On September 15th, 2016, Tony Ventello, Executive Director of the Central Bradford Progress Authority, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology about the potential impacts of new Environmental Protection Agency methane regulation. Tony joined a panel of experts debating the relevancy and necessity of the proposed methane regulations.
During his testimony, Ventello said the new methane regulations by the EPA would only hinder a natural gas industry that is already moving in the right direction environmentally. He also stressed there would be significant unintended consequences from the regulations that the EPA should consider. Specifically he said: “Increased regulation will reverse the established initiatives we have in environmental benefits, economic investment and jobs, and energy independence.”
Ventello outlined the integral role that the natural gas industry has had in recent years throughout Northeast Pennsylvania, which includes the support of schools, the growth of local hospitals, the integration of fueling public transportation, and the support of more than 5,500 jobs among the region’s major employers. Expensive & onerous regulations threaten the future expansion of all of these things.
Projects of note for Ventello included the development of the Panda and IMG power plants that run on natural gas, which has been among several other proposals for energy production in the area. Tony also discussed interest in building out virtual pipelines to supply underserved or stranded users because of stalled infrastructure projects like the Constitution pipeline.
The most profound, and often overlooked, benefit Ventello stressed concerning natural gas development is the overwhelming impact it has had on agriculture. “One thing I think is extremely critical is that agriculture is on the rise in our area as a result (of natural gas),” said Ventello. “In 2008, it was in a decline in the Marcellus Shale. Since then it has been on an incline. Natural gas has been a complimentary land use and has kept the land and large parcels conducive to agriculture and maintaining a rural way of life. …Farmers now have some income to reinvest into the farm.”
Hearing Highlights How Costly Methane Regulations Will Yield Little Climate Benefit
Dr. Bernard Weinstein, Professor and Associate Director at Maguire Energy Institute and Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, and Erik Milito, American Petroleum Institute (API) Director of Upstream and Industry Operations also testified on the panel. Energy in Depth’s Seth Whitehead reports what each had to say in his piece Hearing Highlights How Costly Methane Regulations Will Yield Little Climate Benefit.
Dr. Weinstien tried to contextualize the global impacts (or lack thereof) these regulations would have. He noted: “Even if we did shut in all of our oil and gas wells, it would have little effect on the environment, especially if other countries continue doing what they’re doing. … I think we need a dose of realism.” [Emphasis Added]
Weinstein further noted that natural gas production has increased 70 percent since 1990 and during that same time frame, methane emissions have significantly decreased, bringing to question why these new regulations are needed in the first place.
Erik Milito also made this point, and went on to highlight natural gas’ already substantial role in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions:
“Thanks to industry efforts over the past several decades, the United States is leading the world in reducing emissions – down to near 20-year lows – all while energy production has been going up significantly. Despite our industry’s success in reducing methane emissions, the EPA, and several other agencies continue to seek duplicative regulations that will impose significant costs without corresponding environmental or consumer benefits. We have proven we can protect the environment, grow our economy, and simultaneously save the average American family an average $1,337 in energy costs per year.”
Milito also explained that “1 billion bcf of natural gas production equates to 32,000 jobs,” highlighting how the shale boom has helped the U.S. emerge from the depths of the Great Recession.
The full hearing, titled A Solution In Search of a Problem: EPA’s Methane Regulations, can be viewed here: