DEP calculates health benefits of reduced air pollution; methodology questioned
Pennsylvania's air quality improvement resulted in $14 billion to $37 billion in annual public health benefits, in part because of a shift to more natural gas power generation, state environmental officials said on Tuesday.
Environmental groups immediately questioned the figures.
The state mandated that gas producers and pipeline companies provide data about pollutants and tallied air impacts as part of an effort to judge air pollution resulting from the gas drilling boom. The industry's primary pollution comes from ozone-causing nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide — more than 23,000 tons per year combined — but is less than 9 percent of what other industries produce, according to the data.
Replacing coal with natural gas to generate electricity provided large reductions in overall pollution, the state Department of Environmental Protection said. The DEP calculated drastic reductions in pollution statewide and billions of dollars of public benefits from fewer sick days, fewer hospital and doctor visits, and longer lives.
Environmental groups questioned the DEP's methodology behind the calculations. The Garfield-based Group Against Smog and Pollution wrote the agency about drilling and processing companies it left out. The agency didn't create a uniform method for companies to measure and report data, said George Jugovic Jr., leader of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future.
It “is a bit like telling two people to measure the amount of water in a bathtub without knowing that one was using a bucket and the other a ruler,” Jugovic, a former DEP official, said in an email. “How do you know the margin of error unless you know the accuracy and precision of how the numbers were derived?”
There are several ways to calculate emissions, depending on each company's technology, DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said. All were verified through other regulatory efforts and the department gave each company the flexibility to use what's best, Sunday said.
“The results are valid,” Sunday said.
The department made the emission data available online at bit.ly/SPZ7mP.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
- Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
- Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
- Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
- 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
- Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
- 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
- Pittsburgh Police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
- Armstrong inmate escapee charged with murdering family matriarch
- Heroin suspect out of Westmoreland County jail on $100K bond
- Pirates place Burnett on 15-day disabled list