Energy Exchange

New IPCC report zeroes in on urgency of reducing methane

The new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the direst warning yet that we must rapidly and drastically slash climate emissions around the world and that reducing methane emissions is mission critical.

Though the report includes some important opportunities, it’s a very sober read. Let’s get some of the central but troubling conclusions out of the way.

We’ll likely pass 1.5C earlier than expected

Conducted by more than 200 of the world’s most influential climate scientists, the new assessment concludes we’re on course to surpass 1.5 C of warming by 2040, roughly a decade earlier than predicted in IPCC’s 2018 landmark report. A warming of 1.5 C will likely result in stronger and more frequent heat waves, heavier rainfall and flooding, more severe droughts and more powerful storms.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Funding to plug and remediate orphan wells moves forward in the Senate

The bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under debate in Washington includes a new, $4.7 billion program to address a significant environmental legacy of the fossil fuel industry — the plugging and remediating of orphan oil and gas wells.

Orphan wells have no owner, so the cleanup liability falls largely to the public. Nearly 60,000 such wells have been documented by state and federal agencies, but there are likely many hundreds of thousands more scattered across more than two dozen states.

Unless properly plugged, oil and gas wells no longer in use pose major environmental hazards. They can contaminate groundwater and surface water resources. They emit methane — a potent greenhouse gas over 80 times more powerful in contributing to warming in the short term than carbon dioxide. They can also release air pollutants that are hazardous to human health.

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

With oil and gas pollution rules restored, what’s next for EPA on methane?

Last month, President Biden signed into law S.J. Res. 14, a Congressional Review Act resolution restoring methane pollution standards for the oil and gas sector by repealing Trump-era rollbacks. With bipartisan backing, Congress passed the measure and rejected the Trump administration’s dangerous weakening of methane protections and its unlawful attempt to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from setting stronger standards in the future.

With these protections restored, this fall EPA will propose additional standards for both new and existing sources of methane emissions.

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Also posted in Colorado, Methane, Methane regulatons, New Mexico, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

Federal pipeline agency has essential opportunity to reduce methane emissions

By Erin Murphy and Elgie Holstein

The Biden administration recently directed gas pipeline companies to explain how they will minimize emissions of methane, which is both a potent greenhouse pollutant and the primary component of natural gas. This is the first step in implementing the PIPES Act of 2020, which Congress passed last year detailing new oversight requirements with an enhanced focus on environmental protection as well as safety.

Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide during the first 20 years after release, which makes pipeline emissions a crucial element in a national climate strategy.

Natural gas pipelines emit methane through unintended leakage and deliberate operational releases. Researchers estimate that distribution pipelines alone have about 630,000 leaks emitting 690 thousand tons of methane annually — five times higher than estimated in the U.S. EPA greenhouse gas inventory.

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Also posted in Air Quality / Comments are closed

What new Permian research means for U.S. methane policy

By Dan Grossman and Ben Hmiel

Newly released research is shedding more light on the largest sources of methane emissions in the nation’s largest oilfield.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and has a huge impact on the current rate of global warming. The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest emitters.

Using a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera, we surveyed over a thousand sites across the Permian Basin to get specific information about the types of facilities, equipment and events that make the Permian Basin the highest-polluting oilfield in the country. Three things immediately stood out.

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

Methane controls mean cleaner air on the Navajo Nation

By Megan Kelly and Jon Goldstein

Policy action at both the tribal and federal levels this spring is creating promising momentum for cutting down on methane pollution on the Navajo Nation and across the Colorado Plateau, a step in the right direction for tackling climate change. Reducing methane waste would also improve public health and bring much-needed revenue to tribal and state governments.

In late April 2021, the Senate voted to restore an Obama-era U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. The Trump administration had previously rolled back this rule and eliminated federal requirements that oil and gas companies detect and fix methane leaks from their operations.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly from Arizona; Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján from New Mexico; and Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper from Colorado, all voted in favor of moving toward reinstating those important requirements.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, New Mexico / Comments are closed