This May has truly been a banner month for transparency of the oil and gas industry. To start, FracFocus, the state-run, national hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure database, released chemical information of nearly 100,000 wells in raw digital format. On the same day, Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) put two key datasets online that will also increase what we know about oil and gas development.
Providing access to quality data is good for the public. The recently released data will help the public track oil and gas complaints and understand more about the quality of wells across the state. This is significant, as researchers can now analyze these data sets to uncover patterns of well issues that can ultimately lead to environmentally protective policy solutions – the Big Data revolution in a nutshell. By making its data easily and fully accessible to the public, Colorado is helping to lead the way when it comes to responsibly managing oil and gas development. Read More
It’s report card time for air quality in the U.S. and, unfortunately, several western states are getting grades of “needs improvement.” That’s the take-away from the American Lung Association’s (ALA) annual “State of the Air” report released today. When it comes to unhealthy ozone pollution (commonly referred to as “smog”), several western states are simply not making the grade.
Once mainly seen in major urban areas, smog pollution is now becoming more and more of an issue in the rural mountain west. This is bad news for local residents as smog can cause serious health impacts like aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, and heart attacks. At times, areas like the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming have experienced smog levels that rival Los Angeles.
One of the main culprits? Air pollution from oil and gas development. Ozone pollution is created by an interaction between two different sorts of air pollutants, oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Oil and gas development provides a significant source of both of these air contaminants across many parts of the West. Read More
Last month, I attended the Vail Global Energy Forum in Colorado. Billed as a “mini-Davos” of energy (studiously ignoring the Aspen crowd a few hours down the highway), that moniker may have felt aspirational when the conference launched three years ago. But, this year it paid off: momentum for frank dialogue and global innovation is building on the slopes of the Vail Valley.
Here’s my take on how the clean air of the mountains cuts through the hot air of energy debates to illuminate practical, actionable ideas.
Three big ideas drove the conference:
- North American energy independence
Mexico, the United States, and Canada could, together, innovate their way to an energy marketplace that weakens dependence on overseas imports, scales up clean energy solutions, and charts a path to low-carbon prosperity. At times, the discussion was framed by the rise of unconventional oil and gas exploration (yes, “fracking”), collaboration around pipelines (yes, “Keystone”), and whether these could disrupt traditional geopolitical frames. Read More
Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Methane, Natural Gas, New York, Utility Business Models
Long familiar in major urban areas, smog – what we experts call “ground-level ozone” pollution – is quickly becoming a serious problem in the rural mountain west, thanks to rapid expansion in oil and gas development. Smog can cause serious health impacts like aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and even premature death. In areas like the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming, smog levels have sometimes rivaled those in Los Angeles.
Now, the Environmental Protection Agency and several western states are putting the pieces in place to fix this problem: EPA through proposed revisions to the health-based ozone standard that will better protect people from pollution, and states like Wyoming and Colorado through strong policies that are helping to reduce the sources of ozone pollution in the oil and gas industry.
In official public comments filed this week with EPA, EDF and a broad coalition of western environmental and conservation groups supported a more protective ozone standard and pointed out the importance of this issue to the intermountain west–where most of the country’s oil and gas production from federal lands occurs.
As the year draws to a close, I’m grateful for three climate breakthroughs from 2014 that give me hope that we can still turn the corner toward a stable climate before it's too late.
And I’m thankful to my colleagues at Environmental Defense Fund who crunched the numbers and determined how we can actually see global greenhouse emissions peak, level off, and begin to decline in the next five years.
EDF can’t do it alone – it will take concerted action by allies and stakeholders around the world – and it won’t be easy. But we can do it.
We know we can do this, because it’s happening already: Read More
By: Tom Murray, Vice President, Corporate Partnerships Program
Last week, financial community leaders took a big step into the intersection of business and policy on the urgent need to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. A group of investors managing more than $300 billion in market assets sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration and the White House, calling for the federal government to regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The letter urged covering new and existing oil and gas sites, including upstream and midstream sources, citing that strong methane policy can reduce business risk and create long-term value for investors and the economy.
Spearheaded by Trillium Asset Management, the cosigners of the letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy included New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, who oversees the $160 billion New York City Pension Funds, and a diverse set of firms and institutional investors. They spelled out in no uncertain terms that they regard methane as a serious climate and business problem – exposing the public and businesses alike to the growing costs of climate change associated with floods, storms, droughts, and other severe weather. Read More