Energy Exchange

Pollution monitors should be standard in LA’s oilfields

There are several reasons to be optimistic about environmental progress in Los Angeles. The city is making massive investments in electric vehicles, making clean energy more accessible to everyday people, and cutting pollution from the ports and freeways to name a few. But with over 60,000 Angelinos living less than 500 feet from an active oil well – LA could do more to protect our health and our environment.

Oil and gas wells emit toxic chemicals that can increase our risk of developing asthma, cancer and other health problems. Recent studies by the California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District have uncovered elevated levels of benzene, a cancer causing agent, and other toxic compounds coming from oil and gas equipment in Huntington Beach and Signal Hill. In Santa Fe Springs  a rupture at an oil site coated numerous homes with oil and generated noxious odors.  Then there are the communities in Culver City, South LA, Compton and elsewhere living mere feet from drill sites who experience odors and health ailments on a regular basis. Most notoriously, the Porter Ranch community next to the Aliso Canyon gas field still reports respiratory problems and other symptoms stemming from a major gas leak in 2015.

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Also posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

National clean air protections are in jeopardy of going away, but Pennsylvania can be protected

Source: Bob Donaldson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced plans to control harmful smog-forming emissions from the state’s existing oil and gas sites. There’s just one problem: their plan is based on national clean air guidelines that are now under attack by President Trump’s EPA. However, by changing this plan, and creating strong state-led policies, Governor Wolf can ensure Pennsylvania remains in control of its own clean air protections.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

3 ways Dynegy is trying to make Illinoisans bail out its aging coal fleet

Dynegy, a Texas-based energy giant, is pulling out all the stops in Illinois to keep uneconomic and dirty coal plants running.

Dynegy is Illinois’ largest producer of coal-fired electricity, but the falling prices of other power sources, including renewable energy, have hurt the company’s bottom line. Last year, Dynegy tried to ramrod customer-funded coal subsidies into the Future Energy Jobs Act at the last minute, but Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our allies successfully blocked that effort.

But, like the Hydra of Greek mythology, when we cut off one head, more appeared. The legendary Dynegy hasn’t given up on its quest for a coal bailout, and the company is tapping nearly every avenue of government along the way. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Illinois / Read 2 Responses

NASA helped locate over 300 methane hot spots across California

Last week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CEC) released interim results from a NASA study that offers the most clear-eyed assessment yet of California’s largest individual sources of methane pollution.

Methane – a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about a quarter of global warming – is emitted from several different sources, including refineries, landfills, dairy farms, and oil and gas facilities. This new study identifies 329 of the largest pollution sources and offers insights to policy makers about opportunities for reducing these emissions.

Here are four key takeaways from the latest research.

California must focus on super emitters to cut pollution

Previous studies in other regions have shown that when it comes to methane, a small set of high-emitting sites, known as “super emitters” tend to be responsible for a significant amount of total emissions. The new CARB study suggests the same is likely occurring in California (measurements of actual amounts of the methane will be released in the second phase of the project next year).  Many times these super emitters occur randomly, such as when a major piece of equipment breaks and releases a large amount of pollution. Other times, as this study shows, these sites can be landfills, dairy farms, and refineries that simply release a lot of pollution.  Read More »

Also posted in California, 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 »

Also posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Massive Pennsylvania gas leak proves industry requires more oversight

Yet again, another energy company is serving up tangible proof that some in the industry fail to take steps to operate responsibly and protect public health from oil and gas pollution.

According to a September 24 Associated Press article, a malfunction at a natural gas compressor station in Northeastern Pennsylvania resulted in a massive gas leak that — in just a few hours — produced more air pollution than most facilities emit in an entire year.

Most Pennsylvanians never know about these types of malfunctions. In fact, if it were not for the AP story, you might not have heard about this leak in part because DTE Energy – the out-of-state energy company that owns the facility – failed to immediately notify the Susquehanna County Emergency Management Agency. Instead, they waited over a week to report the problem to the county and downplayed the magnitude of the episode, referring to it as a merely a “minor” leak. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed