PITTSBURGH (September 30, 2015) – Members of the BlueGreen Alliance today testified during the EPA’s Pittsburgh hearing, and afterwards held a labor roundtable on proposed standards to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector. Labor and environmental leaders testified in favor of the proposed standards, citing the need to keep workers safe, the opportunity to create quality jobs, and the impact methane has on our environment and climate.
“As workers, we have a uniquely informed perspective on the industry,” said Bernie LaBelle, National Representative for the Utility Workers Union of America in his testimony to the EPA. “Reducing methane both upstream and downstream can produce a double benefit—many times there is a nexus between environmental protection and public and worker safety.”
“We support EPA’s efforts to reduce methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) across the spectrum of natural gas infrastructure. We support aggressive leak detection, surveying, and monitoring with appropriate mitigation in a timely fashion,” continued LaBelle.
“As a nurse I support the proposals of the methane rules to help protect our families, communities and health and our common home. Too many individuals have already been harmed so we must take action now to protect future public health impacts from methane,” said Michelle Boyle, a Registered Nurse and member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare PA.
While the nation’s energy sector has made significant strides to increase the efficiency of our natural gas systems in recent years, leaking methane continues to harm the economy and the environment. Proven, low-cost technologies are already commercially available to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 50 percent in the next five years. The BlueGreen Alliance said that without enforceable standards, energy companies have little incentive to improve operations and reduce methane emissions by keeping gas in the system, despite the availability and cost-effectiveness of mitigation technology.
The proposed standards are a leap ahead in attaining the Obama administration’s stated 10-year, up to 45 percent methane reduction goal, and the BlueGreen Alliance said they hope the EPA embraces other critical approaches to reduce unnecessary natural gas leaks, such as at existing methane-emitting facilities, and especially in the distribution pipelines underneath cities carrying natural gas to individual homes and businesses.
“Strong national methane standards are a win for our economy and environment,” said the BlueGreen Alliance’s Pennsylvania Regional Program Manager Khari Mosley during his testimony. “The BlueGreen Alliance thanks the EPA and the administration for their efforts to curb methane emissions. Doing so is both vital to addressing climate change and creating good jobs for American workers.”
The BlueGreen Alliance’s full testimony is available online here.