FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Greg Vitali
DEP must address Marcellus air pollution threat
HARRISBURG, Nov. 1 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, environmentalists, health advocates and other legislators today called on the state Department of Environmental Protection to do more to address the growing threat of air pollution from the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry.
"The air pollution problems from gas drilling are only going to grow worse as the industry grows," said Vitali, D-Delaware. "Currently there are about 4,000 Marcellus Shale drill pads, and that number is expected to increase to 30,000 by 2030."
Air pollutants from drilling include nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter and methane.
Kevin Stewart from the American Lung Association said those emissions pose health threats.
"Nitrogen oxide emissions can increase downwind levels of ozone and fine particle pollution," Stewart said. "Ozone worsens asthma, reduces lung function, increases respiratory hospital visits, increases the need for hospitalization and emergency treatment and can even kill. Fine particle pollution causes increases in asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death."
The air pollution comes from internal combustion gas transmission and production engines used by the industry.
“Internal combustion gas transmission and production engines are the second-largest contributor to nitrogen oxide emission in Pennsylvania, behind only coal-fired power plants," said George Jugovic from PennFuture. "Marcellus Shale Industry will make it extremely difficult if not impossible for Pennsylvanians to attain healthy air if the Commonwealth does not use the regulation at its disposal to reduce emission as the industry develops.
Vitali said DEP should take the following steps to reduce air pollution:
“If DEP does not know how much pollution is coming from gas drilling, it cannot make rational decisions about how to control that air pollution and adequately protect the public health," said Jan Jarrett, president of PennFuture. "Unless DEP begins requiring gas drillers to provide accurate information about their emissions from its gas development activities and requires the use of best available technology to control that pollution, Pennsylvania’s air quality will deteriorate.”
Jay Duffy from the Clean Air Council said drilling has caused air quality problems elsewhere.
“In 2009, for the first time in its state's history, Wyoming failed to meet federal health-based standards for air pollution primarily due to the emissions from the state's oil and gas sector,” Duffy said.
"Deep shale drilling offers a giant boost to Pennsylvania's economy, if done properly," added Jamin Bogi, education and outreach coordinator for the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Group Against Smog and Pollution. "It also promises massive air pollution if done poorly. We urge the state to look at the cumulative, region-wide emissions from this industry."