Pennsylvania

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Lawmaker calls DEP methane strategy a ‘blatant disregard’ of the law

Rep. Daryle Metcalfe (R- Butler) is accusing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection of trying to sidestep a 1982 law.

Photo: Pa. Legislature

Rep. Daryle Metcalfe (R- Butler) is accusing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection of trying to skirt a 1982 law.

A Republican state lawmaker is accusing Pennsylvania environmental regulators of overstepping their authority, as they attempt to limit climate-damaging methane leaks from shale gas sites.

In a February 10 letter, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R- Butler) accuses Acting Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell of trying to sidestep a 35-year-old law, known as the Regulatory Review Act. The law allows legislators to have more oversight in the rulemaking process, but DEP is instead seeking to control methane leaks at well sites and compressor stations through permit changes.

“This administration is acting like it’s above the law,” says Metcalfe. “They’re totally regulating. It shouldn’t be coming through a permit. They are operating in a pretty shady area.”

Methane is the main component of natural gas. Compared to carbon dioxide, it is a much more potent greenhouse gas, although it stays in the planet’s atmosphere for a shorter time period.

Metcalfe says at the moment he’s objecting to the DEP’s process, rather than the substance of the proposed changes. However, he calls them burdensome, costly, and job-killing.

In his letter to McDonnell, Metcalfe writes, “I would invite you to share with me and my colleagues at your earliest convenience your plan to rectify this blatant disregard for the law.”

He says he won’t rule out a lawsuit but hopes it doesn’t get to that point.

DEP spokesman, Neil Shader, says the department is complying with the law.

“DEP is at the beginning of this process, not the end, and will continue to work with stakeholders, citizens, industry, and the legislature on these permits,” Shader writes in an email. “The current drafts of these general permits will enable a streamlined permit process for new sources, and the drafts are now out for public comment.”

DEP recently made the proposed permit changes available for a 45 day public comment period, which closes on March 21. The natural gas industry is lobbying against the move. David Spigelmyer, president of the gas trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, criticized it as bureaucratic red-tape. His group also recently sued the DEP over its new drilling regulations.

“Again, the Wolf administration has over-stepped its authority by attempting to jam through new, unnecessary, and costly requirements,” Spigelmyer said in a statement. “We appreciate all who recognize the dangers of backdoor regulatory action.”

Comments

  • Wayne

    It is becoming far too difficult to remain civil in discourse, when Republican Representative Metcalfe states: “…he’s objecting to the DEP’s process, rather than the substance of the proposed changes. However, he calls them burdensome, costly, and job-killing.” What in God’s name is unlawful or incorrect, burdensome, costly and job-killing about the DEP’s proposal to “…control methane leaks at well sites and compressor stations through permit changes.”? If the clown named Metcalfe is not against the “substance” of the changes, then why the hell hasn’t the long controlled Republican legislature, of which he is a member, done anything about fugitive methane from well sites and compressor stations over these past 10 years that they’ve been in power? Where is his less “burdensome, costly and job-killing” proposal, or one from any of his majority legislature? The Republican legislature is owned by the shale gas industry. Pennsylvania legislators like Metcalfe are so F.O.S. it is coming out of their ears, and they fit right in with Trump’s “alternate facts” as expressed by our curiously deranged Kellyanne Conway, and (very sad) Sean Spicer. What are sane, informed people to do when confronted with the likes of these Berlusconi-esque buffoons?

    • http://marcellusdrilling.com Jim Willis

      “why the hell hasn’t the long controlled Republican legislature, of which he is a member, done anything about fugitive methane from well sites and compressor stations” – Answer: Because it’s not actually a problem.

      • Steve Case

        BINGO!
        The current meme that methane is 86 times more powerful than CO2 is statistical slight of hand. Well really, does anyone really believe the 86 times nonsense?

        • Wayne

          Mr. Case, only scientists believe it as fact. Idiots do not. Congratulations.

          • Steve Case

            “Ch4 is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2″

            What exactly does that mean? Sounds like methane will really ramp up the temperature, doesn’t it? Competent reporters ought to be asking well thought out questions to nail that down. “In degrees Celsius, exactly how much will methane run up the temperature if it increases by “X” amount?” and, “How long will it take for that to happen?” Objective answers to those two questions are probably quite revealing .

          • Wayne

            Steve, The approximate “86″ times heat trapping capacity of methane in the atmosphere is in comparison to the heat trapping C02 capacity, and that “86″ times approximate figure is a comparison within an approximate 30 year period. The 100 year projection is more like an approximate 27 times greater heat trapping impact than CO2. There are projections that estimate the average degree of Climate warming of the Planet over time, but they are not related to the multiple methane figures of “86″ or “27″, but to the combination of methane and CO2 impacts. The projected temperature (and ocean) rise figures are stated in relation to parts per billion of CO2 in the atmosphere. That’s how I understand it. Perhaps someone can explain it better.

          • Steve Case

            Thanks for the reply. You said:

            “Perhaps someone can explain it better.”

            Yes indeed, it needs to be explained. The “86 times more powerful” is being quoted by reporters in the main stream press nearly daily, I do a search (-:

            A good reporter should be able to ask, “How much in degrees F or C per unit of methane will the temperature increase and how long will that take?”

      • Wayne

        Jim Willis, for God’s sake, this article appears in StateImpactPa five days after one by Susan Phillips that begins “A new study shows that background levels of methane in Northeast Pennsylvania increased significantly at a time when well drilling activity decreased, pointing to leaks of natural gas during production and transportation.” This phenomenon (do you know what that word means?), is a thoroughly vetted, long established fact (that methane leaks resulting from production and distribution are rampant and a serious problem throughout the U.S.). What about that don’t you understand? How blind to scientific reality are you willing to be while you pursue your god of money? You are an embarrassment to humanity.

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