How do you detect a colorless, odorless gas? It’s an important question especially when that invisible gas is as damaging as what comprises oil and gas pollution. We are talking about hazardous air pollutants (benzene), ozone precursors (volatile organic compounds), and greenhouse gases like methane – a gas that is more than 80 times more damaging than carbon dioxide to the climate in the short term.
Widely available tools like infrared cameras and hand-held hydrocarbon detectors are very effective at detecting leaks from oil and gas equipment, but new technologies and new science are always welcome.
That’s what makes a new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology exciting. Led by experts from EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and co-authored by EDF’s David Lyon, this study uses a new technique to identify and measure methane emissions at oil and gas facilities.
If you send a bucket to the well, you make sure it doesn’t have a hole in it first. You’re careful that the new milk carton isn’t seeping all over your refrigerator shelf. And you know that a dripping water pipe can mean big problems if you don’t get after it quickly. Leaks are messy, wasteful, and often costly.
That’s why sensible people avoid leaks when they can, and fix them when they need to.
And it’s why oil and gas companies should be fixing thousands of leaks that are letting at least $1.7 billion dollars’ worth of natural gas vent or leak from their well sites, pipelines, and local gas delivery systems every year. The waste is enough natural gas to heat five million homes a year.
It’s bad enough to waste a valuable commodity. What’s worse is that unburned natural gas, which is mostly methane, has a potent effect on the climate, packing over 80 times more warming power than carbon dioxide over the first twenty years of a methane molecule in the atmosphere. And that leaking methane is frequently accompanied by smog-forming pollution. Read More
Also posted in Natural Gas
By: Tom Murray, VP Corporate Partnerships
This past year, we’ve seen some bold action by companies in what we’ve dubbed the business-policy nexus, and it’s taking several different forms. Some have been calling for state or federal action on environmental impacts, while others are taking far-reaching voluntary efforts that could help support policy advocacy in the future.
Whether you view engagement on public policy as risk mitigation, providing market certainty, supporting corporate sustainability goals, or securing competitive advantage, leading businesses are increasingly stepping up their efforts to support smart policy reform that will benefit the environment and economy.
Keeping toxic chemicals out of supply chains
Walmart and Target are moving to proactively get harmful chemicals out of their supply chains, even though the nation’s main chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is outdated and hasn’t been reformed in nearly two decades. Read More
Earlier this week the Center for American Progress held an event to raise awareness about the impacts of methane. “Opportunities for Curbing Methane Pollution” brought together representatives from a wide spectrum of backgrounds: state and federal policy experts, environmental advocates, and labor. While each had their own reasons, be them safety, jobs, health, climate, all agreed that reducing methane emissions from the US oil and gas sector was both critical and possible. That sentiment was captured nicely by Judi Greenwald from the Department of Energy:
“For most people it’s primarily about methane and… these greenhouse gas reductions, but I think there are a lot of other [policy] drivers. In some instances it’s really the safety benefit that’s most important…. [And] there are a lot of other reasons to do this. So you get agreement on actions, but you might actually not get agreement on each [policy] driver.”
Reducing methane emissions is good for the climate
Carol Browner, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, offered opening remarks during which she said methane is a “very serious climate problem” because of its potency as a greenhouse gas. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame and short-term climate forcers like methane will drive a significant portion of the climate change we experience in our lifetime. Read More
Also posted in Natural Gas
Just over a week ago the BlueGreen Alliance—a coalition of 15 of America’s largest labor unions and national environmental groups representing more than 15 million members and supporters—sent a letter to President Obama supporting national standards to reduce methane emissions. EDF’s Natural Gas Director of Communications, Lauren Whittenberg, recently talked with Rob McCulloch, Director of Infrastructure Programs at BlueGreen Alliance to learn more about their interest in this issue.
Lauren: Hi Rob. Can you tell us a little about BlueGreen Alliance, and the work you’re doing?
Rob: BlueGreen alliance is a national partnership working to find common ground among labor unions and environmental groups and advance policies that help build a cleaner, fairer, and more competitive American economy.
Our partners agree: Our nation’s response to today’s environmental challenges will determine our future economy. It is important that our response includes the creation of good, family-sustaining jobs for future generations. Read More
The droughts in the west and the rains in the east this week are compelling reminders that the impacts of climate change are here and now. Just this week the Pentagon issued a report laying out how they will adapt to growing threats to our nation’s defenses in the face of climate change. We need to act now to reduce the pollution from coal, oil, and natural gas that is making climate change worse and move aggressively to clean, renewable energy sources.
People and organizations throughout the nation – and across the globe – (including EDF) are working to bring about the transformation that can build a strong clean energy economy at the pace needed to match the urgency of the climate change we are now experiencing.
Even as this work continues, a growing number of voices are calling for action to cut potent methane emissions from our oil and gas industry – one of the biggest sources of climate pollution in the country. We cannot afford to ignore real opportunities to cut pollution right now from any source, including the fossil fuel energy sources that make up the bulk of our energy use today. Read More
Also posted in Natural Gas