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So, what’s the big deal about methane?

Heather Taylor-Miesle, March 2, 2017

Lately, you may have heard a lot about methane. It’s been a hot issue at the federal level, and is now in the headlines in Ohio. Why all the fuss?

When methane pollution escapes from the oil and gas sector, it comes with other nasty hitchhiker air pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. This air pollution is known to trigger life threatening asthma attacks, aggravate respiratory conditions, and increase the risk of developing cancer.

In fact, we’ve heard directly from Ohioans living in the heart of shale country about just how serious these health consequences can be. In case you think this is just a concern for a handful of Ohioans, data shows that over 3.1 million Ohioans live within a half-mile from oil and gas development. Protections against methane pollution are especially important for the health and well-being of millions of people across our state.

Jenny Hunkler, a Belmont County resident, knows first hand what this means. Learn more about her story below.

Methane is also a very potent greenhouse gas. In fact, it is 80 times more potent than carbon in the short term. The oil and gas sector is the leading industrial source of methane pollution. Up until very recently, there were no standards whatsoever to put a check on the oil and gas industry’s methane problem.

Compressor Stations

In recent years, Ohio has seen a large increase in the number of compressor stations due to the ramp up of natural gas development and production. Compressor stations are notorious air polluters.

According to the US EPA, compressor stations are responsible for approximately a third of U.S. oil and gas methane emissions. As Jenny’s story highlights, the pollution from these operations is substantial, and can have dire consequences for people living nearby.

Signs of progress in Ohio

Today, Governor Kasich announced a new permitting process for compressor stations that will lead to an overall reduction in methane pollution. This is good news for Ohio and for those who live near these facilities.

It’s also a sign that despite what is happening at the federal level, Ohio has the ability to lead on environmental issues and do what’s right and just for our people.

While we support the overall reductions that will result from these new efforts to curb methane from compressor stations, the OEC believes that public input is critical, and that we must give citizens a voice over matters that affect their health.

Under the new “general” permitting process, Ohioans will have fewer opportunities to weigh in as companies seek permits to build compressor stations. The OEC urges our decision makers to take steps to expand, not limit, the public’s involvement in these incredibly important decisions.

Threats against methane protection at the federal level

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently finished rules to limit releases of methane and associated air pollution from oil and gas wells in National Forests and other federal lands. These protections are cost-effective and common sense. They save American taxpayers money while keeping our communities healthier and reducing America’s energy dependency.

Despite all of these benefits, congress is set to roll back these standards at any moment. A measure called the congressional review act has passed in the US House, and is pending a vote in the US Senate. Senator Portman still remains undecided on whether he will stand up for these standards.

Stay engaged and weigh in on cutting methane pollution on public lands

Time is of the essence. We need you to reach out to Senator Portman today to tell him to stand up for our public lands and defend the BLM’s common sense methane standard.