In its draft 2017 GHG inventory, published this week, the EPA estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas industry were lower than their previous estimate in the 2016 inventory.
The vast majority of the decrease comes from methodological changes in how EPA does these estimates and does not represent actual reductions from improved industry practices. We expect to see fluctuation in EPA estimates in future inventories as the agency continues to revise their accounting methods; this inventory should not be viewed as the final answer. But, to see the actual trend in emissions, you should compare 2015 emissions to their updated estimate of 2014 emissions, not the estimate from last year’s inventory. EPA estimates a mere 2% reduction in actual emissions, largely attributable to reduced drilling activity and well completions, which is a result of lower oil and gas prices in 2015. This points to the importance of recently enacted regulations, like the EPA NSPS and BLM rule, to drive the much greater reductions needed to minimize waste and the climate impacts of oil and gas. Read More
By Carol Andress, Director of Legislative Operations, Climate & Air
With legislation flying fast and furious through the Capitol – much of it using new or unusual legal mechanisms – lawmakers today must be doubly mindful of unintended consequences. Case in point: Actions rushed through the House and Senate under an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the details of which can cause deeper, more lasting impact than the simple name implies.
The CRA dates to the 1990s. It says that any rule finalized by a federal agency can be subject to an expedited congressional repeal for 60 legislative days after the agency sends up a copy of the final rule and a report detailing the reasons for its promulgation. Within that window, either chamber can introduce a joint resolution of disapproval – which, if passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, effectively voids the rule.
The law sounds simple enough. But it leaves a lot of room for error or mischief. Read More
This post was update on February 10th.
A new study from the U.S. Department of Energy adds to the large and growing body of research on the problem of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane is both the main component of natural gas and a powerful climate pollutant – which is why regulators, scientists, and industry all have a vested interest in developing a more complete understanding of how much methane is emitted and from which sources.
Researchers with the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) used a life cycle model to integrate data from several of EDF’s methane studies, and estimated that 7.3 million metric tons of methane were emitted along the natural gas supply chain in 2012. This value is about 10% higher than the corresponding estimate in the 2016 EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI), although the difference was not statistically significant (the NETL confidence interval ranged from -20% to +30% of the central estimate). Read More
This post originally appeared on the EDF Voices blog.
Today, lawmakers are using the Congressional Review Act to dismantle common-sense energy policies that can save Americans hundreds of millions of dollars and prevent massive amounts of energy resources from being needlessly wasted.
The targeted policies from the Bureau of Land Management apply to oil and gas companies that operate on 245 million acres of federal and tribal lands. Since 2013, these operators have wasted more than $1.5 billion worth of natural gas that belongs to the American public, with millions in lost royalties as a result.
That comes to more than $1 million every day – hardly what President Trump had in mind when he promised to maximize our natural resources. Read More
California’s Air Resource Board (ARB) recently released a strong and likely final draft of new regulations that will reduce methane pollution from new and existing oil and gas facilities across California.
Methane essentially is natural gas — wasting it is tantamount to wasting an energy resource. California producers report losing about 75,000 metric tons of methane every year, while nationally companies on publicly owned lands reportedly waste more than $1 million worth of natural gas every day. Alongside methane, oil and gas facilities also emit a list of toxic pollution like hydrogen sulfide, toluene, xylene, and benzene, all of which can be harmful to public health. Read More
Pennsylvania is the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas, yet the state’s gas industry is guilty of leaking massive quantities of methane – essentially the gas itself – into the atmosphere. Fortunately, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to ensure Pennsylvania is leading on energy, not on air pollution. Here are five reasons why state leaders are moving forward to address invisible, yet harmful, methane emissions. Read More