Energy Exchange

What ALA’s most recent State of the Air Report reveals about oil and gas air pollution in the Western U.S.

The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air Report today, revealing what many communities have known for quite some time: air pollution from oil and gas operations is a growing concern.

Air pollution has often been a challenge for highly-populated areas of the United States, but it is an issue rural communities have largely been able to avoid. However, that seems to be changing according to the ALA’s findings.  La Plata County in Colorado and Duchesne and Uintah counties in Utah all received an “F” grade due to high levels of ozone.  None has a population over 60,000 people, but each is home to significant amounts of oil and gas production.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Colorado, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Wyoming / Comments are closed

Fighting for the planet, one methane comment at a time

When a kid knocks at your door, you might expect a Girl Scout selling cookies or a Boy Scout selling popcorn. But recently, it was my 13 year-old neighbor, Pete Bates, asking me to sign a letter to fight methane pollution. I thought this was pretty neat, because while my day-to-day job is focused on reducing this pollution, it’s a pretty niche topic. That’s why I was so pleased to see Pete was interested in this topic and thought it was something worth getting engaged about.

These days, with the Trump administration’s constant attacks on our climate and clean air, it can be easy to be pessimistic. Hearing about Pete’s effort to make a difference gives me hope. I’m sure Pete and his generation will make the future bright, because they’ve already started.

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

New regional emissions study offers insights into New Mexico’s oil and gas emissions problems

A new study from the Western Regional Air Partnership — a collaboration of state, tribal, and local air agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, federal land managers, and other local stakeholders — finds methane emissions from New Mexico’s oil and gas facilities are higher than previous estimates and notes regulations could help address the problem.

The research draws on data reported by states, tribes, and the oil and gas industry, and finds oil and gas companies emitted 816,980 tons of methane and smog-forming pollution in 2014 – significantly more than what the industry reported to the EPA.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed

North Dakota has a flaring problem that even industry recognizes

Last year, oil and gas companies in North Dakota flared over $220 million worth of natural gas. That’s enough to heat over 1 million homes and meet North Dakotans’ heating needs seven times over.* It was also enough to convince the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC), an industry coalition, to reconvene its flaring task force.

The irony is that North Dakota already has flaring reduction targets on the books. They were created in 2014, at a time when the state was wasting one-third of the natural gas it produced. These rules set a series of gas capture targets, which were proposed by NDPC, and gave the state the authority to curtail the oil production of operators that failed to meet those targets. But since the rule’s implementation, North Dakota operators have allowed nearly $850 million of natural gas to go up in smoke.*

So why aren’t North Dakota’s flaring restrictions consistently working?

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Federal rollbacks + huge new oil and gas project = trouble for Wyoming

This blog was co-authored by Jon Goldstein and Sara Brodnax

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management collected comments from citizens and groups concerned about the impacts of a proposed 5,000-well oil and gas project in eastern Wyoming.

The situation has a troubling irony, because as BLM reviews the project’s environmental risks, it is simultaneously working to roll back its own commonsense standards to stop oil and gas companies from venting, flaring, and leaking away pollution and valuable natural gas.

It’s the same story for the greater sage-grouse, which without strong mitigation measures will likely abandon critical breeding sites in the area set to be impacted by the planned oil and gas project. Here, too, BLM has signaled several attempts to unravel the collaborative, decades-forged plans to protect the imperiled bird.

The combination of weakening policies while expanding development could have disastrous consequences for Wyoming and other western states if methane pollution goes unchecked and the greater sage-grouse continues to decline.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, Wyoming / Comments are closed

Key takeaways from the court decision blocking suspension of BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule

By Rosalie Winn and  Samantha Caravello, EDF Legal Fellow

A U.S. District Court judge has halted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s latest effort to suspend the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Rule.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction last night in response to legal challenges brought by the states of California and New Mexico, and by EDF and a coalition of conservation and tribal citizen groups.

The court decision ensures that the Waste Prevention Protections are in full force and effect, delivering important benefits to tribes, ranchers and families across the West. It also demonstrates that facts matter, and that public input matters — and, as the court recognized, Zinke ignored both when he suspended the Waste Prevention Rule.

Here are some key takeaways from the court’s decision.

Zinke’s suspension would have resulted in immediate and irreparable harms Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed