EPA Methane Regulation Update

Pole marker with warning sign for natural gas pipeline buried underground
Shutterstock.com | Shutterstock.com
Methane gas pipeline leaks contribute to climate change and pose risk to communities when they ignite or explode.

Methane, the main component of “natural” gas, is an incredibly harmful air and climate pollutant with 86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Yet each year, oil and gas companies operating in Pennsylvania accidentally and intentionally release over 1.1 million tons of methane into the atmosphere – equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of more than 5 million cars. So when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to implement stronger methane safeguards for reducing harmful methane pollution from fracking and oil and gas drilling, PennEnvironment wanted to show them that Pennsylvanians fully support tackling this pollution to protect our health and climate.

Some of the highlights of PennEnvironment’s work to civically engage the state’s residents and opinion leaders over the 60 day public comment period include:

  • PennEnvironment’s staff and volunteers collected 2,300 comments from our network of activists, concerned citizens and members to EPA in support of strong federal protections from methane pollution. 
  • PennEnvironment enlisted more than 40 local and state elected officials, and 30 health and academic officials to add their names in support of strong methane protections during the public comment period. 
  • PennEnvironment staff and volunteers submitted over 50 letters to the editor to newspapers across the state to inform local residents about EPA’s methane public comment period, and were published in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, PennLive, Penn Capital-Star, Altoona Mirror, and more.  
Volunteer Dr. Barbara Brandom, MD testifying during the EPA’s Methane Public Hearings on Jan 11th Ellie Kerns | TPIN
Dr. Ned Ketyer discusses health impacts of methane during our Let’s Talk Methane webinar on Jan 17th Ellie Kerns | TPIN
  • Of the 77 Pennsylvanians who testified during EPA’s virtual public hearing on the proposed methane protections, more than half were recruited and prepped by Pennenvironment. In total, almost 300 people testified in support of strong methane protections, our staff turned out 37 testifiers, making Pennsylvania the most represented state by far. 
  • 120 Pennsylvanians joined our educational webinar to learn about the dangers of methane and how to make their voices heard. We featured great speakers such as Dr. Ned Ketyer of PA Physicians for Social Responsibility, and advocates from Clean Air Council, Moms Clean Air Force, Environmental Health Project, Evangelical Environmental Network, and Environmental Defense Fund, to educate Pennsylvanians about methane.

With all of the great work from Pennsylvanians and citizens around the country, the EPA has the chance to finalize the strongest possible protections on methane. We’re confident that our organizing during the public comment period will help remind decision makers that any efforts to stall climate action aren’t palatable to the public.

Although the Methane Comment Period is now closed, there is still more to be done. Recently, the EPA put forth a revised soot standard, and while any reduction in air pollution is good, a stronger soot standard of 8 µg/m3 would save four times as many lives. You can get involved by adding your name to our soot comment at bit.ly/paeSoot in support of the strongest possible soot standards!


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