FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Greg Vitali
Experts say Marcellus air pollution a threat
HARRISBURG, Oct. 12 – Experts testified about air pollution and its consequences from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling during a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing hosted by state Rep. Greg Vitali today at Delaware County Community College in Media.
"Air quality is a growing concern as Marcellus drilling expands across the state," said Vitali, D-Delaware. "The purpose of this hearing was to examine the extent of air pollution associated with drilling and what steps need to be taken to address that."
Jay Duffy of the Clean Air Council noted that Marcellus Shale drilling operations rely on a great deal of equipment that is already known to discharge pollutants into the air.
In fact, internal combustion gas transmission engines are the second-largest contributor to nitrogen oxide emissions in Pennsylvania, according to former Department of Environmental Protection regional director George Jugovic, who also testified today.
“Over 13,000 tons per year of nitrogen oxide associated with the Marcellus industry have been permitted by the Southwest Regional Office alone,” Jugovic said. “The department should be ensuring that every new internal combustion compressor engine installed in Pennsylvania incorporates current best available control technology to protect public health and the environment.”
“When any one of these pollution sources is considered in isolation, its emissions may seem relatively small," said Joe Osborne with the Group Against Smog and Pollution. "When emissions from these sources are combined, the impact can be enormous. We are now watching the development of an industry here in Pennsylvania that managed to turn pristine Wyoming air into air that’s worse than Los Angeles’ – only here, we’re adding this air pollution burden on top of an existing ozone problem.”
Former DEP Secretary John Hanger agreed. “Though natural gas can help to clean our air, emissions from gas production, transmission and distribution could cause or contribute substantially to air quality violations, unless gas emissions are controlled and reduced.”
American Lung Association of Pennsylvania Director of Environmental Health Kevin Stewart said that action should be taken, but it was important to make sure the necessary resources were available.
“We stress that DEP be provided with adequate resources of personnel and funding in order to achieve environmental and health protections now and into the future,” he said.
"Today's hearing demonstrated that unless positive steps are taken now with the Marcellus Shale drilling industry, air pollution will become an increasing problem and have real consequences on our Commonwealth's public health," Vitali said.