Author Archives: Mark Brownstein

Senate GOP Letter on EPA Methane Rule Misstates the Facts

A group of Republican Senators sent a letter to the White House yesterday questioning the administration's plans to begin regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. While EDF welcomes their engagement, the Senators' characterization of the problem, their representation of emissions data, and their reference to research funded by EDF are flatly incorrect.

The facts are these: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas—packing 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. That means it's a serious challenge, but also a huge opportunity to put the brakes on climate change quickly and cost-effectively. EPA’s latest inventory released in April estimates that in 2013, the oil and gas industry released more than 7.3 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere from their operations—a three percent increase over 2012—making it the largest industrial source of methane pollution. That’s enough to meet the needs of 5 million households, and packs the same short-term climate punch as the CO2 emissions from more than 160 coal-fired power plants. Read More »

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

EPA Looks at Fracking Risks to Water: No Data, No Problem?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited draft report on impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing on drinking water last week, completing the most extensive scientific review of published data to date. At nearly 1,000 pages, it’s a substantial report. But it’s nowhere near a comprehensive evaluation – or even enumeration – of the risks that oil and gas development poses to both surface and ground water.

The biggest issues aren’t what’s in the document, but what isn’t. For all its heft, the biggest lesson in the report is just how little we actually know about these critical risks.

Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas| Tagged , | Read 2 Responses

Reducing Methane Emissions: Voluntary Efforts Alone Won’t Get the Job Done

7992041702_8a1bbdcd1e_zIn January, the White House announced the ambitious goal of reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40 to 45 percent over the next ten years. It was a landmark moment and a step toward making a great impact on greenhouse emissions and their effects on the climate by reducing a potent pollutant. Now, we await the rules EPA will propose later this summer to begin making that goal a reality.

In the coming days the EPA is expected to preview one piece of the plan the administration announced in January – Enhanced Natural Gas STAR, a program to enable companies to commit to voluntary actions to reduce emissions, and document progress toward achieving those commitments. The program is an important opportunity to ensure transparent and rigorous reporting of voluntary efforts to reduce emissions, but it is not a substitute for strong regulations and it is not the only step the administration has committed to taking. In its package of proposed rules that the administration has committed to release later this summer, the federal government will set, for the first time, methane emission limits from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry, and is being called upon to implement rules to address leaks from existing sources as well. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

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 »

Posted in Natural Gas| Read 3 Responses

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 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
  • Vice President, Climate and Energy Program
    Mark Brownstein is a Vice President in the Climate and Energy Program at Environmental Defense Fund.

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    EDF Energy Exchange - Accelerating the clean energy revolution

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