As rapid changes in energy technology – both in renewable and fossil fuel sources – transforms the way we power our lives, we have a chance to leave our children a prosperous world and reduce the effects of climate change. But, to scale fast enough, we need smart policies – at all levels of government.
National policies are essential to raise our level of ambition, put a price on carbon, limit emissions from key sectors, and spur innovation. For example, the Clean Power Plan would accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies. But, many states are taking strides to promote innovative technologies and paving the way for national policy. Read More
When the White House confirmed plans to limit methane pollution from the oil and gas sector — not just from new or heavily modified facilities, but thousands of existing wells, pipelines and other facilities that are currently emitting at least 9.3 million metric tons of the invisible heat-trapping gas each year — industry responded with the usual complaints about back-breaking costs.
Unlike recent years, those objections come with a twist: The widespread (and very real) challenges in an oil and gas sector struggling with a global supply glut and sharply lower prices, both enabled by the same unconventional production technologies that fueled the boom in the first place. We simply shouldn’t impose new regulations in a down market, the industry says.
To be clear: There’s no disputing these are tough times for oil and gas. Hard working Americans have lost good jobs by the tens of thousands. Communities are suffering. It’s a cycle familiar to anyone who’s been around the industry, even if that doesn't make it any easier on people living through it now. Read More
What do Farmington, NM, Oklahoma City, Lakewood, CO and Dickinson, ND have in common? These cities are in the heart of oil and gas country, and – most importantly – were locations in which the BLM heard overwhelming support for strong efforts to reduce wasteful venting, flaring and leaks from the oil and gas industry at a series of public meetings in recent weeks.
Methane is a potent climate pollutant and the main constituent of natural gas, so when oil and gas companies on public land allow methane to be leaked, burned or vented to the atmosphere, it not only impacts air quality and our climate, it also represents an economic loss to taxpayers.
Individually at each hearing, and collectively across all four, voices supporting strong BLM methane waste and pollution rules far outweighed the opposition. In the final tally, supportive statements outnumbered negative ones by more than three-to-one. This fits with recent polling that found that a bipartisan majority (fully 80 percent) of Westerners support commonsense rules to cut oil and gas waste on BLM managed lands. Read More
Most Americans think their electricity comes from large power companies. In North Carolina, my home state, that might mean Duke Energy or Dominion Resources. But did you know that 42 million people in 47 states get their electricity from electric cooperatives? These member-owned electric utilities were first formed back in the 1930s to provide electricity to people living in rural areas and small towns.
Today, there are more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Their mission remains the same today as it did back then: deliver safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to rural families and businesses.
In rural areas, housing and commercial buildings tend to be older and less energy efficient, increasing energy bills. Often energy efficiency improvements, such as insulation, are overlooked when residents are faced with hard decisions about where to spend money.
Plus, qualifying for a loan to finance efficiency improvements is more difficult in economically distressed rural areas. Addressing this reality poses a significant challenge for electric cooperatives, which serve 93 percent of the nation’s persistent-poverty counties, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Read More
Yesterday, British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark announced that the province will align with Alberta’s groundbreaking new policies on reducing emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane from the oil and gas industry. Alberta had announced in November a goal of cutting oil and gas methane emissions 45 percent by 2025, and BC’s new commitment is just one more sign that there is growing momentum in Canada to tackle this powerful climate pollutant.
In a surprise move this month, the U.S. Supreme Court “stayed” (or put a hold on) the Clean Power Plan, which sets common-sense carbon pollution standards for power plants, our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. States can craft their own plans to meet the standards, including the deployment of renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and fuel switching. The Clean Power Plan also provides incentives for increasing energy efficiency in low-income areas.
About 20 states are moving ahead and continuing work on plans to curb carbon pollution and comply with the plan. Other states – including my home state of North Carolina – are challenging the plan’s implementation. This action is unfortunate because North Carolina will benefit from the plan on many levels, and studies show that compliance is not going to be a problem for North Carolina, as opponents claim. Read More