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New Data Reveals Increase in Emissions from Natural Gas Drilling Operations as Activity Increases, Reporting Requirements Expand

HARRISBURG, PA -- The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released the 2013 air emissions inventory for the natural gas drilling industry that shows increases in several categories of contaminants. The data is required to be reported to DEP under Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act.

The inventory represents 2013 emissions from Marcellus Shale natural gas production and processing operations as well as compressor stations that receive gas from coal gas and conventional oil and gas well sites.

“The increases were not unexpected,” Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley said. “The industry is growing, and each year we are expanding the types and number of facilities from which we collect data so that we have a more comprehensive understanding of air quality issues.”

In 2013, the number of well sites included in the emissions inventory increased by 18.3 percent. The number of midstream facilities that submitted data increased by 8.2 percent.

The 2013 data shows the following difference from 2012 levels:

• Sulfur dioxide – 57 percent increase
• Volatile Organic Compounds – 19 percent increase
• Particulate matter – 12 percent increase
• Nitrogen oxides -- 8 percent increase
• Methane – 13 percent decrease
• Carbon monoxide – 10 percent decrease

DEP began collecting emissions data from owners and operators of unconventional natural gas sources in 2011. For 2012, DEP expanded the data reporting requirement to include mid-stream compressor stations that support the conventional natural gas industry. DEP again expanded the reporting requirements in 2013 to include data from mid-stream compressor stations that support coal-bed methane formations.

In addition to compressor stations, other sources and activities of natural gas operations that DEP identified as part of the inventory include dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitives, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels and impoundments; venting and blow down systems; well heads and well completions.

“While we are experiencing some increases in emissions from the natural gas sector, overall, our air quality continues to improve due to emissions reductions from other point sources such as electric generating units,” Quigley said. “We remain committed to developing and implementing the most effective ways to control and reduce emissions from Pennsylvania’s natural gas sites.”

To view the complete emissions inventory summarized by company, source category, county and well farm, visit DEP’s website at, and click on the “Natural Gas Emissions Inventory” button.
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