With more than two-thirds of Pennsylvanians supporting climate action, it’s gratifying to see Gov. Tom Wolf join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a collaborative of 24 states representing nearly half of the U.S. population that is committed to the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. This announcement came in concert with the release of Pennsylvania’s Climate Action Plan.
While the climate goals to which the governor is committing our state are essential, the greater urgency is that these targets be met with specific actions that yield meaningful results in the fight against climate change.
Our home in Robinson Township, Washington County, is surrounded by natural gas development, and the attendant emissions of methane from well sites and compressor stations such as these across Pennsylvania is contributing to the unsustainable warming of our planet.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 84 times more so than carbon over a 20-year time frame. A 2018 report estimated that the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania emitted 520,000 tons of methane pollution into our air. And yet, Pennsylvania’s draft rules for air emissions from this industry are not directly regulating methane emissions, instead tapped to simply capture the volatile organic compounds that leak alongside methane. Such an approach would leave nearly 80 percent of methane emissions – an untenable amount – in our air. These draft rules also exclude low-producing – but high-emitting – wells that cannot remain unchecked.
The governor’s call to action must be followed by just that: Action on climate that will truly protect our children and future generations.