A Chesapeake Bay Foundation infrared video investigation of natural gas drilling and processing sites in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia found invisible air pollution rising from almost three quarters of those examined.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) sent the video to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today with a letter explaining that the video shows that emissions from drilling sites are not being adequately controlled, and that proposed new EPA regulations for the drilling industry do not recognize the extent of the problem or a solution. CBF's video provides important new evidence that "the industry is not sufficiently limiting the amount of leaks from drilling and processing operations,"Jon Mueller, CBF's Vice President for Litigation, wrote to the federal agency.
The video, which can be viewed by clicking here, demonstrates the need for a comprehensive federal study of the environmental and human health impacts of the growing amount of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the region’s Marcellus shale formation, according to two experts who reviewed CBF’s videotapes.
The images also raise troubling questions about exemptions for gas drilling rigs from air pollution control permits and regulation in federal and state law, the experts said.
“It makes no sense to exempt an emissions source that we don’t know enough about,” said one of the experts, George Jugovic, former director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s southwest region office, who examined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) videos. “In Pennsylvania, we just don’t know if the emissions (from drilling rigs) are significant or negligible.”