Pennsylvania Action Alert

TAKE ACTION

Write Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf and urge him to protect the unborn and children from both VOCs and methane pollution. Send your message in care of both his Deputy Chief of Staff, Sam Robinson (sdrobinson@pa.gov) and the Secretary of Environmental Protection, Patrick McDonnell (pmcdonnell@pa.gov).

SAMPLE MESSAGE

Thank you for your leadership and your service as our Governor.

As a pro-life Christian I write to ask you to defend the health of our children and God’s creation by improving the Department of Environmental Protection’s draft rule, released December 2018, reducing pollution from existing natural gas wells. The rule targets volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

While reducing VOCs will also reduce methane pollution, I ask that you:

  1. explicitly regulate methane itself, given you have the legal authority to do so;
  2. eliminate the exemption for low-producing conventional wells, since half of methane emissions come from conventional wells, and approximately 80% of such wells are low-producing, and;
  3. ensure that all sources covered in the new sources rule finalized last year are included in this rule regulating existing sources.

The reason I write is because pro-life Christians, like myself, have a special concern for the unborn. We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by pollution. Smog, which methane helps create, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, also adds to climate disruption. We want our loved ones, the unborn, and those yet to be born, to inherit a world free of climate change. The next 10-20 years will determine whether our struggle to overcome climate change will be won or lost, and to win we must drastically reduce our methane pollution.

Your draft rule reducing VOCs from some existing wells is a good effort. But it must be strengthened in the three ways outlined above to more fully defend our children’s health and help us overcome climate change.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Learn More

The medical community has long known of the environmental impacts on our unborn children. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb. A recent study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found evidence of low birthweight babies associated with proximity to unconventional natural gas wells in Butler County, PA, and another study in 2015 linked birth defects to methane production. Given that PA is the nation’s second-largest gas producing state, and pollution from the natural gas industry is on the rise, strong regulations are essential.

These leaks in our natural gas infrastructure also spew out smog precursors, adding to our failing air quality.  Pennsylvania has over 300,000 children with asthma according to the American Lung Association, and much of Pennsylvania’s air exceeds limits for both ozone (smog) and particulates (soot) emissions, making the need to stop natural gas leaks urgent.  There is simply no way for Pennsylvania’s air quality to improve with the vast amounts of methane spewed by thousands of natural gas installations across the commonwealth, both old and new, conventional and fracking. Half of methane emissions come from conventional wells. The draft rule’s exemption of around 80% of such wells because they are low-producing will leave a big source of emissions unaddressed.

Methane is also a highly potent greenhouse gas. We want our loved ones, the unborn, and those yet to be born, to inherit a world free of climate change.  Yet today from our natural gas infrastructure large amounts of methane are being released, a climate pollutant 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a 20 year timeframe – and it is the next 10-20 years that will determine whether our struggle to overcome climate change will be won or lost. Indeed, a recent major scientific report concluded we have a little more than a decade to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45% to avoid highly disruptive impacts. That is why reducing methane is morally strategic.

Gov. Wolf recently signed an executive order setting a goal to reduce PA’s greenhouse gases 80% by 2050 (compared to 2005 levels). While this goal is highly commendable, it now must be followed by strong, concrete actions. Improving the draft VOC rule for existing sources in the following three ways will make our air cleaner and strengthen our efforts to overcome climate change:

  1. explicitly regulate methane itself, given you have the legal authority to do so;
  2. eliminate the exemption for low-producing conventional wells, since half of methane emissions come from conventional wells, and approximately 80% of such wells are low-producing, and;
  3. ensure that all sources covered in the new sources rule finalized last year are included in this rule regulating existing sources.

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