Selected category: Air Quality

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

How community air monitoring projects provide a data-driven model for the future

Nicoyia Hurt, EDF Oil and Gas Health Policy Intern, contributed to this post

Downtown Los Angeles with misty morning smog.

This month marks the one year anniversary since the residents in Imperial County California did something pretty amazing.

After experiencing some of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the state, the community got together to launch the IVAN air monitoring project– a community website that provides real time air quality data collected from 40 different pollution monitors across the county.

Frances Nicklen said the air monitors make a huge difference to her community.

"The placement of these 40 air monitors throughout the Imperial Valley will be very beneficial so that the people can make educated decisions to protect their health and that of their families," she told the Comite Civico Del Valle. “We only have one valley, and we have to live here, and we need to make it a better place for all of our residents.” Read More »

Also posted in California, Climate, Data Access, Energy Innovation, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Busy in the Beehive: Utah joins growing list of states tackling oil and gas pollution

Ozone pollution — also known as smog — is a growing problem in Utah, both in the state’s urban areas and in largely rural regions where oil and gas development has been directly tied to unhealthy air.

That’s why new draft rules for oil and gas emissions released yesterday are a breath of fresh air for the Beehive State.

These new standards are designed to reduce the amount of smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution emitted from both new and existing oil and gas sites across Utah. If strengthened and finalized as soon as possible, these rules will help limit Utah’s smog problem and protect Utah families from asthma attacks, respiratory problems and other health issues. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Californians benefit from continuous pollution monitoring at oil and gas sites

Sophia Brewer, Oil and Gas Intern, contributed to this article.

Since the 1892 discovery of oil in California, the oil and gas industry has been a major economic engine and energy supplier for the state. Although this oil and gas production may be broken down into dollars and barrels, it doesn’t tell the story of the potential impact of drilling activity on the lives of the people in Los Angeles and the Central Valley who live right next to these operations.

While some production sites may be meeting stringent operational and environmental standards, others may not –there simply isn’t data to discern which is which – and that is where monitoring comes in. Read More »

Also posted in California, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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