Author Archives: David Lyon

What’s new for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program?

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) data online. While there are positive trends in the type of data included and the ways that data are measured, the general picture is of an industry with many remaining opportunities to reduce emissions.

The GHGRP is an emissions reporting program for large facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalents (MT CO2e) of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The data provided by the GHGRP are invaluable for understanding the sectors and sources responsible for GHG emissions and can guide the design of effective policies for reducing emissions.

Additionally, EPA has been incorporating GHGRP data into the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, an annual report that estimates U.S. GHG emissions. In 2016, 7,631 facilities reported emitting almost 3 billion MT CO2e GHGs. After power plants, which are responsible for 63% of reported emissions, the oil and gas (O&G) sector is the largest source of GHG emissions. This year there are three major changes to the reporting protocols for oil and gas facilities. Read More »

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Two fundamental EPA climate programs survive EPA cuts, but budget still required to track and mitigate U.S. emissions

The federal administration’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA are devastating. Nearly all climate-related programs are proposed to be cut or greatly reduced, including the popular ENERGY STAR program.

Yet two critical climate EPA programs have maintained partial funding in the current proposal – the Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) and Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).  These programs provide critical reports each year outlining U.S. man-made greenhouse emissions across the country. These informative reports are vital to the energy sector and our regional climate initiatives and must be preserved by this and future federal administrations.

If we are not measuring and tracking our annual output of greenhouse gases, our ability to verifiably reduce our emissions becomes severely impaired. Our country – along with public and industry stakeholders across the work –needs access to this U.S. data each year in order to understand patterns and trends in greenhouse gas emissions.  Transparent reporting of GHG data can help hold emitters publicly accountable and facilitate emission reductions. Read More »

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More than ever, EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Program is Vital to Understanding Methane Emissions

In its 2017 GHGI Inventory, published last week, EPA estimates 2015 methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry were 8.1 million metric tons,which is enough to fulfill the domestic heating needs for over 5 million homes.

In addition to estimating 2015 emissions, EPA has revised their estimates of previous years’ emissions based on new scientific data. The lower estimates compared to the 2016 Inventory is almost entirely due to new accounting methods – the actual decrease in emissions from 2014 to 2015 was only 2%, and this was due to fewer well completions resulting from lower oil and gas prices.

EPA still has room for improvement

Although the estimate of oil and gas emissions went down in this year’s report, it should not be viewed as a final answer since EPA plans to make further improvements including better accounting of super-emitters, which science has shown to be a major source of emissions. These changes likely would counteract the decreases in other emission sources. Read More »

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EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Makes Progress but Misses Forest for Trees

In its draft 2017 GHG inventory, published this week, the EPA estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas industry were lower than their previous estimate in the 2016 inventory.

The vast majority of the decrease comes from methodological changes in how EPA does these estimates and does not represent actual reductions from improved industry practices. We expect to see fluctuation in EPA estimates in future inventories as the agency continues to revise their accounting methods; this inventory should not be viewed as the final answer. But, to see the actual trend in emissions, you should compare 2015 emissions to their updated estimate of 2014 emissions, not the estimate from last year’s inventory. EPA estimates a mere 2% reduction in actual emissions, largely attributable to reduced drilling activity and well completions, which is a result of lower oil and gas prices in 2015. This points to the importance of recently enacted regulations, like the EPA NSPS and BLM rule, to drive the much greater reductions needed to minimize waste and the climate impacts of oil and gas. Read More »

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Latest EPA Greenhouse Emission Numbers Demonstrate Success Of Methane Standards

Click image to expand

Click image to expand

This week sees the release of new figures from the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP), which includes self-reported, large facility-level emissions data for 2015.

The good news is that methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is down slightly, thanks to a combination of stronger safeguards starting to take effect, along with a decline in new drilling projects due to an overall market cooling.

Operators report that methane pollution from onshore oil and gas production is down about 3.8% in 2015 from 2014.  However, overall greenhouse gas emissions from all reporting segments in the oil and gas sector are only down 1.6%.

Sensible methane standards are starting to work

Some in industry will undoubtedly point to the new numbers as evidence that new emission rules are unnecessary. In fact, the figures show that sensible safeguards are responsible for much of the progress. Read More »

Posted in Aliso Canyon, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

EPA Draft Says Oil & Gas Methane Emissions Are 27 Percent Higher than Earlier Estimates

2014EPAInventory2Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are significantly higher than previous official estimates, according to draft revisions of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions inventory released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency. At 9.3 million metric tons, revised estimates of 2013 emissions are 27% percent higher than the previous tally. Over a 20-year timeframe, those emissions have the same climate impact as over 200 coal-fired power plants. The lost gas is worth $1.4 billion at 2015 prices.

The big jump makes it crystal clear that there can be no more excuses for ignoring this huge challenge – not only controlling methane emissions from future sources, as proposed new EPA rules will do, but also controlling emissions from the tens of thousands of leaking facilities already operating now. Existing systems account for all of today’s emissions, and will generate the lion’s share of pollution for many years to come, yet federal rules so far don’t apply to them. Read More »

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