Energy Exchange

EPA methane rollbacks contradict agency’s own scientific findings

By Rosalie Winn and Hillary Hull

As the world races to adopt cleaner fuels and implement carbon-reducing strategies to combat a warming climate, the Trump administration is moving feverishly to severely weaken federal methane emissions regulations across the entire oil and gas industry.

The Trump EPA’s current proposal to weaken the New Source Performance Standards 2016 methane rule will add 480,000 tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere within the next seven years, while simultaneously wasting tens of millions of dollars-worth of natural gas.

The EPA is proposing to weaken the current standards in the face of recent research warning that excessive waste of natural gas (methane) from the oil and gas sector is much higher than previously estimated, underscoring the harmful climate implications of methane leaks from oil and gas production well sites. This move also comes on the heels of a new federal government report published last month highlighting the dire social and economic consequences of climate change.

Particularly baffling is that the EPA’s own new analysis recognizes that increasing methane detection efforts will reduce methane emissions in the atmosphere, and doing so is more cost-effective than originally estimated by the agency. Despite the agency’s own scientific conclusions, the Trump EPA is choosing to move forward and weaken the standards, disregarding logic and common sense. Read More »

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Investors call on BP, Exxon, Shell to defend EPA methane regulations

Last week, investors representing $1.9 trillion assets under management called on 30 oil and gas companies, urging them to publicly oppose the EPA’s proposed weakening of its methane rules. This letter is signed by investors including CalSTRS, the New York City Comptroller’s Office, and Robeco, all of which have joined together to say no to these regulatory rollbacks.

Investors look to minimize risk while maximizing value. Methane emissions are a risk, and the proposed rule changes will increase emissions by the EPA’s own estimates. So it is no surprise that investors with nearly $2 trillion worth of assets are speaking up to defend this risk-reducing rule.

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Methane rollbacks test BP, ExxonMobil, Shell commitments to support Paris goals

By Ben Ratner and Nat Keohane

As business executives join leaders from government and civil society for COP24 in Katowice, Poland, a regulatory rollback across the Atlantic puts a sharp focus on the seriousness of energy companies’ commitments to support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report detailed the devastating consequences from a rapidly warming planet. One critical piece of the solution is reducing emissions of highly potent short-lived climate pollutants. In fact, deep reductions in emissions of non-CO2 pollutants, particularly methane, are essential to staying below temperature targets, and have the added benefits of improving public health, food security, and ecosystems.

The oil and gas industry is a leading source of potent methane emissions. But in the world’s largest oil and gas producing nation—the United States—the Trump Administration is working to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, while simultaneously rolling back common sense standards to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

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EPA hearing illustrates broad support for methane rule

By Rosalie Winn and Matthew McGee

Last month, EPA held its one and only public hearing on a proposed rollback of federal methane protections.

The Trump Administration’s attempt to gut rules that cut methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities—the first step of a two-pronged effort to eliminate federal regulation of methane altogether—was met by near-universal condemnation from the scores of individuals who testified at EPA’s Denver headquarters.

Opposition to the rollback came from many corners: parents concerned for their children’s health, tribal members worried about the toll on their native lands, and investors and scientists alarmed at the threat to our economy and climate.

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Joint venture methane risk is also a climate opportunity

With mounting concern about the state of the climate and increasing speculation about natural gas’ role in decarbonizing energy markets, oil and gas companies face growing scrutiny from the public and investors. Some companies are stepping up with pledges to reduce emissions of methane from their worldwide operations.

But there’s a catch.

As our new analysis, The Next Frontier: Managing Methane Risk from Non-Operated Assets, explains, current commitments by the industry’s most forward-looking companies mostly leave out a vast global network of assets owned by those companies but operated by another.

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One year after corporate methane advocacy commitments, serious doubts emerge

The credibility of recent industry methane commitments is under the microscope.

One year ago, many of the world’s top oil and gas companies publicly committed to support methane policies and regulations to reduce emissions from the global oil and gas industry. But today, serious doubts are emerging about whether the companies will keep their promise in the face of extreme regulatory rollbacks in the largest oil and gas producing nation in the world—the United States.

Companies with significant U.S. production—like BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and Shell—committed to “advocate sound policy and regulations on methane emissions,” including working “constructively” with governments and others “in the development and implementation of effective methane abatement policies or regulations.” EDF, which worked with industry and others to develop the principles, welcomed the companies’ commitments. We noted that “done right, voluntary action is a way for leaders to raise the bar for industry’s performance, but fair competition and a healthy environment are not possible unless all companies meet the same basic standards that only sensible government regulation can achieve.” The five companies noted above have since joined others in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative in committing to a voluntary methane target. But government regulations are under threat, creating the imperative for an unequivocal industry response.

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