Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sierra Club PA Chapter Testifies at EPA Methane Hearing in Pittsburgh

The following is testimony provided to the EPA by Sierra Club PA Chapter Director, Joanne Kilgour, on September 29, 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA: 

Good afternoon, and thank you for the opportunity to speak here to day on this important topic - controlling methane emissions from oil and gas sources. My name is Joanne Kilgour and I serve as the Director of the Sierra Club PA Chapter, representing 25,000 members and 80,000 supporters across the Commonwealth of PA. Our members have - for decades - been leading climate advocates and clean air champions in their communities, and I know that each of them would be here testifying today if they could. 

By holding this hearing in Pittsburgh, you are recognizing the significant impact air pollution from methane emissions has on this region - and regions across Pennsylvania - largely as a result of the dirty oil and gas industry. While we support and appreciate EPA taking this necessary first step to control methane emissions from oil and gas sources, we also recognize the need for action that will address pollution from existing sources.

I live in Lancaster, PA - one of the areas with the worst air quality in the nation. In fact, more than half of the counties in Pennsylvania are at risk because of air quality concerns, which are exacerbated by harmful methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Just like me, more than four million residents of Pennsylvania live in areas that exceed national ozone standards, meaning that our health and our communities cannot afford to bear pollution from the thousands of existing sources in our state - let alone from new and modified sources. Our children, our elderly, and individuals as greater risk from respiratory complications cannot take another ozone action day.

Since this is the first-ever proposal to control methane pollution from the oil and gas industry we thank you, we support this initial step, and we call for these proposals to be adopted quickly so we can get to work on tackling the threat from methane emissions from oil and gas sources now in existence - sources that by 2018 are projected to account for nearly 90% of all methane emissions in this sector. 

In addition to threatening our climate, the public health threat posed by these emissions is staggering. For this reason, we call on EPA to revise its cost-benefit analysis and include in this revision metrics that monetize the public health benefit the methane standard will generate by reducing VOCs - and this smog and soot - as well as hazardous air pollutants. Without this adjustment, the benefits of implementing the rule will remain understated and the cost-benefit analysis will remain an inadequate assessment. Public health benefits are not simply qualitative or experiential, but have quantifiable financial benefits that must be documented.

I applaud the EPA and the Obama Administration for beginning to address this problem of new and modified sources of methane, and I now look to our state Department of Environmental Protection and the Wolf Administration to follow this lead and address fugitive emissions from existing sources, moving as fast and far as necessary to put the health and prosperity of Pennsylvania families first.

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