Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gop Legislator Slams Dep Strategy for Limiting Methane Leaks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gop Legislator Slams Dep Strategy for Limiting Methane Leaks

Article excerpt

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, is accusing Pennsylvania environmental regulators of showing a "blatant disregard for the law" with their strategy for curbing methane emissions from oil and gas facilities.

In a letter Friday to the acting secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, the chairman of the House State Government Committee said DEP is skirting the state's comprehensive process for adopting regulations by proposing to institute new methane controls at shale gas well sites and compressor stations through permit changes instead.

"The General Assembly specifically enacted the Regulatory Review Act in 1982 to address precisely what your agency is embodying right now as it seeks to advance complex and costly new regulations through ... permits: lack of transparency, accountability and judicious use of regulatory authority," Mr. Metcalfe wrote.

A DEP spokesman said the agency's process for changing the oil and gas air pollution control permits is consistent with the law.

The agency is facing mounting opposition from the natural gas industry and members of the Republican-controlled Legislature over planned rules for curtailing methane escaping from Pennsylvania's spreading network of wells and pipelines, an environmental priority for the Democratic Wolf administration. Public health and environmental groups are pushing for DEP to enact stronger rules.

Methane is a far more potent, but shorter lived, greenhouse gas compared with carbon dioxide and is the primary component of natural gas.

Methane levels in the atmosphere are rising globally and recent research has identified agriculture as a key contributor, but a study last week by Drexel University scientists found that natural gas production appears to be the primary cause of a pronounced increase in methane concentrations in northeastern Pennsylvania between 2012 and 2015. …

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