Energy Exchange

All pain, no gain: BLM methane rule rollback hurts Westerners, helps no one

The rhetoric of President Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke might suggest they care about maximizing America’s abundant natural resources. However, their actions repeatedly prove the opposite.

Every day roughly one million dollars’ worth of American natural gas is lost from taxpayer-owned lands through flaring, intentional releases, and leaks. After first temporarily suspending measures to cut this waste, the Department of the Interior earlier this week proposed ‘replacing’ it with a measure that will turn the clock back to the 30-year-old rigged system that allows operators to waste this public resource with virtual impunity.

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Posted in BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Clean energy – not natural gas – drove decarbonization in 2017

Despite attempts by the Trump administration and the coal industry to limit clean energy in favor of fossil fuels – including a tariff on solar energy, a thinly-disguised bailout for coal and nuclear power plants (that was rightly rejected), and a dramatic proposed cut to energy research – we are accelerating the transition to a cleaner electric grid. In fact, last year was the first time the reduction in power sector emissions can be attributed more to energy conservation and renewable energy than switching from coal to natural gas.

The new 2018 Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) Factbook* highlights the electric power sector as the driving force behind the decarbonization of the U.S. economy. In total, power sector emissions declined 4.2 percent in 2017, mostly due to the 18.4 GW of new renewable energy we added to the grid (a 14 percent increase over the previous year’s total U.S. renewable capacity). In 2017, renewable generation represented about 18 percent of total U.S. generation (around10 percent from non-hydro renewables alone).

This explosive growth further cements renewable energy’s role in reducing emissions from the U.S. power sector. Let’s dig into the factors that led to this growth, and how we can extend this trend of emissions reductions from renewables beyond 2017. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Energy Equity, Grid Modernization, Natural Gas, Solar Energy / Leave a comment

Report reveals pollution transparency problems for majority of New Mexico’s energy companies

Much is known about the methane pollution coming from New Mexico’s oil and gas industry. Scientists studying methane emissions have found the nation’s most concentrated cloud of methane shrouding the state’s San Juan Basin. And since methane is the primary components of natural gas, we know the state’s operators are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars per year because of these leaks.

We know much less, however, from New Mexico’s oil and gas companies themselves.

A new report reveals that far too few oil and gas producers are disclosing information about their methane waste problem.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed

EPA inventory shows U.S. oil & gas methane emissions remain a major problem

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft of its annual update to the U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGI). The draft, which now includes emissions data for 2016, estimates oil and gas operators released 8.1 million metric tons (MMT) of methane of the course of the year through leaks, venting, and incomplete combustion—a mere one percent reduction from 2015.

EPA’s estimates of annual oil and gas methane emissions are likewise essentially flat from 2005 to 2016, showing a three percent increase. While some industry groups like to highlight the 15 percent decrease in emissions from 1990 to 2016, this ignores the fact that emission estimates have hovered around 8.1 MMT for the last dozen years, having roughly the same near-term climate impact every year as the emissions of 167 coal-fired power plants. Recent science has also suggested that methane is even more potent over twenty years than previously thought; the newer science suggests these emissions pack 14 percent more warming power, and are equivalent to more than 190 coal-fired power plants.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New science suggests methane packs more warming power than previously thought

Methane (CH4) Molecule

It’s long been known that methane is a major contributor to global warming, responsible for roughly a quarter of the warming we’re experiencing today and second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on the current climate.

But research suggests methane has an even more potent warming effect on the climate than scientists previously thought.

For example, a study in Geophysical Research Letters significantly revises estimates of the energy trapped by methane by including its previously-neglected absorption of near-infrared radiation (past research included only infrared absorption—a different part of the radiation spectrum).

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Posted in Methane / Comments are closed

As ESG goes mainstream, methane disclosure divide looms large on investor agenda

By Kate Gaumond and Sean Wright

The demand for corporate transparency is here to stay. Just last year, 390 investors representing more than $22 trillion in assets signed a letter in support of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, advocating for a unified set of recommendations for corporate climate disclosure. So as financial markets increasingly recognize Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks, and increasingly embrace ESG strategies, oil and gas companies failing to report on environmental risks, like methane emissions, will be at a disadvantage.

Yet despite the reputational and financial risks posed by methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, over 40 percent of oil and gas companies analyzed in a new EDF report fail to report even basic information on methane management. The report finds that the quality and quantity of methane risk management reporting has increased amongst nearly 60 percent of companies analyzed. But the overall improvement has not been enough.

The report also finds a link between investor engagement on methane and a company’s subsequent reporting, and suggests that the companies failing to provide any methane information should expect increasing pressure and engagement from investors as demand for material ESG information continues to rise.

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