Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lawmakers to EPA: Enact drilling air pollution regulations

State Rep. Greg Vitali

HARRISBURG, Oct. 25 – Twenty-seven state representatives have written the federal Environmental Protection Agency, urging it to immediately enact regulations it is considering to reduce air pollution from natural gas and oil drilling.

The lawmakers, including state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, said air quality has become more of a concern as Marcellus Shale gas drilling expands in Pennsylvania. The state currently has more than 4,000 Marcellus Shale drill pads.

"Oil and gas operations are the source of significant air pollution – from exploration to production and processing," the lawmakers wrote. "In fact, the oil and gas industry releases nationally millions of tons of pollutants like methane, benzene, and sulfur dioxide into our air each year."

The letter notes that more than half of Pennsylvanians live in an area that fails to meet EPA's air quality standards for smog and nearly 800,000 suffer from asthma.

The new regulations would cut smog-forming air pollutants from the industry by 25 percent and reduce airborne toxics, which pose a cancer risk, from the production, transmission and storage of natural gas by 30 percent.

The Oil and Natural Gas Air Pollution Standards were first proposed July 27 and the comment period ended Monday.

In addition, the representatives asked EPA to consider developing even tougher regulations to further protect air quality. They suggested:

· Requiring the use of best available technology in all oil and gas operation.

· Improving monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

· Regulating all significant emissions sources like pits, ponds and blowdowns at well heads.

· Regulating all relevant air pollutants, especially methane and hydrogen sulfide.

· Prohibiting all burn off of un-captured gas.

· Requiring existing pollution sources, not just new ones, to comply with the rules.

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