Friday, December 6, 2013

Reality Check: PA Natural Gas Heating Bills Lowest Since 2003 But Gas Drilling Rules & Enforcement Are Weak

Natural gas heating bills in Pennsylvania this December are the lowest since 2003, according to data from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, as reported by Marc Levy of the AP.

While many consumers who need lower heating bills are getting them, virtually all consumers want strong gas drilling rules and enforcement of them. Consumers don't want local communities where gas drilling takes place to experience readily avoidable environmental impacts. Yet, the reality is that current rules and enforcement are too weak and too many local people experience impacts that could be reduced or eliminated.

For example, flaring rules are lax. Pits for storing drilling wastewater are not banned. The best pollution controls on compressors and other equipment are not required to be used and so often are not. As a result, air emissions that could be cut by 90% are not so slashed.

The size of the regulatory staff regulating the gas industry is too small. Local communities' authority to zone gas drilling has been crippled. And no drilling tax is being levied.

Now is the time to make the gas industry use the best technologies and best practices.

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