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Wolf Administration Continues Implementation of Methane Reduction Strategy by Releasing New Natural Gas Permits to Reduce Air Pollution

June 07, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell today announced the issuance of new general permits for unconventional natural gas wells and compression, processing, and transmission facilities that will reduce air pollution and establish a control threshold on methane emissions.

“These permits represent the first step of my Methane Reduction Strategy and my administration’s continuing commitment to cleaner, healthier air across the commonwealth,” said Governor Wolf. “Cleaner air means healthier communities – for our citizens, and especially for our children. These new permits are one example of a way that we can have positive economic development without compromising public health. These permits are a win-win, helping industry control methane emissions that cost them money, while also helping defend our children and keep our communities healthier through cleaner air.  We’ve arrived at these permits through a comprehensive process that included feedback and input from both industry and the environmental community, and I am proud of the finished product that we are unveiling today.”

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities.

“Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the nation behind Texas,” said Governor Wolf. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, while protecting public health and our environment.

“These permits incorporate the most current state and federal regulations for controlling air pollution,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The permits for new unconventional natural gas wells and new compression, processing and transmission stations along pipelines are some of the first in the nation to comprehensively address methane emissions from all equipment and processes, and they also address other types of air pollution that contribute to poor air quality.”

The newly revised general permits, GP-5 and GP-5A, will be required for new compression, processing and transmission stations along pipelines, and new natural gas wells, respectively.

In addition to the methane controls, the permits also set thresholds on other types of air pollution, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Operators will be required to meet federal new source standards and state Best Available Technology (BAT) included in the permit conditions for equipment and processes to control pollution emissions.

“Reducing air pollution from gas wells and compression, processing and transmission facilities is key to responsibly developing Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources,” said McDonnell. “Everything we can do to reduce air pollution will improve public health.”

DEP held multiple comment periods on the permits, which attracted more than 9,000 comments in total. The permits will go into effect on August 8, 2018.

More information about the new permits can be found at http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Air/Pages/Methane-Reduction-Strategy.aspx

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