COLUMBUS, Ohio (September 22, 2016) – Ohio leaders today release a first-of-its-kind report that estimates that thousands of jobs will be created by reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized standards to limit methane from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry earlier this year.
The BlueGreen Alliance report, entitled Plugging the Leaks: Protecting Workers, Reducing Pollution, and Creating Quality Jobs by Reducing Methane Waste in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry, estimates that nearly 5,400 direct and indirect jobs will be created every year in a variety of sectors—including manufacturing—and that with full and continuing adoption of leak reducing technologies and practices, 50,000 jobs could be created over the first decade of full implementation of these methane standards. The report found that many of the jobs that could be created would be quality jobs. The median hourly wage for workers in the methane mitigation industry is $30.88, compared to $19.60 for all U.S. jobs.
“Methane is driving climate change and stopping these preventable leaks in the oil and gas industry is a common sense effort,” said Ed Good, Legislative Director for the Utility Workers Union of America. “This is yet another example of how doing the right thing by workers and the environment can be an economic driver for our state. And, they’ll be family-sustaining jobs.”
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide and the second largest contributor to climate change.
“There’s a critical need for these standards in the oil and gas industry,” said Tracy Sabetta from the National Wildlife Federation. “The oil and gas industry is the largest source of methane emissions in the U.S and utilizing cost-effective, common-sense measures to reduce this pollution will help the U.S. meet our international climate commitments. The good news is that standards finalized by the EPA earlier this year for new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector will reduce this waste while creating quality jobs, protecting workers and wildlife, and helping address climate change.”
Reducing these emissions has the added benefit of protecting workers and nearby communities. When methane leaks, workers in the industry are also exposed to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and toxic air pollutants like benzene, which is a known carcinogen.
“We need to ensure that we’re protecting workers and communities from benzene and other dangerous chemicals and compounds,” said Dr. Peggy Berry, Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist. “These standards for new and modified sources are vital to helping reduce that exposure. Safeguarding workers and the communities around these facilities ought to be job one.”
In 2014, Ohio’s natural gas producers reported wasting more than 13,000 metric tons of methane. This is enough natural gas to heat nearly 8,500 Ohio homes and this number is likely an underestimate because only large oil and gas operations are required to report their emissions, but methane leaks can occur from wells and equipment of all sizes.
Listen to the audio from the call.