Author Archives: Tim O'Connor

Under the Wire: EDF Welcomes SoCalGas Leak Maps

pasadenamapA great thing happened today for the environment and people of California. On the very day we released new maps measuring methane leaking from natural gas lines under Los Angeles-area streets, the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) announced they would begin publishing their own maps showing the locations of leaks they find on their system.

It is a positive move that brings the company a big step closer to complying with the California law requiring them to publish not only the whereabouts of known leaks, but also the amount of methane escaping (which their newly announced maps do not). The public has a right to know where and how much harmful air pollution is being emitted by SoCalGas and any other company in California.
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Posted in Air Quality, California, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged , | Leave a comment

While Most Wait for the Federal Government, California May Have Just Broken the Methane Puzzle Wide Open

Oil and gas geothermal fields in California, 2001

Methane from oil and gas operations is a serious climate risk, but also a ripe opportunity to make a huge dent in overall greenhouse emissions. This past week, one state took a big, and long-awaited, step to address the challenge.

While we wait for the Environmental Protection Agency to release draft federal methane rules this summer, the California Air Resources Board has just released a draft of the most comprehensive and forward thinking regulations to cut methane pollution from oil and gas yet.

While the April 22 proposal still needs work – such as in the area of how often equipment needs to be inspected and how best to reduce venting associated with well unloading and other activities – it’s a big and fundamental step in the right direction. It has the potential to deliver what the rest of the country needs – comprehensive equipment standards on new and existing sources for both oil and gas operations, and enhanced leak detection and repair requirements across the methane value chain.

But the benefits will be felt closest to home first. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Read 2 Responses

Seeing Green: Emission Reducing Fuel Policies Help Lower Gas Prices

This commentary originally appeared on EDF's California Dream 2.0 blog.

By: Tim O'Connor and Shira Silver

Californians struggling with high gas prices should feel optimistic about the future.  A new memo by economists from EDF and Chuck Mason, a prominent economist at the University of Wyoming, demonstrates that policies established to reduce emissions and help the state reach its climate change goals also help to arm consumers at the pump.

The Low Carbon Fuel Standardcap and trade, and other complementary policies such as Governor Brown’s Zero Emission Vehicle program and national Renewable Portfolio Standards seek to integrate lower or zero-carbon fuels into the energy market in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

As our memo explains, in California these efforts also help to increase the market share for alternative, lower-carbon fuels. Between now and 2020, alternatives may grow to occupy between 15 and 24 percent of the market, creating new jobs and addressing the large market share that oil companies have in California.

Currently six oil companies control 94 percent of the fuels market in California. Through a set of mergers and other factors they have developed a strong lock on fuel in the state, and more specifically on consumers’ pocketbooks at the pump.

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Posted in California, Electric Vehicles| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

AB 32’s Scoping Plan is a Tale of Two Energy Futures

This commentary originally appeared on EDF's California Dream 2.0 blog

Tim O'Connor

For a window into two vastly different visions of our state’s future, take a look at the comments filed last week as part of the AB 32 Scoping Plan update process. The 2008 Scoping Plan lays out the approach that California will take to achieve its goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and this is the first 5 year update.

EDF’s comments reflect what most Californians have already asked for – a laser focus on expanding emission reductions and providing ample clean energy opportunities for businesses throughout the state.

This includes:

 

  • Increasing emission reductions from vehicles, goods movement and the agriculture sector;
  • Developing diversified low-carbon fuels that yield cost reductions;
  • Integrating clean energy and energy efficiency through programs like “time-of-use” pricing and On-Bill Repayment;
  • And, extending the cap-and-trade program and low carbon fuel standard beyond 2020;

All of the opportunities outlined by EDF aim to fulfill the Scoping Plan’s mission: achieving the maximum technologically feasible reductions in greenhouse gas pollution in a cost-effective way.

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Posted in California, Energy Efficiency, On-bill repayment| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

First Of Its Kind Non-Profit Network On Carbon Capture And Sequestration Launched

Last week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with eight other environmental advocacy organizations, announced the launch of the Environmental NGO Network on Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) – a collaborative effort to ensure domestic and international policies and regulations allowing for CCS ensure that the highest standards are met for public safety, atmospheric and environmental protection.

Right now, CCS projects are being developed by some of the world’s biggest energy and oil companies, and international negotiations are looking to provide carbon credit opportunities for use in carbon control regulations.  The CCS Network will serve as a communications medium between EDF and other member environmental organizations as we work towards a responsible CCS industry, enabling the world’s top experts from the NGO community to contribute and share ideas. 

New CCS projects represent an opportunity for long term carbon reductions, though they must adhere to best operational and environmental standards to enable long-term success.  The CCS Network will work together to find common ground on CCS-related efforts and work toward ensuring responsible development.

For more information about the network, visit: www.engonetwork.org.

Posted in General| Tagged | Comments are closed

EDF Releases Ten Recommendations For The First Offshore CCS Projects In Texas

On December 2nd, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) completed a 2-year long research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to support a University of Texas (UT) project to find suitable sites to sequester carbon dioxide below ground in Texas’ offshore state waters.   The research report, which directs site selection, anticipates environmental risks and provides recommendations during project siting and development, was generated to safely and efficiently guide offshore carbon capture and geologic sequestration (CCS) projects to minimize risks to human health and the environment.

Source: Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Region

Given that a CCS project off the coast of Texas would likely be the first of its kind in U.S. history, the report offers valuable insight to help guide a future demonstration project which may open the door to a potentially huge CCS industry.  In 2010, the U.S. DOE evaluated the gulf coast region and found vast potential for storing CO2 in deep saline formations (underground salt-water deposits) as well as in depleted oil and gas fields throughout the area.  Similarly, in 2006 the University of Texas evaluated geologic formations across the coastal region, finding exceptional geology for engaging in CCS projects.

EDF’s recommendations, included in Section VII or the report, provide guidelines for use in site selection and development for offshore CCS projects in Texas, including:

  • Following threshold standards to avoid negative effects on human health or coastal natural resources;
  • Taking an overall precautionary approach wherever possible;
  • Performing site-specific evaluations within the full zone of potential impact, even if not required by law;
  • Choosing sites with the least potential for leakage;
  • Applying recently adopted U.S. EPA rules for groundwater protection even if not required by law;
  • Locating sites as far from shorelines and existing aquifers as feasible;
  • Reusing or collocating equipment new project footprints;
  • Selecting back-up sites where possible;
  • Developing site specific monitoring, verification, accounting, and reporting plan; and
  • Evaluating feasible mitigation measure prior to site operation.

To complete the research project, EDF energy and oceans experts performed an in-depth look into the current state of the Texas gulf coast environment and extrapolated lessons learned from operations analogous to CCS to analyze the potential for impact and recommend ways to mitigate overall risk.   EDF used examples and best management practices developed for offshore oil drilling, onshore enhanced oil recovery, acid gas and wastewater injection, and offshore CCS projects in other countries to make its suite of recommendations.

Posted in Texas| Tagged | Comments are closed
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