By Joe Rudek and David Lyon
A new peer-reviewed paper in Environmental Science and Technology suggests that methane emissions from natural gas power plants and oil refineries may be significantly higher than accounted for in current inventories. The report estimates average hourly methane emissions 11 to 90 times higher for refineries, and 21 to 120 times higher for natural gas power plants than those calculated from data provided by facility operators to Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
By multiplying total CO2 emitted annually by all US natural gas power plants and refineries (as tallied by EPA) by the methane-to-CO2 emission ratio determined in the study, the authors estimate yearly methane emissions from the nation’s refineries and gas-fired power plants are twenty times higher than currently reported. Read More
For decades communities in California who live close to oil and gas facilities have reported experiencing unbearable odors of gas, headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, and even cardiac complications as a result of the industry’s emissions. The health impacts of oil and gas pollution were made crystal clear last year after a massive gas leak at a Southern California storage facility led to mass hospitalizations and forced hundreds of families to evacuate their homes.
But massive gas leaks like the one at Aliso Canyon aren’t the only cause for alarm. A string of new reports confirm what many concerned communities have known for years: oil and gas emissions from across the entire supply chain can wreak havoc on our health, and are often higher than experts previously thought. Read More
U.S. states are accelerating steps to reduce oil and gas air pollution. Just last week Ohio – which has a Republican Governor, and Republican-controlled Senate and House – joined the list of states targeting oil and gas emissions with a new methane policy that requires operators to check for leaks at compressor stations four times a year. Showing that it’s not a matter of politics, but smart policy to require oil and gas companies to regularly inspect for and repair leaky equipment.
At the same time, Canada is developing its own requirements to cut oil and gas methane emissions by 45 percent, an effort that some in industry are resisting over concerns of possible U.S. federal policy changes. But Canada needs to keep its eyes on the states where action has taken hold for good reason.
Methane, a powerful pollutant, has emerged as a key energy and environmental challenge.
Natural gas is mostly methane. When it leaks and is vented from thousands of oil and gas facilities, methane loss to the atmosphere is wasted energy that hurts not only businesses but local economies. Read More
Last Thursday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt withdrew the agency’s Information Collection Request (“ICR”) for the Oil and Natural Gas Sector, abruptly halting the gathering of information on harmful methane, smog-forming and toxic pollution from these industrial sources.
In announcing the move, Administrator Pruitt hailed the benefits for the oil and gas industry, but notably ignored the interests of everyday Americans right to know about harmful pollution from oil and gas facilities.
Pruitt’s action also stops EPA from obtaining information that can inform future safeguards against this pollution. Even though cost-effective, common-sense best practices and technologies exist to reduce emissions from oil and gas facilities, most existing facilities in this sector are largely exempt from any requirements to control the vast quantities of pollution they emit.
This flawed decision is at odds with the core tenets of the agency Administrator Pruitt is entrusted to lead and inimical to the health and environmental laws he has committed to faithfully execute. Unfortunately, it is also altogether predictable. Indeed this action—which allows oil and gas companies to withhold vital pollution data from thousands of sites across the country— reflects and reinforces concerns raised about Administrator Pruitt’s ability to lead an agency that he has persistently sought to undermine. Read More
Also posted in Natural Gas
A new report confirms with greater accuracy than ever before that California natural gas utilities are letting huge amounts of their product escape into the atmosphere – about 6.6 billion cubic feet in 2015. That’s more than the amount of gas released during last year’s Aliso Canyon disaster, and over twice the total loss from all of the state’s oil and gas wells.
These huge gas losses are a major environmental problem. Methane – the main ingredient in natural gas – is a potent climate pollutant. Leaks and other emissions from California utilities in 2015 have the same climate impact as burning more than 1 billion gallons of gasoline.
Where the data comes from and what it means
In 2014 California passed SB 1371, a new law requiring utilities to reduce methane emissions. This new report is based on emissions data collected under that law. Read More