When countries meet in Paris for the United Nations climate talks later this year, their representatives will come armed with the best data, research and ideas on how to reach a climate agreement and avert catastrophic climate change.
But a new report from Rhodium Group, commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund, shows that countries have so far been leaving a huge opportunity on the table: methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
Cutting methane can have a dramatic impact
The report shows that the global oil and natural gas industry is leaking a huge amount of climate-harming methane every year. When released into the atmosphere, this methane has the same climate impact as does 40 percent of carbon dioxide from the world’s coal combustion. Read More
Methane emissions from the US oil and gas sector increased, according to new data finalized today by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, the figures come as no surprise, based on preliminary numbers and plenty of other observations, both scientific and anecdotal. No surprise unless you’re part of the industry’s public relations machine, which keeps insisting that up means down.
What is legitimately surprising is that this problem continues in spite of the many simple, proven and cost effective ways there are to fix it. And therein lies opportunity. Read More
On April 8, InsideClimate News published an in-depth story about Environmental Defense Fund’s groundbreaking work to measure emissions of methane.
While we don’t agree with everything in the story, we’re glad it recognizes the scope, ambition and scientific integrity of our work. As InsideClimate News concludes:
Environmental groups almost never take on scientific research efforts. Investigations on this scale are normally organized by the federal government or the National Academy of Sciences. Coordinating what’s become an $18 million series of 16 studies by more than 100 researchers has turned EDF into a heavyweight on the science of methane pollution.
The project’s findings will influence government policy concerning the $292 billion-a-year U.S. oil and gas extraction industry and the regulation of fracking…[And] environmentalists acknowledge that EDF has managed to pass some of the nation’s strictest regulations where others have failed.
InsideClimate News interviewed 40 scientists, activists, academics and industry representatives – more than half of whom aren’t involved with the EDF research. This group included 15 methane researchers. None of them said they thought the industry was manipulating EDF’s research results or pressuring scientists to change their data.
But the story also gets some important things wrong, on issues the reporters never asked us about.
We’d like to offer corrections on those points, which we have raised directly with the editors, along with some additional perspective on this important story about methane – a potent greenhouse gas and main component of natural gas. Read More
Also posted in Natural Gas
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, Colorado, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Natural Gas, New York, Utility Business Models
The most important takeaway from a study released today by Washington State University (WSU) is that despite improvements, large amounts of methane continue to leak from the nation's local natural gas systems. Because methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas, these yearly emissions are comparable to the CO2 from as many as 19 coal-fired power plants.
The estimated value of the gas escaping each year, by the way, is up to $195 million.
Although these figures represent a major ongoing challenge for gas utilities, they do reflect substantial improvement over the past two decades, thanks to a combination of effort and investment by utilities, along with a series of both state and federal policy changes enacted since 1992.
The new findings reinforce the fact that when regulators and companies both set their minds to fixing a problem, they can get some pretty good results. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a particularly powerful climate warmer – 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released to the atmosphere.
While they remain a serious problem, the ongoing utility emissions also represent an important opportunity for companies and regulators to make a big dent in greenhouse pollution. EDF believes the study underscores three major areas where improvement is necessary: Read More
Also posted in Natural Gas
Science is a process of asserting a hypothesis, collecting data, presenting results, and then having those data and results tested by other researchers. Peer-reviewed journals routinely allow for comments on papers and responses by the authors precisely in order to ensure that knowledge evolves and the dialogue is part of the public scientific record.
People paying close attention to the growing body of research on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry may note of a recent exchange in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) between Mr. Touché Howard and a team of scientists lead by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas. The studies by Allen et al. are among of a group of 16 studies on methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain being coordinated by Environmental Defense Fund. Read More