wolf’s plan to protect clean air, and I look forward to further action as we keep Pennsylvania a great place to live, work and raise healthy families.”

“All companies must be held to a high standard and cut methane emissions from their operations here in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Chris Quinn, R-Delaware. “I’m saying to Gov. Wolf, please finish the job and advance the rule you proposed to the Environmental Quality Board and cut methane pollution from existing natural gas infrastructure. It makes both economic and environmental sense.”

“The Pennsylvania constitution recognizes our right to clean air,” said Sen. Tom Killion, R-Chester/Delaware. “In light of these troublesome federal rollbacks, I urge Gov. Wolf to advance the proposed state rules on methane emissions as quickly as possible.”

“Methane emissions – especially those from oil and gas activities – are shown to have accelerated climate change significantly,” said Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks. “This call for regulation on our air is even more urgent now, given the federal government’s strategy to undo environmental protections.”