Author Archives: Mark Brownstein

Methane Emissions from Oil & Gas are on the Rise, Confirm Latest EPA Data

rp_methane_378x235_4.jpgMethane emissions from the US oil and gas sector increased, according to new data finalized today by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, the figures come as no surprise, based on preliminary numbers and plenty of other observations, both scientific and anecdotal.  No surprise unless you’re part of the industry’s public relations machine, which keeps insisting that up means down.

What is legitimately surprising is that this problem continues in spite of the many simple, proven and cost effective ways there are to fix it. And therein lies opportunity. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged , , | Read 1 Response

Why The Oil And Gas Charm Offensive Fails To Win Public Hearts

playground and wellOil and gas companies spend a lot of time and money reminding us just how much good they’re doing in the world. But according to a new Gallup poll released yesterday, when it comes to fracking, the American people aren’t convinced.

Production is booming and prices are the lowest in decades, due in large measure to fracking and a suite of other technological innovations that have led a revolution in production from ‘unconventional’ sources of oil and gas in the U.S. In particular, the rapid increase in natural gas production is providing a boon to consumers and helping to reduce our dependence on coal, which in turn has helped reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution.

And yet the new poll shows that just 60 percent of Americans surveyed are either opposed or undecided about fracking.

Why? Read More »

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The UT Methane Studies: Critique and Response

452548129Science is a process of asserting a hypothesis, collecting data, presenting results, and then having those data and results tested by other researchers. Peer-reviewed journals routinely allow for comments on papers and responses by the authors precisely in order to ensure that knowledge evolves and the dialogue is part of the public scientific record.

People paying close attention to the growing body of research on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry may note of a recent exchange in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) between Mr. Touché Howard and a team of scientists lead by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas. The studies by Allen et al. are among of a group of 16 studies on methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain being coordinated by Environmental Defense Fund. Read More »

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

Oil and Gas Lobby Says Up Means Down

Marcellus_Shale_Gas_Drilling_Tower_1_cropThe Environmental Protection Agency just released the draft of its yearly greenhouse gas emissions inventory. It shows in no uncertain terms that methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector are going in the wrong direction: Up.

Emissions from this overall sector are up two percent in 2013, which includes emissions from oil (petroleum) systems which were at their highest levels ever since estimates began in 1990 – and up 68 percent since 2005. Emissions from natural gas processing, where impurities are removed to produce pipeline quality gas, are up 38 percent since 2005. From transmission and storage: Up 11 percent.

Yet the industry’s public relations machine says emissions are falling. So what’s the disconnect? Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas| Read 1 Response

Fly-by: What the Latest Aerial Study of Methane Emissions Tells Us

lockheed1In the summer of 2013, researchers aboard a four-engine P-3 Orion aircraft – a variant of the plane used by the U.S. Navy to track submarines – flew over three of the nation’s biggest shale gas regions, taking measurements that would allow them to estimate the amount of methane leaking from the production fields below.

The team from University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory published their findings this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, adding new depth to our understanding of methane leaks, but also underscoring important questions.

Comparing their readings to production figures for the region, they estimated a total leak rate of 0.18 to 2.8 percent, which is at the low end of the range of findings in other research. For some, this may be cause for celebration.

But don’t pop the champagne corks just yet. Read More »

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

Dope Deal: Wall Street Journal Falls for Methane “Facts” Cooked by Industry

Source: flickr.com/photos/earthworksWhen credibility is your stock in trade, it’s important to have your facts straight. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal blew it.

In an unsigned opinion piece dubbed “Meth Heads in the White House,” the paper dismisses plans expected to be announced by the Obama administration in the next few weeks that would start to tackle the huge amount of methane leaking from America’s oil & gas production facilities.

The question is a significant one, because – as the article notes in passing – methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas (in point of fact, packing more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame). According to EPA data, oil & gas operations emit roughly 8 million metric tons of unburned methane annually, enough gas to heat nearly 6 million homes. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged , , | Comments are closed
  • Associate Vice President & Chief Counsel of the US Energy and Climate Program
    Mark Brownstein is the Associate Vice President & Chief Counsel of the US Energy and Climate Program at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and he leads EDF’s natural gas efforts.

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