Letters to the Editor

Kudos to Girard Estates group

How appropriate, now that we have experienced our first arctic blast, that a community group like Girard Estates Neighbors Association is already prepared to help keep needy neighbors warm. Thanks to Mark Zimmaro for reporting on their ninth annual Winter Coat Drive (“Girard Estates spreading warmth,” Feb. 1).

The special partnership between GENA and charitable organizations like Bethesda Project and Project Home, founded by Sister Mary Scullion of the Sisters of Mercy, provides much relief to those who are in need of warm clothing and/or shelter especially during winter.

As a former volunteer at Project Home, I am fully aware of the needs of those suffering from poverty and homelessness. Their needs do not stop with the change of seasons. The work of PH and Bethesda Project’s homeless shelter, Our Brother’s Place, can actually save lives year-round.

So kudos to the Girard Estate Neighbors Association for collecting and contributing warm clothing to these charitable organizations. Thanks again to Mark Zimmaro for informing us of this life-saving mission.

Gloria C. Endres

Tell EPA to protect the environment

Did you know methane is the main component of natural gas and is the second most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide? It’s more than 87 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Pennsylvania is the second largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. with over 81,500 natural gas wells. Some 70,000 of those wells are classified as “low producing.” Under state law, they have no air pollution inspection requirements. If the equipment malfunctions, these wells leak methane for weeks, months or even years. They represent only 6% of oil and gas production but they release 50% of the industry’s climate-changing air pollution. They also release known carcinogens like benzene.

This wasted methane does not disappear harmlessly into the wind. It drifts up to our atmosphere where it worsens climate change. The extreme heat it generates in the atmosphere turns existing air pollution, specifically volatile organic compounds, into dangerous ground-level-ozone, usually known as smog, and particulate matter 2.5, commonly known as soot. Soot and smog settles into the lungs, hearts and brains of all of us, our children and grandchildren.

If you believe that we need to increase safety around gas use, from how it’s drilled to how it is used then you have an opportunity to voice your concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently collecting public comments on new safeguards that would require regular monitoring for leaks of methane at all oil and gas wells. The way the rules work now, companies in effect apply for an exception to create air pollution by flaring or venting gas they claim can’t be used. We need EPA to only allow flaring and venting of gas in absolute emergencies. Otherwise companies should be made to capture the usable gas that is released from many different parts of wells and compressor stations.

The rule will also create a system where third parties can submit air pollution data and EPA will require drillers to fix pollution incidents and report the repairs publicly. EPA needs to clarify how this program will work and make sure impacted residents have access to air monitoring professionals. The rule will also require inspections at all gas wells until they are successfully plugged, which will hopefully eliminate the reckless industry practice of abandoning gas wells after they are used.

Luckily there’s $1.55 billion in federal funds from the Methane Emissions Reduction Program within the Inflation Reduction Act to make this all happen. Isn’t it smarter to capture this wasted gas first before sinking fortunes into drilling new wells that will only continue to harm our environment and children? Don’t we want the strongest, most protective rules possible?

We have an opportunity right now to plug these loopholes and extinguish these methane flares. There’s no time to waste. Go to cleanaircouncil.salsalabs.org/fracking.

Comments are due by Feb. 13. Let the EPA know you want to protect our environment now, for our children and their children.

Susan Patrone

Past President Passyunk Square Civic Association

Past President Columbus Square Advisory Council

Block Captain 1500 Block South 13th St.