Vitali, Sturla hold public hearing on oil and gas industry methane leakage

HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP, Jan. 24 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today hosted a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee to discuss the impact of methane leakage from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry on climate change.

The hearing explored ways in which methane affects climate change and how Pennsylvania can better monitor methane leakage from the oil and gas industry.

“Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, and a significant amount of that methane comes from oil and gas development,” Vitali said.

Speakers included Dr. Richard Alley, Professor of Geosciences, Penn State University; Professor Don Brown, Scholar in Residence, Widener Law;  Dr. Tony Ingraffea, Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University; Professor Peter DeCarlo, Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Drexel University; Rob Altenburg, Director, PennFuture Energy Center; Andrew Williams, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, U.S. Climate and Energy, Environmental Defense Fund; Dr. Arvind Ravikumar, Assistant Professor of Energy Engineering, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology; Leann Leiter, Pennsylvania and Ohio Field Advocate, EarthWorks; and Krish Ramamurthy, Director of Bureau of Air Quality, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Vitali also was joined by fellow state legislators, including House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla.

“The world must reduce greenhouse gases by 45 percent by 2030,” Widener’s Don Brown said.

“We just can’t drill our way out of the climate issue,” PennFuture’s Rob Altenburg said about relying on natural gas to address climate change.

“The bottom line is that without adequate monitoring and measurement, we do not have accurate numbers on methane leakage in this state,” said Drexel’s Peter DeCarlo. “This hampers our ability to accurately assess the gains or losses with respect to climate.”

“Methane reduction is the fastest way to address climate change at the state level,” said Andrew Williams of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Krish Ramamurthy outlined the DEP’s plan to regulate existing sources of methane indirectly by regulating volatile organic compounds.

“This is no time for halfway measures – we must regulate methane directly,” Vitali said.

The need to regulate methane directly also was voiced by Williams, EarthWorks’ Leann Leiter and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology’s Dr. Arvind Ravikumar.

“Getting to near zero emissions is now possible,” Ravikumar said.

“Mitigating methane emissions will also help protect the health of Pennsylvanians because methane is a precursor for ground-level ozone, which leads to asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments,” Leiter said.

Methane regulations are scheduled to be considered at an upcoming Environmental Quality Board meeting in April.

Speakers offered testimony, which can be found here once it has been uploaded.