Pennsylvania Record

Sunday, September 22, 2019

New methane regulations could mean big changes for natural gas industry

By Carrie Bradon | Mar 7, 2016


HARRISBURG - The president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition says his industry has already made significant strikes in reducing emissions, and that regulations need to provide a true environmental benefit.

In January, Gov. Tom Wolf announced new rules regarding methane emissions designed to improve air quality. His plan targets methane leaks and emissions from natural gas wells.

has stated that the plan will address the issue of climate change by aiming to decrease the amount of methane emissions. Much of the emissions come from natural gas wells and other sectors related to the oil and gas industries of Pennsylvania.

A recent discussion of the plan revealed that 115,000 tons of methane had been wasted in 2014 in Pennsylvania alone. The governor hopes that the new measures will provide a high return on investment, and that the practices will reduce methane emissions by 40 percent.

"The efforts being made by the industry have been extraordinary and the fact that our industry as a result of natural gas use and power generation we've seen a 27 year low in carbon dioxide emissions, primarily because of gas being used in power generation," said Dave Spigelmeyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

There are four parts to the governor's plan, which will be carried out by the Department of Environmental Protection throughout 2016. The implementation will begin with improved technology and record-keeping, as well as regular monitoring inspections.

Next, the DEP will add leak detection and repair programs. Third, the DEP will enact stricter requirements for those companies that are already a part of the industry. Finally, the DEP will attempt to reduce methane emissions in the production, gathering, procession and transmission plants.

"There is a lot of public push and a lot of national push, but I would tell you that I think that we have made major strides here already, on the methane side, and we'll make sure if we move regulations forth, it's not regulating just to regulate," Spigelmyer said.

"We've got to make sure that there's a true environmental benefit. I believe that our industry has already made significant strides."

Spigelmyer says that though there are added costs that come with the changes, these costs will also translate to more jobs. Though some changes and additions to regulations may result in only the negative of added costs, Spigelmyer believes that the proposed changes will result in environmental benefits, as well as benefits to the workforce.

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