Energy Exchange

Scientists identify opportunities to better understand oilfield wastewater

By Cloelle Danforth and Nichole Saunders

Collaborative research is a critical element for identifying unforeseen risks associated with using the oil industry’s wastewater outside the oilfield. That’s the recommendation of a new peer-reviewed paper accepted this week in the Journal of Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM).

The paper comes at a crucial moment for the oil and gas industry, which generates some 900 billion gallons of salty, chemical-filled water (also called produced water) each year. Traditionally, companies dispose of this wastewater deep underground where it is less likely to cause contamination. But economics and water scarcity are forcing questions about other ways to treat, reuse and even repurpose this wastewater. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release a report very soon that could make it more common for companies to discharge their wastewater into rivers and streams.

The IEAM paper outlines the conclusions of a multi-day toxicity workshop where experts from the oil and gas industry, academia, government and the environmental community collectively identified key knowledge gaps associated with this waste stream and determined tools, technologies and methods needed to help close those gaps.

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Posted in Water / Tagged | Comments are closed

Not all biogas is created equal

By Joe Rudek and Stefan Schwietzke

In this climate-conscious economy, where many consumers demand cleaner energy options, gas companies are exploring more opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint.

One option gaining traction is biogas – a form of natural gas that comes from decaying biological sources (like decomposing food and manure), rather than fossil fuels. In fact, gas utilities from Vermont to California have introduced programs to allow their customers to purchase biogas through the existing gas system.

Some utilities suggest that biogas cuts carbon emissions across the energy sector. However, the reality is that biogas must be developed with safeguards that protect the climate and local environmental conditions, and is only one tool among many needed to address the climate crisis.

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Posted in Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New Mexico’s million-ton methane problem

By Jon Goldstein and David Lyon

You can’t see what you don’t look for. That axiom is at the heart of the problem with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane emission estimates. It is also why a new analysis based on empirical data and cutting-edge science finds a far larger methane emissions problem in New Mexico than previously thought.

EPA estimates emissions based on data reported by oil and gas operators and a set of assumptions about leak rates called “emission factors.” EDF and our research partners decided to take a closer look at emissions in New Mexico, conducting direct measurements at well facilities and applying the latest science to understand leaks in the supply chain.

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

New Mexico legislation marks new focus on improved oil and gas oversight under Gov. Lujan Grisham

By Jon Goldstein and Nichole Saunders

When New Mexico legislators adjourned last Saturday, they had a long list of accomplishments for the first session under Gov. Lujan Grisham’s executive leadership. Near the top of that list is a bill that, once signed, will mark the first major legislative reform for the state’s oil and gas industry in over a decade.

House Bill 546 has significant implications for how the state oversees its large and growing oil and gas industry. This includes restoring crucial powers to the state’s main oil and gas regulator and enabling it to protect the state’s air and water resources from oil and gas pollution, as well as clarifying how New Mexico manages the massive volume of oilfield wastewater, or “produced water,” generated by operators. These reforms, championed by Sen. Richard Martinez, Rep. Nathan Small and Rep. Matthew McQueen will begin to deliver oil and gas policy that New Mexicans can be proud of.

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Posted in Natural Gas, New Mexico, produced water, produced water / Tagged , | Comments are closed

Report reveals heavy burden of energy waste, methane emissions on Navajo communities

By Matt Miccioli, EDF Stanford Schneider Fellow

A recent study of oil and gas methane emissions on the Navajo Nation reveals companies operating on tribal lands pollute 65 percent more than the national average, wasting millions in tribal resources every year and underscoring the opportunity for tribal leaders to reduce emissions.

The analysis, conducted by Environmental Defense Fund and released in conjunction with Grand Canyon Trust, Dinè CARE and Native American Voters Alliance, quantifies the volume of natural gas burned off, vented or leaked from oil and gas production on Navajo lands. It found that companies are wasting about 5.2 percent of their natural gas, generating about 13,000 tons of methane pollution.

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Posted in Air Quality, General, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

A new energy future for Puerto Rico beyond recovery

By Daniel Whittle and Ronny Sandoval

Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico in 2017 was overwhelming. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. Basic services, including power and water, were knocked out for months and the economy ground to a halt.

Power and other services have since been restored to nearly all parts of the island, but the long-term recovery continues. This recovery may not attract as much news as the disaster that led to it, but for Puerto Rico’s long-term prosperity, it is just as important and urgent as restoring basic services.

Puerto Rico’s grid was outdated and fragile before the hurricane, so simply rebuilding and restoring it to pre-Maria condition would be a mistake. Instead, the people of Puerto Rico have an opportunity to build a new energy system that can better protect residents from future super storms, improve the quality of life for everyone and support the island’s economy for decades to come. This will take local leadership, collective action and a new approach to how the energy system is designed, financed and managed.

Communities have been making remarkable progress towards rebuilding. Following their lead is key to making any solution to Puerto Rico’s energy crisis successful in the long term. Together, investors, businesses and nonprofit organizations can add to these efforts by sharing their experiences and new ideas to create a better energy future for Puerto Rico. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy / Tagged , , | Comments are closed