On an early March evening, behind the seemingly placid Garfield Artworks façade, the Group Against Smog and Pollution was busy instructing a hall full of concerned citizens about a proposed Marcellus Shale compressor station and how to best interact with the authorities in charge of its permits.
Lauren Burge, Staff Attorney with GASP, spoke on the details of the station’s machinery, which would include 5 compressor engines, 3 dehydrator/reboilers, and 2 produced water tanks on a plot of land in Allegheny County, just two miles from the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.
The projected data for emissions from the facility does not include the associated operations or equipment, such as wells, gas pipelines, truck traffic, and other components that contribute to air pollution.
Joe Osborne, Legal Director, spoke on why the new compressor station is cause for concern: not just because of the ozone precursors and other emissions guaranteed to leak from this particular site, but also because of the rate at which oil and gas extraction is expanding in Pennsylvania, despite the warnings to be found in other regions engaged in the drilling process, such as Texas and Wyoming.
One attendee in the audience genuinely wondered, “If it’s a cat in Wyoming, why isn’t it a cat in Pennsylvania?”
In our case in the Northeast, the problem doesn’t necessarily lie in the geographical location of any single proposed well, but rather, it is a problem of numbers. Our already-existing non-attainment areas roughly overlay parts of the Utica and Marcellus Shales beneath them (vividly portrayed on a map in the meeting’s PowerPoint presentation). There is an existing excess of air pollution; to increase the amount of drilling here is to potentially worsen an already polluted area.
In order to make your opinion on this proposed compressor station known, you can submit comments via e-mail or first class mail to the Allegheny County Health Department, at email@example.com or 301 39th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201, respectively. The deadline for submitting comments is March 27, 2012.
Please check out our tips for writing effective comments on our website. Alternately, if you would like to voice your opinion publicly, a hearing has been scheduled for 6 p.m. that Tuesday, March 27, in Building 7 of the Clack Health Center, 301 39th St Pittsburgh, PA; schedule a testimony slot by calling (412) 578-8115 before 4 p.m. March 23rd.
— Christine Rigby, SCA Green Cities Fellow