Tony Ventello just told Congress new EPA methane regulations would hinder a natural gas industry that has already reduced emissions.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing in Washington D.C. on September 15 to discuss the impact of the EPA’s recent methane regulations. It was, appropriately titled as A Solution In Search of a Problem: EPA’s Methane Regulations.
Tony Ventello, Executive Director of the Progress Authority (Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, Pennsylvania) traveled to the capital to be a witness. He was joined by Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute, Dr. Bernard Weinstein of the Maguire Energy Institute of the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University and Elgie Holstein of Environmental Defense Fund.
Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, in his opening statement, expressed “concern about the EPA’s expansive interpretation of its regulatory scope” and “use of questionable scientific basis for rule making.” He also stated that the “EPA is now pursuing a war on natural gas” and should, instead, be focused on the way the shale revolution has helped the economy and created good-paying jobs.
Chairman Lamar Smith, of Texas, spoke of how the EPA “cherry picks the science that fits its agenda and ignores the science that does not supports its position. Like all regulations promulgated by the EPA,” he said “the methane regulation is no different: it stifles economic growth, destroys American jobs, and increases energy prices.”
Ventello said “he lives, works and raises his family in heart of the Marcellus Shale.” He explained how natural gas has supported schools and hospitals with billions in investments. He testified that “distribution and infrastructure is critical.” Because some pipelines have been curtailed, he said, CNG and LNG has had to be transported by “virtual pipelines” in tanker trucks along the interstates and highways to get it to its destination.
The Progress Authority has, Ventello noted, helped bring two new energy generation facilities to the area, Panda Power Station and IMG Energy. These are both natural gas fired power generation facilities. There are seven of these plants proposed in the area and these represent about $20 million in created jobs that go along with them.
Ventello further explained that “combined heat and power have been a massive undertaking. A lot of the larger facilities – education, manufacturing and hospitals – are getting involved in combined heat and power projects.” There is substantial support and investment of these projects, he reported.
Public transportation is now being fueled with compressed natural gas and there are several public and private fueling stations serving the area. He stated that “over 5,500 local jobs are being supported by natural gas” and “we have strong manufacturing with natural gas.”
Ventello also noted “agricultural production is on the rise.” Recent data from the Penn State Agricultural Extension and USDA shows that, prior to 2008, dairy cow numbers were declining. Since Marcellus Gas development started in 2008, natural gas has provided income to the farmers to re-invest in their farms. “Natural gas has been a complimentary land use, has kept land in large parcels which is conducive to agriculture and it maintains a rural way of life.”
“I just want to summarize by saying increased regulation will reverse the established initiatives that we have in environmental benefits, economic investments in jobs and energy independence with over regulation.”
When asked “how would poorly thought out, hasty regulations stop economic revitalization and development that has been occurring in Northeast Pa?” Ventello answered “Simply by placing unnecessary burden or by additional cost on an industry already moving in the right direction.”
Here is the video of the full hearing: