Pennsylvanians want climate action; methane offers an opportunity for Gov. Shapiro to deliver

Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along PA Route 87, Lycoming County.

Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along PA Route 87, Lycoming County.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli

By John Rutecki

As we wrap up a summer of sweltering heat waves and dangerous air quality, new poll results show strong majorities of Pennsylvanians want action to address the climate crisis. The poll from EDF Action, Earthworks Action Fund, Sierra Club and Clean Air Task Force Action found that the majority of Pennsylvanians support one of the best ways to slow the current rate of warming — cutting methane pollution.

Methane from fossil fuel operations, agriculture and other industries is responsible for at least 30% of current warming.

With the U.S. EPA finalizing its nationwide methane rule for oil and gas producers this fall, Gov. Shapiro has the opportunity to give the majority of Pennsylvanians what they want by delivering a strong state implementation plan to reduce methane emissions.

Keystone state voters overwhelmingly support methane regulations

The poll found a strong majority of voters in Pennsylvania, 69%, support the EPA strengthening and finalizing stricter limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and 73% of Pennsylvanian swing voters support stronger methane limits. When asked about potential outcomes of the EPA setting stronger limits on methane emissions, most Pennsylvania voters agreed that there would be positive impacts on climate change (57%), air quality (66%) and family health (63%).

Pennsylvanians want climate action; methane offers an opportunity for Gov. Shapiro to deliver Click To Tweet

Supporting strong methane regulations also gives elected officials a boost. The poll found that on a ballot centering methane, the candidate supporting strong regulations had a substantial lead over the candidate opposed to them. When presented with head-to-head arguments for and against methane regulations, voters still supported the regulations 55% to 44%.

Pennsylvania voters were also more likely to agree that stronger safeguards will create more jobs through innovation and new technologies (56%).

EPA proposed rule includes policies popular with voters

The EPA’s proposed rule would rein in methane by requiring inspections at all oil and gas wellsites, including at leak-prone low-producing wells, which make up nearly 90% of Pennsylvania’s wells. The current proposal also phases out pollution from new and existing pneumatic controllers, which are the second largest source of methane pollution.

These policies are popular with Pennsylvanians. The poll found a majority of Pennsylvania voters support regular inspections of leaks at all oil and gas wells, tougher equipment standards and monitoring of large “super emitter” emissions events. It’s also important — and 60% of Pennsylvania voters agree — that the EPA strengthen its proposal to eliminate routine flaring at oil and gas sites.

The people of the Commonwealth want decisive climate action. The upcoming EPA methane rule is an essential opportunity to protect Pennsylvanians from pollution. And once final, these rules will offer the Shapiro Administration a critical opportunity to deliver on these popular policies through a strong and quickly adopted state implementation plan. Limiting methane emissions from oil and gas will protect Pennsylvania’s climate, air quality and communities. It’s an opportunity to give Pennsylvanians what they want — leadership on efforts to cut methane pollution from oil and gas.

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