Energy Exchange

Cutting methane emissions from natural gas gives EU global climate leverage

Policymakers around the world increasingly recognize that along with carbon dioxide, cutting emissions of methane is critical for reaching the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Methane is a key element in the reinvigorated U.S. climate strategy and — for the first time — discussed in China’s latest five-year plan.

Now the EU has a chance to significantly influence methane emission reductions not only within Europe, but globally.

Methane from human activities is responsible for at least 25% of today’s warming. One of the largest emitters is the oil and gas industry. The European Commission Methane Strategy released last October identifies the global oil and gas sector as the most cost-effective opportunity for methane emission reductions.

The key to the EU’s global methane leverage lies in the continent’s vast gas market. A new policy brief by the Florence School of Regulation and Environmental Defense Fund describes policy pathways to unlock the opportunity, while a separate analysis prepared for EDF by Germany’s Enervis Energy Advisors illustrates how a comprehensive policy could offer far-reaching climate benefits.

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

From carbon accounting to carbon accountability: It’s time for banks to step up

The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials recently welcomed its 100th member, a milestone that reflects banks’ growing focus on measuring financed emissions. But while robust carbon accounting is necessary for the long term, it is no substitute for action now. To pick up the pace of Paris alignment, banks must begin targeting financed emissions in carbon-intensive sectors immediately.

Improving data and disclosure is a valid long game, with mandatory climate risk disclosure and corporate leadership playing important roles. But financial institutions already have many of the tools and much of the data points needed to ramp up action in carbon-intensive sectors.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

Congress should restore critical methane pollution standards

By Rosalie Winn and Raisa Orleans

EDF Legal Fellow Edwin LaMair contributed to this post.

Lawmakers last week introduced joint resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to restore widely-supported methane pollution protections and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward swiftly with ambitious next-generation standards for new and existing oil and gas facilities. The move has received broad support from environmental groups and at least one industry trade group.

The resolutions have widespread support among both House and Senate leadership and will be fast-tracked in the coming weeks.

EPA first adopted the standards in 2016 to reduce the oil and gas industry’s pollution of methane — a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas — along with other smog-forming and hazardous local air pollution.

Methane is responsible for a quarter of the warming that we are experiencing today, and the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane pollution in the U.S. Local health-harming pollution from the industry impacts more than 9 million Americans who live on the frontlines of oil and gas development. Read More »

Also posted in General, Methane / Comments are closed

A U.S. economy-wide methane target: essential, achievable, affordable

The Biden administration is preparing to announce a new U.S. greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030 under the Paris Agreement — a pledge known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC — in advance of this year’s United Nations climate talks. Given the last four years of U.S. climate inaction and denial, it is important that the U.S. put forward an ambitious yet credible target and restore its position as a global leader on climate.

Although many countries pledge a single headline target that includes all greenhouse gas emissions, we believe that a complementary methane target is an essential addition that will considerably benefit the climate. Although it would include methane, a combined target is not sufficient to ensure that immediate and strong actions are taken to reduce methane emissions at the extent warranted.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

A year of data and one clear message: Permian flaring remains a major problem

By Colin Leyden and Ben Hmiel

Even amidst a global pandemic and market volatility that reduced oil and gas activity, at least one thing didn’t change in the Permian last year: operators can’t seem to keep their flares lit.

Throughout 2020, EDF conducted aerial surveys of portions of the Permian Basin to determine the performance of natural gas flares. Even when done properly, flaring is a wasteful, polluting practice that has earned industry “a black eye.” But when flares malfunction they also become major sources of highly potent, climate-polluting methane.

Over the course of 2020, we conducted periodic surveys of flares in various parts of the Permian. These took place in February, March, June and November, and included a series of consecutive, repeat surveys of one specific area on November 2, 4 and 6 meant to understand how long flare malfunctions persist. In total, we studied nearly 1,200 flares in the region.

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

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2020

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce health, safety and environmental impacts. States engage in a process of continuous improvement by adopting new rules and practices as technologies and risk mitigation techniques evolve — even in an extraordinary year like 2020. EDF tracks state trends in oil and gas regulation related to the protection of land, water and local communities, reporting notable state actions each year.

2020 presented multiple challenges for the oil and gas industry and state regulators, including the twin shocks of an OPEC price war and a steep decline in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, many states showed strong commitment to ensuring environmental integrity by adopting critical new rules across a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2020.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, produced water / Comments are closed