Energy Exchange

Canada’s Trudeau exemplifies climate leadership in the face of COVID-19 crisis

As countries everywhere struggle to balance crucial long term priorities like climate change with the urgent health and economic issues faced by millions suffering the effects of a viral pandemic, the government of Canada has distinguished itself with a new policy designed to address both sets of challenges without shortchanging either.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Canada’s Energy Stimulus Plan offers a standout example of how world leaders can carefully meet society’s immediate needs while simultaneously reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that is destabilizing our climate. Trudeau’s response demonstrates that it is possible to protect and preserve jobs — even in the oil and gas sector — while still cutting emissions.

The plan, announced in April, includes over CA$2 billion to help offset the crisis in the energy sector, while keeping a sharp focus on the economy and the environment. It includes CA$1.7 billion to clean up old, so-called orphan wells across Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which the government estimates will preserve more than 5,000 jobs in Alberta alone.

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Also posted in Canada, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Methane: Europe’s missing link for effective energy decarbonization

The EU Sector Integration Strategy, expected in June, has become the top energy policy issue this year, and it will define the role of gas in Europe’s current and future transitions.

In recent weeks, there have been increasing calls for Europe’s gas decarbonization to focus on hydrogen and renewable gases, while saying very little — if anything — about energy-related methane emissions. Yet according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reducing methane is a critical complement to reducing carbon dioxide emissions if we are to reach our greenhouse gas reduction goals and stabilize the climate.

The commission’s plan thus far seems to be taking a cross-sector approach in addressing methane emissions across energy, agriculture and waste. It is sensible, given that human-made methane emissions from oil and gas, agriculture and other sources are responsible for over a quarter of the warming our planet is experiencing now.

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Also posted in Climate, Europe, Methane / Comments are closed

However you measure it, Permian oil and gas operations have highest emissions ever measured in a U.S. oilfield

Two fundamentally different methods EDF is using to measure and understand methane emissions in the Permian Basin are producing strikingly similar results. The mutually reinforcing sets of data — one gathered using aircraft, the other by satellite — each show that oil and gas operators in the region are releasing more than 3.5% of the natural gas they extract from the ground into the atmosphere as methane pollution.

That’s roughly twice the average rate found in 11 other major U.S. oil and gas basins. The wasted gas in the Permian is enough to supply 2 million American homes for a year.

The first of these efforts is EDF’s year-long PermianMAP, which tracks emissions from the ground and in the air, and takes the unprecedented step of publishing data online in near-real time to help industry and officials reduce those emissions, while letting the public see the results. The other is the first peer-reviewed scientific study to take direct measurement of Permian emissions, using the European Space Agency’s TROPOMI instrument.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

CalSTRS says climate is major portfolio threat, companies must walk the walk on net-zero

A few weeks ago, EDF’s Ben Ratner spoke extensively with Brian Rice, a portfolio manager at California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems about key issues in environmental social and governance investing.

CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with roughly $243 billion in managed assets. EDF has been working closely with the firm on corporate engagement for more than five years.

This is the first of a two-part Q&A series with CalSTRS examining prospects on ESG and climate investing through the energy transition. This portion of the discussion explores the rise of ESG, the importance of policy, and what comes next for companies with net-zero commitments.

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Also posted in California, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Satellites and state regulators: New data spotlights extreme emissions and need for action in nation’s largest oilfield

By Jon Goldstein and Colin Leyden

This week a study drawing on nearly a year’s worth of satellite data revealed that Permian methane emissions are the highest ever measured from a U.S. oil and gas basin.

As the federal government continues its rollback of methane safeguards, public attention is now trained on policymakers and companies in Texas and New Mexico — two leading oil producing states that straddle the Permian Basin.

While New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham forges ahead on nation-leading rules to curb oil and gas methane waste and pollution, state leaders in Texas have yet to get serious about a problem that could undermine the industry’s viability in an economy that increasingly prioritizes cleaner sources of energy.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

It’s time for the Texas Railroad Commission to curb flaring to prevent waste, protect property rights

This piece originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle

The Texas Railroad Commission has a unique chance to save the state’s oil and gas industry from one of its own worst habits — setting fire to over 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas each year, transforming a valuable asset into waste and pollution with zero benefit to anyone. Now, as commissioners eye production cuts in response to collapsing oil prices, they also have an opportunity to stem the profligate practice known as flaring.

The measure under consideration is called proration. Last used in the 1970s, it allows the commission to set a monthly production ceiling equal to market demand, with shares allocated among the state’s producers based on a variety of factors. Often described as a way to raise prices by limiting supply, authority for proration actually comes from the commission’s statutory obligation to prevent the waste of natural resources and protect property rights.

Flaring, of course, is the very definition of waste. Since 2013, operators in Texas have burned off roughly a trillion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to meet the yearly needs of every Texas home three times over. In 2019, Permian operators alone flared almost 300 billion cubic feet of gas, sending over a million dollars a day up in smoke.

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