Ohio Leaders Tout Benefits of New Standards to Reduce Methane in State’s Oil and Gas Industry

Methane Standards for New Sources will reduce pollution, protect workers and communities, and grow and sustain jobs.

May 13, 2016

Methane Standards for New Sources Will Reduce Pollution, Protect Workers and Communities, and Grow and Sustain Jobs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (May 12, 2016) – Civic, environmental, labor and business leaders from around Ohio today lauded new standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will curb methane emission in the state’s oil and gas sector. The standards will apply to new and modified equipment in the oil and gas industry and will help reduce methane pollution driving climate change, ensure the health and safety of workers and communities, and grow and sustain quality jobs in the state.

“We are excited that the Obama administration has finalized these standards,” said Melanie Houston, Director of Oil and Gas Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council. “These common sense standards are a step in the right direction towards reducing one of the most potent contributors to climate change.”

“I support these standards for new and modified sources that were finalized today,” said Don Bryant, Mansfield City Council Member. “They will both be good for the short term—protecting workers, reducing pollution in our air, and safeguarding the health of our families—and in the long term for our economy and our climate.”

Methane from the oil and gas industry comes packaged with other pollutants, called Volatile Organic Compounds—or VOCs—which are a key ingredient in ground-level ozone, also called smog. In addition, these leaks release a number of pollutants known as “air toxics”—such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene that are dangerous to human beings.

“As a healthcare professional, I know that the best way to treat any disease is to prevent it in the first place,” said Dr. Peggy Berry, Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist. “These standards will help ensure workers and communities are not impacted by ozone and VOCs in the first place by reducing the leaks that emit them.”

During natural gas gathering, transmission, production, and processing activities the nation’s energy sector wastes the amount of gas it takes to heat nearly 8 million homes. Ohio’s energy sector wastes an estimated 13,000 metric tons of natural gas from leaks that could be cost-effectively reduced with technologies (many manufactured in the state) and improved industry practices. Studies show that the energy sector could cut their emissions and leaks by up to half in five years at a cost of less than 1 cent per thousand cubic feet of natural gas (mcf)—a fraction of a percent of market prices.

“Doing this voluntarily won’t cut it, because most of the industry has failed to adopt these safeguards,” said Joe Holcomb, United Steelworkers District 1 Staff Representative. “We need to make sure the industry implements these low-cost solutions that already exist. That way we can plug the industrial gas leaks and power more homes and businesses.”

Methane is the primary component of natural gas and it is a significant contributor to climate change. In fact, it is much more impactful on a pound-for-pound basis than carbon dioxide.

“Climate change poses an increasingly dire threat to wildlife, communities, and public health,” said Liz Parker, a fly fisher. “Changes to our climate are projected to destroy essential wildlife habitat, cause habitat and species ranges to shift, increase incidence of pests and invasive species, change the chemistry of the ocean, and increase the rate of species’ extinction. We need to take action now to avoid the worst of these impacts.”

The groups said that reducing methane will also create and sustain quality jobs in the state. Ohio has 12 companies operating 16 facilities across the state, ranking 9th among states in the methane mitigation industry, producing leak reduction technologies that can make these energy activities safer and more efficient.

“Ohio parents are delighted to see our elected leaders and the EPA working together with labor, citizen, public health and environmental groups to support these commonsense standards that ultimately protect our health and wellbeing,” said Laura Burns, a mother of two and former biologist.

“Ohio’s economy has benefited from the surge in domestic energy production in recent years, both through low oil and natural gas prices as well as in manufacturing the equipment helping to ramp up domestic energy production,” said Mayda Sanchez, Executive Director of the Ohio Sustainable Business Council. “We can also benefit from the effort to reduce methane emissions in the industry. The bottom line is that cost-effective solutions to reduce methane can be built here in Ohio.”

“The finalization of this EPA standard on methane for new and modified sources is a positive step forward toward curbing emissions,” said Cheryl Johncox, Methane Organizer with the Sierra Club. “The next logical step is to move quickly with standards for existing sources, which make up the bulk of the methane pollution in the oil and gas industry. This will bring immediate improvement to air quality affecting communities living near oil and gas infrastructure.

Listen to the audio from the call below.