Wolf administration to tighten methane rules for drillers

The Wolf administration says its proposal to require natural-gas drillers to reduce methane emissions will help make Pennsylvania a “national leader” in efforts to combat global warming.

Environmental Secretary John Quigley said Wednesday that requiring the industry to reduce methane leaks at well pads, compressor stations and processing facilities in the Marcellus Shale could result in a 40 percent reduction in emissions.

The Department of Environmental Protection is developing a new general permit for operators that would require them to use “best available technology” to detect and plug leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to warming.

An emissions inventory shows that Pennsylvania’s gas industry leaked 115,000 tons of methane in 2014, a number that Quigley says is almost certainly far higher because fugitive emissions are so difficult to quantify.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, says companies have already taken steps to sharply reduce methane emissions.

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