Significant Majority of Pennsylvania Voters Support Strong EPA Safeguards to Cut Methane from Oil and Gas Operations

Press Release

New Poll Finds 69% Support EPA Safeguards to Reduce Methane
Pollution from Oil and Gas Operations in Pennsylvania; Issue is Good
Policy and Politics

(Harrisburg, PA) – A new poll released today by EDF Action, Earthworks Action Fund, Sierra Club, and CATF Action finds that a strong majority voters in Pennsylvania, a political battleground and oil and gas producing state, support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to take swift action to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Among Pennsylvania voters, a strong majority support stricter limits on methane emissions, acknowledge that climate change is a major problem, agree that the EPA should take strong action to combat climate change, and that we need stricter regulations to reduce air pollution from the oil and gas industry.

Key findings from this poll include:

69% of voters in Pennsylvania support the EPA strengthening and finalizing stricter limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry including regular inspections of leaks at all oil and gas wells, tougher equipment standards, and monitoring of large emissions events known as “super-emitters.”

A strong majority of swing voters (73%) in Pennsylvania support EPA adopting stronger limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Voters in Pennsylvania think that if the EPA were to set stronger limits on methane emissions, it would have a positive impact on climate change (57%), the quality of the air we breathe (66%), and the health of our families (63%).

When forced to choose, a 56% to 42% majority of Pennsylvania voters agree that stronger methane limits will “create more jobs by encouraging innovation and investments in technology” rather than “destroying more jobs by increasing cost and making American oil and gas companies less competitive.”

A majority of voters in Pennsylvania (60%) agree that the EPA should strengthen its proposal to eliminate emissions from routine flaring at oil wells.

“The poll makes clear that Pennsylvania voters support climate action – including stronger limits on methane emissions,” said pollster Andrew Baumann, Senior Vice President at Global Strategy Group. “Further, if candidates run on limiting methane pollution, the polling suggests they will gain support.”

“This poll underscores that commonsense methane rules from the US EPA are a political winner with voters across the Commonwealth. Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas is one of the fastest, most cost-effective ways to curb pollution and protect public health, and addresses the concerns of Pennsylvania voters,” said John Rutecki, Regulatory and Legislative Manager, Appalachia, EDF Action.

“An estimated 1.4 million people, including more than 200,000 children, live within half a mile of oil and gas facilities in Pennsylvania. This poll highlights that many Pennsylvanians agree that by implementing strong safeguards to curb methane pollution, the EPA can effectively safeguard our climate and public health, ensuring cleaner air, a more stable climate, and a safer future for families across the country,” said Sarah Corcoran, Deputy Director of Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter.

Families and communities across Pennsylvania are already dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis, including flash floods and extreme heat. The more than one million Pennsylvanians living in close proximity to oil and gas facilities are put at risk by air pollution from fossil fuel operations. Now is the time for our leaders to act and to enact stronger protections from methane pollution that the majority of Pennsylvania voters support and deserve,” said Lauren Pagel, Earthworks Action Fund.”

Background on the EPA methane rule

In November 2022, President Biden and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an updated draft rule to cut methane and other harmful pollutants from oil and gas operations. The updated rule makes important improvements and builds on the original draft rule proposed in 2021, but must be further strengthened. In order to meaningfully address climate change, protect public health, and create new jobs, the final EPA methane rule must maintain the comprehensive leak detection and repair (LDAR) standards, ensure that operators at wells capture associated gas and eliminate pollution from routine flaring, maintain zero-emitting pneumatic equipment requirements, strengthen the standards to address emissions from storage tanks, provide a clear pathway for communities and individuals to participate and engage in the Super Emitter Response Program, and maintain the requirement that abandoned wells are subject to inspections until closure.