Air pollution in Pennsylvania has declined significantly since 2008 because of regulations mandating pollution controls and increased use of natural gas for power production, according to 2011 emissions data released Tuesday by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP said the pollution reductions translate to $14 billion to $37 billion in annual public health benefits.
Emissions from the state's Marcellus Shale gas drilling and production operations in 2011 added 16,542 tons of nitrogen oxides, 6,852 tons of carbon monoxide and 2,820 tons of volatile organic compounds to the air, according to data released by the DEP on Tuesday.
But overall pollutant emissions from all industrial sources, including power plants, have been reduced. Even with the additional Marcellus emissions, sulfur dioxide emissions are down by 511,187 tons from 2008 to 2011, and nitrogen oxides emissions have fallen by 26,668 tons. Volatile organic compound emissions are down by 1,488 tons, and fine particle emissions also have been reduced.
The emissions data are part of a comprehensive air emissions inventory the DEP is required to submit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every three years.
DEP Secretary Michael Krancer said the drilling emissions "represent a small fraction of air pollution in the state."
The Marcellus emissions inventory was based on data reported by 57 well-drilling companies and 40 operators of 150 compressor stations in the state.
Approximately 6,000 Marcellus wells have been drilled in the state, and about half of those are in production.
Don Hopey: email@example.com or 412-263-1983.