Nearly every month, for the past six months, a new scientific study has been released that provides new insights in to where methane, a highly potent, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas, could be reduced across the entire natural gas system – the next six months will be no different. But this week, a new joint Purdue-Cornell study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed high emissions from drilling.
Source: Ron Dahlquist, Getty Images
Recently, the White House took a crucial stride to tackle methane pollution and natural gas waste. A key aspect of the strategy tasks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with enacting policy to reduce emissions from the oil and gas industry. Yesterday, EPA formally initiated its process, issuing five white papers focused on the biggest opportunities to cut the industry’s methane emissions. A final decision for action is expected later this year.
The Administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions is an urgently needed development to slow the rate of climate change in our lifetimes. That’s because methane is an incredibly powerful and climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas. Whether you’re a concerned citizen who wants better protections from pollution, an individual compelled to see the U.S. do more to defend the people and places most vulnerable to global climate change, or an energy watchdog who wants to minimize needless waste—know that solutions are within our grasp.
Let’s look at a key piece of the process that the White House galvanized and that EPA has now started to carry forward. EPA’s white papers provide thorough, technical assessment of oil and gas methane emission sources and mitigation technologies, and they provide the factual basis to support policy action. The process requests feedback from the public and a range of expert stakeholders that will help EPA answer: Is now the time to create a real methane policy for oil and gas? I am optimistic the answer will be a resounding “YES.”
Also posted in Air Quality, Methane
Ribbon cutting ceremony for the Fort Carson solar array. U.S. Army photo by Michael J. Pach.
At the U.S. Defense Department, the multiple national security threats created by sea level rise and severe weather command daily attention; climate change has been on its radar for years. The recently published Quadrennial Defense Report (QDR), an assessment of U.S. defense readiness, addresses the growing threat that climate change poses to military capabilities and global operations. Adding to that, the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that extreme weather events will begin occurring more frequently across the globe. As first responders in the wake of extreme weather events, the U.S. military will be called upon to provide emergency support and services for a large portion of them.
The timing of these reports highlights a growing defense challenge but also provides an opportunity for the Defense Department to lead from the front in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Read More
Source: Greenpeace, Tim Aubry
Improving energy resiliency has become critically important throughout the United States – particularly in the Northeast, where devastating events like Superstorm Sandy debilitated our electricity grid. States are searching for ways to create a stronger, smarter, and more flexible energy infrastructure, so that storm damage can be minimized and restoration times shortened. Doing so, however, is no small task. Ensuring that the lights stay on in critical facilities like hospitals, emergency shelters, and water treatment facilities requires innovative thinking, as well as a forward-looking instead of reactive approach to our power sector.
The issue is critical for New Jersey
New Jersey was among the worst hit when Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast eighteen months ago. The state suffered more than $30 billion in damage, most of it along the Jersey shore, while an estimated 2.6 million households across the entire state lost power, many of them for weeks. Five days after Sandy hit, a third of New Jersey’s homes and businesses still did not have electricity. Read More
Source: Jack Newton
It may seem like only yesterday that Texans were asked to conserve water after another scorching summer, but in reality it was four, dry years ago. The drought, which began in 2010 after La Niña altered sea level temperatures in the Pacific, continues to persist in the Lone Star State and promises to surpass the state’s record-setting multi-year drought from the 1950s. Ranchers have been forced to sell off cattle, town water supplies continue to go dry, and power plants struggle to provide a reliable supply of electricity due to water scarcity and long stretches of hot weather. Given these bleak conditions, it should not come as a surprise that 70 percent of Texans believe global warming is happening—and 52 percent said they have personally experienced the effects of global warming.
An all-star team of producers, including James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger, intends to bring the Texas drought home to millions of televisions across the nation in the Years of Living Dangerously series premiering Sunday. Through this series, a host of celebrities, activists and journalists share the stories of those impacted most by our changing climate and what’s being done to save our planet. What is clear right now, in Texas and beyond, is that as climate change intensifies, we must adapt to more extreme weather conditions and make resilient changes that mitigate further stress. Read More
The energy-water nexus is gaining traction with diverse stakeholders around the world and it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot plan for our planet’s future if we do not consider energy and water together.
Most recently, the United Nations celebrated World Water Day, launching a yearlong effort to highlight the global energy-water nexus, the chosen theme for 2014. In honor of World Water Day, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual World Energy Outlook report, the first analysis of its kind to look at the impacts of water scarcity on the global energy sector. This signals a big step in the global understanding of the importance of the energy-water nexus, and reveals important insights on how regions, nations, and industries must cope with less water in a changing climate. Read More
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has embarked on a vital effort — accompanied by extensive outreach to states, power companies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders, including you — to establish the nation’s first limits on carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
EPA was directed to take this critical step for public health and the environment in the President’s Climate Action Plan that was released last summer. Protective and well-designed Carbon Pollution Standards will provide important benefits for all Americans.
Fossil fuel-fired power plants emit 40 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution, as well as significant amounts of mercury, acid gases, and pollutants that contribute to smog and particulates. Read More
By: Victor A. Rojas, Senior Manager, Financial Policy
Source: 401(K) Flickr
The past two decades have seen a tremendous growth in our understanding of the climate change imperative and in the enormity of the challenge that confronts us. It has become clear that meeting climate change mitigation objectives will require the aggressive deployment of clean energy technologies, substantial amounts of capital, and creative methods of engaging that capital around these activities.
Transitioning to a low-carbon economy costs money (and lots of it). In fact, the International Energy Agency has estimated that $10.5 trillion will be required between 2010 and 2030 to fund this transition worldwide. Given the continuing challenges confronting global economies, the bulk of the capital needed to transition to this clean energy future will, by necessity, be private capital. As a result, creative financing solutions are essential to engaging and unleashing private, institutional capital, and accelerating the flow of those funds toward clean energy projects.
But the question of how to most effectively unlock the enormous amounts of capital necessary to pay for our transition to a low-carbon economy still remains. Read More
Source: UN Water
The theme of this year’s World Water Day on March 22nd is the “energy-water nexus,” and the timing couldn't be better. According to the United Nations (who first established World Water Day in 1993):
- 780 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.
- 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity.
- 90 percent of the power generation in the world comes from water-intensive fossil fuels.
- As countries progress and develop, there is an increased risk of conflict between power generators, other water users, and environmental concerns.
- By 2035, global water withdrawals for energy are predicted to increase by 20 percent, and water consumption for energy is expected to increase by 85 percent.
For the past year, I’ve been trying to bring awareness to the connection between energy and water in Texas, but this issue is much bigger than a single state. Energy and water are both basic components of life and economic progress, and they are also inextricably linked. Energy is used to secure, deliver, treat, and distribute water, while water is used (and often degraded) to develop, process and deliver energy. Read More
The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its draft inventory of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Reporting 2012 data, the inventory estimates methane emissions coming from natural gas and petroleum systems at around 7.6 million metric tons – that’s enough natural gas to provide energy to over 7 million homes annually. This new estimate when compared with last year’s report, which estimates emissions for the 2011 calendar year, shows overall methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems are 1.2 percent lower. Although this seems like good news, the new data is no cause for complacency, as it’s important to understand the cause of the changes which requires closer examination.
The draft inventory introduces some new methodological changes that reduce estimated emissions from previous years. The primary change was driven by the way EPA estimates emissions from gas well completions and workovers, the steps that follow hydraulic fracturing and clear liquids and sand from the well before production begins. Read More