change is in the air
Pennsylvania is in the midst of an energy transformation, one that will continue to evolve in response to technology, economics, and deployment.
Our state has long served as an energy hub for the nation, generating tremendous economic growth as well as an equally sizable legacy of environmental cost. While some costs are easy to identify – streams stained with abandoned mine drainage or plumes of darkened clouds emitted from a stack – there are less apparent costs to account for – greenhouse gas emissions.
CHANGE IS win-win
These emissions are fundamentally altering our climate; the full extent of impacts to our health, economy, and environment will continue to accumulate in the years and decades to come. The full risk of these impacts, recognized even by military planners, calls for not only a full-scale reassessment of policy and business decision making with respect to energy, it also requires us to address immediate unfulfilled opportunities that are cost-effective.
At the top of that list of opportunities is reducing methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.
CHANGE IS CHALLENGING
In the last ten years Pennsylvania has become the second largest producer of natural gas in the country. Fuel switching from coal to cheaper natural gas for power generation and heating has resulted in significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
That’s good news, and one of the main reasons why our state was already well on its way to meeting the short-term objectives of the Clean Power Plan, itself now under its own cloud of political posturing. The bad news is that emissions of methane – a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide – have been increasing in Pennsylvania in conjunction oil and gas production.
change is opportunity
But there is a silver lining: reducing methane emissions is cost-effective, technologically feasible, creates jobs, saves consumers money, and is already being done by industry in other states.
It’s both the “low hanging fruit” and “win-win” scenario often discussed when discussing environmental and energy policy. For natural gas to reach its true energy potential for Pennsylvania, methane emissions must be addressed.