Author Archives: Jon Goldstein

Three reasons Westerners are fighting to defend federal methane waste standards

Westerners are a hardy bunch. They are used to working through adverse conditions and making the best of what the land provides. That includes fighting to defend requirements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that are designed to cut wasted natural gas and maximize revenue for community projects. This is despite repeated attempts from the Trump Administration to undercut these regulations and sell taxpayers short.

Here are three reasons communities and individuals from across the Mountain West are fighting to defend methane waste rules:

  1. Westerners hate waste: $1.8 billion and counting. That’s the value of taxpayer-owned natural gas that has been wasted since 2013 when the BLM began developing a new set of standards to address this problem. The rules finalized last November would help cut that waste and recover millions more in tax and royalty revenues for the western communities faced with impacts from oil and gas development that need it most.

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Posted in BLM Methane, General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

In tackling methane, Exxon signals commitment to maximize opportunity for New Mexico

An announcement last week from one of the country’s largest natural gas producers may have a major positive impact on revenue and clean air in New Mexico. XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil that made a $6 billion investment in acreage in New Mexico’s Permian Basin earlier this year, has now announced a set of commitments to “continually reduce methane emissions” from its production and midstream operations nationwide.

In making the announcement, XTO CEO Sara Ortwein made special note of the methane actions’ impact in the Permian, stating, “In particular, we’re looking forward to applying this approach to our planned expansion in the Permian Basin in New Mexico and West Texas.”

The XTO methane mitigation commitment includes a plan to find and fix methane leaks through inspections using technologies at both existing and new facilities. Further, building on a successful technology pilot project in the nearby Midland Basin, XTO will also focus on emission prevention, moving toward the use of new, less polluting devices for tank batteries and other facilities. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Busy in the Beehive: Utah joins growing list of states tackling oil and gas pollution

Ozone pollution — also known as smog — is a growing problem in Utah, both in the state’s urban areas and in largely rural regions where oil and gas development has been directly tied to unhealthy air.

That’s why new draft rules for oil and gas emissions released yesterday are a breath of fresh air for the Beehive State.

These new standards are designed to reduce the amount of smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution emitted from both new and existing oil and gas sites across Utah. If strengthened and finalized as soon as possible, these rules will help limit Utah’s smog problem and protect Utah families from asthma attacks, respiratory problems and other health issues. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Be prepared: Why the smart oil and gas producers are leaning in despite uncertainty

Be Prepared. It’s not just the Boy Scout motto, it’s also the way most smart businesses try to operate. Better to anticipate future compliance issues today and bake them into your forward planning, than to be caught flatfooted tomorrow.

That is a big part of the reason major multinational oil and gas producers like ExxonMobil and Shell have said they are already following methane pollution rules finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year. Despite EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s best efforts to delay implementation of these rules, the courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of their speedy and complete implementation.

Most recently the DC Circuit last week rejected the latest attempt to undermine methane pollution limits for sources in the oil and gas sector and put those standards into full force and effect. It’s a decision that shows the wisdom of ExxonMobil’s and Shell’s strategy to lean in on regulatory compliance (and highlights the danger for other oil and gas producers that seem to be content dragging their feet and exposing their investors to compliance risk). Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

New study confirms (again): New Mexico’s methane hot spot largely tied to oil and gas pollution

In 2014, NASA scientists published their discovery of a methane “hot spot” hovering over New Mexico’s San Juan Basin. The 2,500-square-mile methane cloud is the largest area of elevated methane concentration ever measured in the U.S., and is so big scientists can spot it from space.

While some have tried to debate the cause of the hot spot, it is more than mere coincidence that the San Juan Basin is one of the most productive natural gas fields in North America, and that oil and gas development is the leading industrial cause of methane emissions nationally.

Manmade methane emissions  are an urgent concern for scientists and policy makers since they are responsible for about a quarter of current global warming, which is why Scientists from NASA and NOAA embarked on a series of studies to try to pinpoint the source of New Mexico’s methane cloud. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

$1.5 billion and counting: real time “waste ticker” reveals value of publicly owned gas that private companies waste

Across the country, oil and gas companies allow massive quantities of natural gas, worth billions of dollars, to leak into the air — and when it happens on federal lands, it’s the American public who loses.  A new interactive tool lets users see, in real time, just how much American-owned gas private companies waste every second.

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Posted in BLM Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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