Author Archives: Mark Brownstein

Whether you love or hate natural gas, stopping methane emissions now is crucial

The International Energy Agency’s new 2017 World Energy Outlook contains the agency’s strongest language yet about the urgent need to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and the huge opportunities that exist to do so.

Some have taken issue with IEA projections on the overall role of natural gas, suggesting they are beyond what is environmentally sustainable. Others think IEA is underestimating growth potential. Whatever you believe the trajectory for gas is — or should be — the benefits of reducing methane emissions are both enormous and irrefutable.

The good news: IEA estimates the industry can reduce their worldwide emissions by 75 percent – and that up to two thirds of those reductions can be realized at zero net cost. “These emissions are not the only anthropogenic emissions of methane,” says the report, “but they are likely to be among the cheapest to abate." Read More »

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

Large gas buyers set environmental performance indicators for how gas is produced

Co-authored by Beth Trask

Utilities who deliver gas to homes and businesses, and/or generate electricity from gas, are important stakeholders along the natural gas supply chain. They are the face of natural gas to their customers; and, thus, they need to know that the gas they sell is being produced in the most responsible and transparent way possible—one in which the impacts to the air, water, and communities are minimized.

This week, some of the nation’s largest gas buyers joined forces in a new voluntary coalition, the Natural Gas Supply Collaborative (NGSC). Together, they released a set of 14 performance indicators—spanning air, water, chemicals and community/worker safety—that they’d like to see natural gas companies report on publically on an annual basis.

Developed in consultation with environmental NGOs, including EDF, and with input from a handful of gas company representatives, these indicators are positive step toward a more transparent gas supply chain in which buyers and sellers can have informed dialogue about how gas is being produced.

We encourage more large gas buyers to join the coalition and get involved in this conversation.

Customers are watching Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Questions in EPA Inspector General letter are narrow, have been asked and answered before

The questions the EPA Inspector General appears to be interested in are ones that have been widely and publicly addressed over the past three years, including in peer-reviewed scientific literature. For reference, see our blog posts from here (December 9, 2016), here (June 9, 2016), and here (March 9, 2015).

The most important thing to understand is that there is an extensive body of scientific research, including substantial research produced just over the last four years documenting the significant problem of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, of which the two studies cited in the IG letter are just a small part. Together, this body of research presents a clear and compelling picture of the magnitude of the methane emissions problem in the U.S. and the urgent need for action to address it.

For example, EDF has helped coordinate 16 different research projects looking at emissions from on the ground and in the air. So far 33 peer-reviewed papers have been published on those projects. More than 35 different research institutions and over 120 individual co-authors have been involved in the work published to date. Read More »

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

Fayetteville flyover study sheds valuable light on the role of regional episodic emissions

Five years ago, EDF initiated a series of 16 peer-reviewed scientific studies involving over 100 research and industry experts in order to better quantify the methane emissions coming from the U.S. oil and gas industry and to better understand where and how to focus efforts to reduce them. Since then, over 30 peer-reviewed papers have been published across a number of scientific journals, with the data indicating that emissions from the industry are generally higher than official U.S. estimates.

However, quantifying methane wasn’t our only goal. We also sought to catalyze a community of researchers — both inside and outside academia — to continue this work, because there is still much more we can learn about how to effectively reduce this powerful climate pollutant.  So I was pleased to see the publication of a new independent study that evaluates methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure in the Fayetteville Shale region of Arkansas. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

With methane plan, New York doubles down on climate protections

New York is now the latest in a growing number of states cracking down on methane – the powerful greenhouse gas responsible for about a quarter of global warming.

The effort comes on the heels of a successful senate vote to uphold methane limits for oil and gas companies operating on our nation’s public and tribal lands, and sends yet another strong message to the oil and gas industry that Americans want and expect commonsense standards that  protect our health and natural resources.

Governor Cuomo’s new plan takes a comprehensive approach to tackling methane from the state’s biggest emission sources: landfills, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. Collectively, the twenty-five reduction strategies outlined will allow New York to significantly curb methane pollution and allow the state to deliver on its 2030 climate target. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas, New York| Comments are closed

Smart money: Top investors press oil & gas companies to tackle methane emissions

A global group of 30 leading institutional investors coordinated by the PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) has announced a new initiative that will encourage oil and gas companies, including gas utilities, around the world to initiate or improve efforts to measure, report, and reduce methane emissions.

The move is the latest evidence that investors are concerned with the financial, reputational and environmental risks associated with unmonitored and unchecked methane venting and leakage.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. It’s responsible for about 25% of the warming our planet is experiencing today. Globally, the oil and gas industry is among the largest man-made sources of methane.

Methane is also the main ingredient in the natural gas, the product that major global producers have marketed to investors as central to their growth in the years ahead. Companies tout gas as a clean, low-carbon fuel, ignoring the vast amounts of unburned methane escaping from their systems each year, or the lack of transparency with regard to monitoring and reduction strategies.

The owners and asset managers involved in the PRI’s methane initiative oversee more than $3 trillion. They are global in scope, representing a dozen countries across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. PRI plans to engage 29 companies on four continents, from across the natural gas supply chain (the names aren’t being made public). They will be urging greater transparency and stronger, more concrete actions, including setting methane targets and participating responsibly on methane policy. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Read 1 Response
  • About this Blog

    EDF Energy Exchange - Accelerating the clean energy revolution

    EDF's energy experts discuss how to accelerate the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy economy.

    Follow EDFEnergyEX

  • Get new posts by email

    We'll deliver new blog posts to your inbox.

    Subscribe via RSS

  • Categories

  • Authors