Energy Exchange

EPA’s proposal to rollback methane rules ignores scientific evidence, will lead to 5 million tons of methane pollution

By Rosalie Winn and Jessica Christy

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler proposed to entirely eliminate regulation of methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. He also proposed removing all federal regulation for both methane and harmful volatile organic compounds from pipelines and other midstream facilities.

The proposal is an attempt to prevent any federal oversight of pollution from more than 850,000 older oil and gas facilities across the country, while removing additional safeguards for new sources in major swaths of the oil and gas supply chain.

The proposal targets previous rules EPA adopted to address air pollution from oil and gas facilities built or updated after 2015. These “new source” rules include commonsense requirements to cut both methane and VOC emissions across the upstream (production, gathering and boosting, and processing) and midstream (transmission and storage) segments of the oil and gas supply chain. While companies have been complying with these policies for years, the current proposal seeks to:

  1. Eliminate all methane standards across the oil and gas supply chain.
  2. Exempt facilities in the transmission and storage segment from any federal standards.
  3. Prevent any future regulation of pollution from “existing” sources built before 2015.

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

Can fossil fuel companies find a place in a climate-friendly world?

We have to transform our energy system to avert the worst impacts of climate change. And if oil and gas companies want a place in that future, they must transform themselves—or else be consigned to history. Is it realistic to think fossil fuel companies could be part of the solution? Plenty of reasonable people say no, but I think constructive engagement with some in the industry can speed the transition. A few companies have taken meaningful steps in the right direction. To secure a place in the future, however, they need to think bigger and move faster.

The challenge is urgent and stark: The world’s economy needs to reach net-zero greenhouse emissions early in the second half of the century to achieve what science says is necessary. Net-zero means putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than we can take out. To hit this ambitious global goal, Europe, the U.S. and other advanced economies must get to net-zero, 100% clean economies by 2050.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

Trump’s EPA moves one step closer to dangerous proposal to eliminate methane pollution standards

By Rosalie Winn

Over the last several weeks, widespread reporting has documented the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. Recent reports have shown White House attempts to block a senior state department official’s testimony on climate change, and documents that EDF recently obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests show Trump administration advisor William Happer coordinating closely with the Heartland Institute to discuss work that sought to undermine climate science.

At the same time, the Trump EPA has likely taken another step towards entirely deregulating a powerful climate pollutant. Last week, the Trump EPA sent to the Office of Management and Budget a proposal that is expected to entirely eliminate direct regulation of methane from the oil and gas sector — an action that is starkly at odds with the overwhelming body of scientific evidence on the harmful nature of methane pollution and one that even some of the biggest industry leaders have come out publicly against.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Three key questions for EU policymakers considering the sustainability of gas

In response to DG Energy’s invitation that the European gas industry investigate the ways it can contribute to the reduction of methane, a powerful climate pollutant, two prominent trade groups issued a new report to inform policy discussions around the 2020 gas package – also touted as the decarbonisation package – ahead of the 32nd Madrid Forum in Spain this week.

At nearly 150 pages, the Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) and Marcogaz report is a substantial review of best practices for reducing oil and gas methane emissions. For all of its heft, however, the report does little to spell out any relevant policy recommendations to improve the industry’s overall efficiency, skirting its responsibility to advise the Commission on methane policy when it is such a pressing sustainability question to answer in the Union Methane Strategy before the end of 2019.

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Also posted in Europe, Methane / Comments are closed

Industry’s shift on methane must continue

Put aside any notion that oil and gas industry leaders might be growing less focused about methane. Whether motivated by economics or pressure from major investors, the overwhelming impression we’ve had at major industry gatherings this year has been just how deeply methane emissions have permeated the conversation.

At some moments, this year’s CERAWeek felt as much like a climate conference as an oil and gas convention.

That’s not to say the problem is solved, or that our work is anywhere near done. To the contrary, the shift is a reflection of how much more lies ahead now that the issue has been firmly established. What is clear, however, is the widespread recognition that how companies handle methane is a core business challenge that will help shape the gas industry’s prospects in a decarbonizing energy landscape.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

The Oil & Gas Methane Partnership is a valuable forum for companies aiming to earn public trust

Once considered a niche environmental concern, methane emissions have emerged as a strategic issue for oil and gas companies around the world. The reason is simple: methane emissions from human activities account for over one quarter of our planetary warming today, and the global oil and gas industry is responsible for nearly 30% of this.

Voluntary methane mitigation efforts by industry are necessary but not sufficient to fully address the scale of the problem. Government and civil society must also be engaged. At present the only global forum where industry, government and civil society come together on the issue is the Oil & Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP), an UN-backed initiative that provides companies a platform through which to report their methane emissions and credibly share their actions and results with the public.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed