Energy Exchange

3 things to watch as New Mexico begins hearing on new oil and gas air pollution rules

Under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico has made oil and gas air pollution and methane reductions a focus of regulatory improvements, restoring enforcement teeth to the governor’s Oil Conservation Division and finalizing a strong methane waste rule that bans routine venting and flaring earlier this year.

These critical policy efforts will reach a climax starting Monday, Sept. 20, as the state’s Environmental Improvement Board considers landmark new rules proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department that have the potential to dramatically cut pollution from the oil and gas industry, clean up the air and protect the health of local communities.

Here are three things to watch as the EIB hearings unfold.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane regulatons, New Mexico / Comments are closed

OGMP reporting framework offers investors a clear and credible standard to understand and track oil and gas methane emissions

By Andrew Baxter

Thanks to a decade of groundbreaking research, methane emissions from oil and gas operations have advanced from a relative afterthought among climate pollutants to an A-list issue in the global climate conversation, as well a widely acknowledged reputational, regulatory and financial liability for the industry.

Major investors are demanding responsible methane action from oil and gas companies. But assessing progress is challenging because of an overall lack of reliable data, and the fact that standards vary widely for the methane accounting that does exist.

Traditional estimates of methane from oil and gas production have been found to underestimate emissions by 60%. In certain oil and gas basins, studies have found emission rates to be more than 10 times higher than industry figures. Despite a growing number of voluntary reduction targets, reporting methods lack standards and transparency, making it virtually impossible to draw meaningful comparisons over time or across companies.

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Posted in Methane / Comments are closed

As Texas fails to stop flaring, EPA must act

Routine flaring in Texas is, well, too routine. It’s wasteful, harmful for health and the climate, and getting permission to burn gas instead of finding a productive use for it is far too easy in our state. Over 1 trillion cubic feet of Texas gas have been vented or flared by operators in the past decade — as much gas as 14 million Texas households use in an entire year.

Under mounting pressure from investors, communities and oil and gas operators, factions of industry have made recent public commitments to reduce this wasteful practice. For example, the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition announced a collective goal to end routine flaring in Texas by 2030.

This may sound like progress, but in reality it’s yet another decade of wasteful flaring and a pledge that comes with no commitment to the regulatory changes vital to make it happen statewide. We can’t wait that long.

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Also posted in Colorado, Methane regulatons, New Mexico, Texas / Comments are closed

What to look for as EPA readies landmark methane rules

EPA is preparing to release proposed rules to cut oil and gas methane pollution from both new and existing facilities — one of the most critical and cost-effective actions we can take to immediately slow the rate of global warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Recognizing the importance of this opportunity, yesterday, over 70 community, health, tribal and environmental organizations sent EPA a letter expressing strong support for its efforts to develop methane pollution safeguards and urging the agency to propose protective and comprehensive standards for new and existing sources.

By leveraging advanced technologies and ensuring meaningful coverage, the rules can secure the substantial, science-based pollution reductions needed to help address the climate crisis and to ensure healthy communities.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

New IPCC report zeroes in on urgency of reducing methane

The new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the direst warning yet that we must rapidly and drastically slash climate emissions around the world and that reducing methane emissions is mission critical.

Though the report includes some important opportunities, it’s a very sober read. Let’s get some of the central but troubling conclusions out of the way.

We’ll likely pass 1.5C earlier than expected

Conducted by more than 200 of the world’s most influential climate scientists, the new assessment concludes we’re on course to surpass 1.5 C of warming by 2040, roughly a decade earlier than predicted in IPCC’s 2018 landmark report. A warming of 1.5 C will likely result in stronger and more frequent heat waves, heavier rainfall and flooding, more severe droughts and more powerful storms.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Funding to plug and remediate orphan wells moves forward in the Senate

The bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under debate in Washington includes a new, $4.7 billion program to address a significant environmental legacy of the fossil fuel industry — the plugging and remediating of orphan oil and gas wells.

Orphan wells have no owner, so the cleanup liability falls largely to the public. Nearly 60,000 such wells have been documented by state and federal agencies, but there are likely many hundreds of thousands more scattered across more than two dozen states.

Unless properly plugged, oil and gas wells no longer in use pose major environmental hazards. They can contaminate groundwater and surface water resources. They emit methane — a potent greenhouse gas over 80 times more powerful in contributing to warming in the short term than carbon dioxide. They can also release air pollutants that are hazardous to human health.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed