Author Archives: Andrew Williams

Why Are Pennsylvania’s Oil & Gas Emissions Going Up?

NatlGasFlares_142558250_Photos-RFA new report reveals that harmful emissions from oil and gas development are increasing.  This is bad news for Pennsylvania families who have been repeatedly told by industry trade groups that pollution is under control.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, in 2014 oil and gas companies emitted nearly 110,000 tons of methane – a powerful climate pollutant that’s rapidly accelerating global warming. That represents an increase over the previous year. With 2016 on pace to be the warmest year ever recorded, we should be reducing methane emissions, not increasing them. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania| Read 4 Responses

Ohio Gov. Kasich Moves to Reduce Environmental Impact of Natural Gas Industry

The administration of Ohio Governor John Kasich announced today that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is taking another important step to reduce harmful air pollution from natural gas operations.

This isn’t the first time the Kasich administration has moved to address air pollution from the oil and gas industry. In 2014 Ohio joined Colorado and Wyoming in requiring operators to conduct quarterly inspections at well sites to find and fix emissions from leaking equipment. Today’s action extends these requirements upstream, and – notably — proposes to regulate both VOCs and methane, a move that helps cement Ohio’s position as one of the leading states on this issue.

Comprehensive methane rules are also under development in Pennsylvania (the nation’s second largest gas producer) and California (the nation’s third largest oil producer). Under both Republican and Democratic leadership, each of these states has recognized the benefits of keeping harmful emissions out of the air and valuable product in the pipeline. At the same time, they’re proving that these policies are highly cost-effective to implement. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Pennsylvania Announces Plan for Strongest Methane Rules in the Nation

(From left to right) John Quigley, Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environment Protection, joins Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at a Facebook town hall event Jan. 19 to announce plans to regulate methane emissions from the state's oil and gas industry.

(From left to right)
John Quigley, Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environment Protection, joins Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at a Facebook town hall event Jan. 19 to announce plans to regulate methane emissions from the state's oil and gas industry.

Pennsylvania leaders have a duty to protect Keystone residents from oil and gas pollution.  Fortunately, Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection  took an important step in that direction this week when they released a blueprint for cutting methane pollution from the natural gas industry.

“The goal here is to cover not only new sources of methane and VOC emissions [from oil and gas facilities], but also existing sources over time,” DEP Secretary John Quigley told hundreds of viewers during a live Facebook town hall event yesterday. “We want to have a comprehensive emissions program that is nation-leading. I think it’s the strongest set of provisions in the country, and I think the number two natural gas producing state in the nation should have the best regulations. That’s what we’re going to have in Pennsylvania.”

That’s a bold and laudable commitment – one that deserves our support to help make sure the promise becomes reality. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania| Tagged | Comments are closed

The Oil Patch Environmentalist

My passion for protecting the environment dates back to the 1850s – a farm from the 1850s, that is. I gained an early respect for water and land conservation, learning from my grandfather as he tended to our 4th generation family farm just outside of Neosho in Southwestern Missouri. Our farm is spring fed, so you have to be able to manage your water usage very well. I had the opportunity to participate in all aspects of running a farm, from irrigation to plowing the fields. On top of managing the farm, my grandfather was head of Neosho’s water department and we spent a lot of time hiking and fishing in nature. Water, land and the outdoors were at the center of everything he loved, and through his example it became clear to me at a very young age that managing your impact on the environment was of the utmost importance.

I grew up in Tulsa, just a few hours southwest of the family farm. Once known as the oil capital of the world, Tulsa has a long and proud history of oil production. By some estimates, a quarter of all jobs in Oklahoma are tied to the energy sector. As early as high school, I was involved in environmental advocacy, even in the oil patch. That may sound contradictory – environmental advocacy in the oil capital – but I figured out along the way that the industry and environmental stewardship weren’t mutually exclusive. My family taught me a practical and pragmatic approach to protecting the environment, and reiterated that the lessons of conservation learned on my family’s farm could have relevance to the oil and gas industry that surrounded me.

Being from Oklahoma, there weren’t many career options outside of working in the oil and natural gas industry. I spent nearly ten years working in the industry, starting in the environmental department of a small company and working my way up to the executive team. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas| Tagged | Read 1 Response

Pennsylvania Could Take The Lead On Addressing Air Impacts From Oil And Gas Production

Source: Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

After being caught off guard by the early winds of the shale gale, Pennsylvania officials have been in a near-constant state of regulatory and legislative activity for the last few years, working to put rules in place to reduce the risks posed by the increase in natural gas development.  We’ve given PA high marks on some of those efforts, and we’ve disagreed strenuously with others.  But we believe in giving credit where credit is due – and the Keystone State certainly deserves credit for the long hours that officials and stakeholders have devoted to improving regulations.

In some critical areas, such as reducing air pollution from leaky equipment located at natural gas processing plants and compressor stations, the Bureau of Air Quality at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has demonstrated real leadership.

Now, DEP has revised its technical guidance document known as Exemption 38, narrowing the eligibility criteria for the air quality permit exemption.  Astonishingly, under the previous version almost all oil and gas production facilities were exempted from the state’s air quality requirements. Past guidance for Exemption 38 considered well sites and all the equipment associated with them to be “minor sources” – even though they can individually contribute to poor air quality conditions, particularly in densely populated areas.   In Pennsylvania 90 percent of wells are concentrated in ten counties, with just three counties accounting for 50 percent of all wells.  Without proper pollution controls and monitoring, this intensive development can easily lead to unhealthy local air quality. Read More »

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