PennFuture: American Lung Association "State of the Air" report speaks to ongoing clean air battle in Pennsylvania

Long list of emissions that must be addressed includes methane

Apr 30, 2014, 09:15 ET from PennFuture

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association (ALA) released today its annual "State of the Air" report and while the U.S. continues to see improvements in air quality thanks to the Clean Air Act, warming temperatures are the likely reason we are still not breathing easy. Forty-seven percent of U.S. residents live where the air is often too unhealthy to breathe, an increase from the previous year, and Pittsburgh and Allegheny County still find themselves in a Top Ten Bad Air List which they'd prefer not to inhabit.

"While we take note of air quality improvements in the ALA report, we're mindful that the state of our air will likely deteriorate in the face of a changing climate," said Cindy Dunn, president and CEO of PennFuture. "To that end, we remain concerned about the issue of methane leakage associated with natural gas drilling and the fact that the climate impacts of this heat-trapping gas could have devastating environmental impacts. Fugitive methane emissions from well pad to distribution and delivery have the potential to undo any environmental benefits we may accrue from using natural gas in place of other fossil fuels."

Despite improvements in how the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) oversees natural gas well sites, the state still lacks strict methane emission limits from its natural gas production facilities. While Colorado has in place a comprehensive regulatory framework to address methane emissions and Ohio recently revised its general permit for unconventional oil and gas wells to include quarterly leak detection and repair requirements (LDAR), Pennsylvania is lagging in placing mandatory controls on natural gas drilling.

"The DEP has to be the cop on the beat when it comes to drilling activity in Pennsylvania," continued Dunn. "Rather than allowing wells to be exempted, we should require a mandatory and rigorous permitting process. Instead of being in Ohio's rear view mirror, we should be leading the charge by going one step further and directly regulating methane emissions in the name of cleaner air and public health."

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. The organization's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

Contact: Elaine Labalme

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SOURCE PennFuture