Energy Exchange

California sets new standards for natural gas storage sites

Data visualization shows the methane plume from the Aliso Canyon gas leak in red.

Three years ago, a blowout at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility forced thousands of nearby families to evacuate their homes and leaked over 100,000 tons of methane and other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. The facility’s operator, Southern California Gas, wasn’t prepared for the scope or scale of the disaster that unfolded over four months.

The disaster demonstrated the risks of under-regulated natural gas storage sites, as well as the importance of not being over-reliant on natural gas. Regulators in California and across the country realized the need for better oversight and management.

As a result, California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) recently finalized new rules for managing the risky, industrial enterprise of underground gas storage. These rules are a foray into an underdeveloped policy space, and are the product of collaboration with stakeholders including national laboratories, the environmental community, and the federal government.

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Posted in Aliso Canyon, California, General, Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged | Comments are closed

Three key takeaways from Ground Water Protection Council’s latest report on oil and gas regulations

Aerial footage shows the footprint of oil and gas development across the U.S. landscape.

A recent report is helping shine a spotlight on three emerging issues facing the oil and gas industry and the agencies that regulate development practices.

The triennial report, funded by a consortium of government, industry and nonprofit stakeholders including EDF, was developed by the Ground Water Protection Council, an organization of state regulators working to protect the nation’s groundwater resources. The report surveys 300+ water protection strategies from 27 state oil and gas agencies. It evaluates how those strategies have evolved over time and identifies key issues for policymakers to consider going forward.

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

The secret sauce for preventing another Aliso Canyon-sized gas leak in California

More than a year and a half after the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility caused more than 100,000 tons of methane to leak into the atmosphere – amounting to be our nation’s largest-ever gas leak,  California regulators continue to labor away at improving the rules  that could prevent another gas storage disaster.

That leak was a wake up call to regulators around the country charged with protecting workers, people and the environment from gas storage facility accidents.   Read More »

Posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New app lets users see how close they are to an oil or gas well

Across the U.S. more than 15 million people live within a mile of an oil or gas well – and a new app is making it easier for those people to know exactly where those wells are located within their neighborhoods.

The WellFinder app uses data from state agencies to help users know not only the exact location of these wells, but also how old they are, who operates them, whether they are still active, what type of well it is (i.e. oil, gas, injection) and who to call if something doesn’t appear to be functioning properly.

Companies and regulators often find out about water contamination and air pollution from the people who live near these facilities.  With this kind of transparent data now at our fingertips, communities can keep a more watchful eye on oil and gas operations – ultimately enhancing the environmental performance of the industry. Read More »

Posted in Data Access, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

A cheat sheet for preventing catastrophe at gas storage sites

Today, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council published a new report entitled “Underground Gas Storage Regulatory Considerations: A Guide for State and Federal Regulatory Agencies.” Like the title says, the report helps regulators make decisions that will ultimately make gas storage facilities across the country safer and more secure.

Gas storage reached many Americans’ attention in the aftermath of the major leak at the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, which forced thousands of families to evacuate their homes after a massive leak caused more than 100,000 tons of methane to escape into the air.

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Posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Climate, Energy Storage, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Looking to the States to Improve Natural Gas Storage Policies

Stories about gas storage rarely make headlines, but the fact is there are hundreds of underground natural gas storage facilities peppered across the country, and when something goes wrong, the impacts can be devastating. For example, in 2015 a leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Southern California ended up displacing thousands from their homes and was considered one of the biggest environmental disasters in modern U.S. history.

Historically, state agencies have been responsible for regulating these facilities – resulting in a patchwork of protections. But after Aliso Canyon, the federal government stepped in to provide uniform safety standards applicable across the country. Read More »

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