Governor Tom Gorbett has signed a petition calling on the EPA impose tighter air pollution standards on upwind states.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has added his name to the list of governors in the Northeast who want the federal government to require upwind states to reduce ozone emissions.
Eight democratic governors signed a petition Monday calling on the EPA to expand the Ozone Transport Region to nine states in the Midwest. The OTR is a group of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states – including Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey – that are held to some of the country’s strictest air pollution standards.
The governors who have signed the petition say despite working to reduce emissions, air quality in the the OTR continues to violate federal standards because of pollution that is blown from Midwestern states with less stringent requirements for coal-fired power plants and vehicle exhaust systems.
The petition was delivered the EPA in Washington, D.C. yesterday. At the time, Corbett’s Energy Executive Patrick Henderson said the administration was still considering whether or not to sign it.
In a press release, Corbett said Tuesday he is committed “to protecting air quality and the health of Pennsylvania residents.”
“Signing this petition reflects that commitment, and our hope is that the EPA will level the playing field by ensuring other states are being good neighbors by abiding to the same standards we have in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.
Republican Governor Chris Christie from New Jersey has not signed the petition.
A coalition of eight Northeast states wants the EPA to crack down on air pollution coming from the Midwest. Pennsylvania has not signed the petition yet.
Pennsylvania is part of a group of 12 states in the Northeast known as the Ozone Transport Commission that has been held to some of the country’s strictest air pollution standards for the last decade.
But governors from eight of those states say their efforts have been thwarted by air pollution blowing from neighboring states further west like Ohio and West Virginia and as far away as Illinois and Kentucky. Now they want the EPA to expand the Ozone Transport Commission and hold those states accountable to the same standards.
“Most Americans try to be good neighbors and live by the golden rule,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell. “Yet our states are receiving hundreds of thousands of tons of pollution from the states that are upwind of us.”
Delaware’s Secretary of Environment and Energy, Collin O’Mara said as much as 98 percent of the pollution in some of the states that signed the petition can come from out-of-state sources.
All eight of the governors who have signed it are Democrats. Republican governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett haven’t signed. Corbett’s Energy Executive Patrick Henderson said the administration is still considering it, although the eight governors turned in their petition to the EPA on Monday in Washington, D.C.
“We want to make sure that that right balance is struck here and that we don’t have Pennsylvanians paying to clean up someone else’s dirty air that may come into the commonwealth,” Henderson said.
Corbett's nominee to run the DEP says he is unaware climate change can cause harm.
Two of Governor Corbett’s Democratic challengers are sharply criticizing his administration over a series of recent comments on climate change.
Corbett’s leading challenger, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, is calling on the governor to withdraw his nomination for the state Department of Environmental Protection, Chris Abruzzo, after he told a Senate committee last week he hasn’t read any scientific studies that would lead him to believe climate change can cause harm.
“Governor Corbett’s decision to nominate an individual who denies the dangerous effects of climate change to head the DEP is unacceptable,” Schwartz said in statement.
The effort is common ground for groups that are typically on opposing sides in the debate over fracking like the Sierra Club and the American Public Gas Association. The groups say it’s a win-win: fixing old pipelines will keep methane out of the atmosphere, protect public health and employ more workers.
“To the extent we have a problem we can identify it certainly makes sense to fix it,” Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum wrote in an email. “I don’t think that calling for the fix of existing leaky pipelines is contrary to a call for ending shale gas development or fracking.”
In 2011, a crack in a cast-iron main that was installed in 1928 helped to fuel an explosion that killed five people and destroyed numerous homes in Allentown, Pa., while a 2011 explosion and fire in Philadelphia was traced to a cast-iron main installed in 1942.
There’s no exact figure on how much gas is leaking, but old cast-iron pipe is especially at risk. The AGA report estimated that about 500 to 700 miles of repairs are being done each year.
Patrick Henderson is Governor Corbett's Energy Executive.
Governor Corbett’s top adviser on energy issues calls climate change an “evolving science” saying, “reasonable, studious individuals may still be searching for a consensus.”
Patrick Henderson was appointed by Corbett to be Pennsylvania’s Energy Executive in 2011. The Philadelphia Inquirer has called him “one of the most powerful people in Harrisburg you don’t know about.”
In an October 2013 interview with StateImpact Pennsylvania, Henderson acknowledged man-made climate change exists but called it an “evolving science.”
“We’re getting more information. We’re getting more facts,” he said. “We need to be pragmatic and practical in what our solutions are.”
Henderson declined to comment for this story, but he frequently comments on the StateImpact Pennsylvania website.
He left a message under our story on Wednesday about Corbett’s nominee to head the Department of Environmental Protection, Chris Abruzzo, who said he was unaware climate change can cause harm and sees no need for Pennsylvania to adopt new policies to address it.
Here is Henderson’s comment:
U.S. carbon emissions at a 20-year low, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
A 29% increase in ice cover across the globe compared to a year ago.
An emerging consensus among climate change scientists that there has been a pause in global warming since 1997, with some predicting a global cooling trend.
2013 – the fewest number of hurricanes in…31 years. And 8 years since the last major hurricane made landfall in the United States…the longest stretch since before
the Civil War.
Don’t fear though…we have discredited climate changer Michael Mann on speed email to tell you that this is NOT a complex issue upon which reasonable, studious individuals may still be searching for a consensus.
Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive
We fact-checked his statements. Here is where the science stands:
The Associated Press reports Shell has scrapped plans to build a multibillion dollar gas-to-liquids plant in Lousiana, but is still actively exploring a multibillion dollar ethane cracker plant in Western Pa.
Royal Dutch Shell will not be going ahead with plans for a $12.5 billion gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana, the company announced today.
The plant would have used natural gas feedstocks to make more valuable diesel and gasoline, and is one of three major projects the company was exploring in North America. Shell has also proposed building an ethane cracker in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and a liquified natural gas plant in Canada.
Outgoing Shell CEO Richard Voser said recently that the company would have to make “hard choices” about where to invest capital.
The decision comes just two months after Shell selected a site for the plant. It would have created 740 jobs, according to a late-September announcement that championed the plant’s location in Ascension Parish, near Baton Rouge.
Shell, based in the Hague, Netherlands, said Thursday that the cost of the plant and the expected profit it could generate made the plant “not a viable option.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration had offered an incentive package that included $112 million for road improvements, land purchasing and other infrastructure in Ascension Parish.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has said he expects to know the fate of the Beaver County ethane cracker project sometime next year. Meanwhile, Corbett is doing what he can to convince Shell to seal the deal by pushing for large tax breaks and touting the thousands of jobs it could bring to western Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press recently reported Shell has an option to buy the proposed site in Monaca which is now owned by Horsehead Corporation and has chosen two engineering firms to conduct feasibility studies and pre-project planning.
A worker monitors pressurized testing at a fracking site in Susquehanna County.
America’s recent oil and gas boom, including the massive Marcellus production here in Pennsylvania, has dramatically shifted the nation’s trade deficit. But this has not translated into a large number of energy industry jobs.
If you heat your home with natural gas, you might be getting some pretty low bills this month. The Associated Press reports natural gas prices for six of the 10 biggest utilities in Pennsylvania are at their lowest in a decade.
Utilities credit the huge volume of gas being produced from the Marcellus Shale formation underneath Pennsylvania for pushing down prices. In most cases, prices this December are less than half what they were in December 2008, when the drilling boom was just beginning.
Peco’s three-month winter price, which took effect Sunday, means a customer will see an average monthly bill of just under $160, or almost $3 less per month than last winter, spokesman Ben Armstrong said.
The utility is reaching out to people who live along gas mains to encourage them to switch. Incentives include helping foot the cost to extend a line to a home and appliance rebates, Armstrong said.
According to the state Public Utility Commission, about half of all Pennsylvania households use natural gas for heating, with more customers switching from electricity and oil.
But don’t expect the low prices to last all winter long. The federal Energy Information Administration is predicting that as the price of natural gas goes up, it’ll cost about $80 more per household this year, compared to last year.
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