Conversations around climate change almost always involve carbon dioxide, with good reason. It’s essential to dramatically reduce this pollutant to drive down the total amount of climate warming our children and grandchildren will experience. But, what we’ve also learned over the last few years is that an effective climate strategy needs to do two things: Reduce cumulative warming and the speed at which this warming is happening.
Next to CO2, methane is the most impactful greenhouse gas. While it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, methane packs 84 times more warming power for the first 20 years after it’s emitted.
About one-quarter of the warming we are experiencing today is attributable to human emissions of methane, with the oil and gas industry its largest industrial source. Fortunately, there are cost-effective strategies to reduce methane emissions across the oil and gas industry. There is nothing as quick, easy, or cost-effective at slowing the rate of climate change right now than reducing oil and gas methane pollution. Read More
Also posted in General, Methane
New findings by NASA scientists attributing a giant, invisible cloud of methane – nearly 5 times the size of Mexico City – over the southwestern U.S. to the region’s sprawling web of oil and gas facilities raise important new concerns not just on this side of the border, but for Mexico as well.
Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Scientists estimate that methane contributes to about 25 percent of today’s warming. Cleaning up methane also reduces other pollutants: both ozone precursors that affect air quality and air toxics that erode human health.
The recent NASA paper linking the methane cloud to production, processing and distribution of oil and natural gas also notes that just a small portion of these sites, about 10%, were responsible for more than half the emissions. This is just the most recent example of a long list of scientific studies that have found that subset of sites or facilities disproportionately account for the majority of emissions. Scientists have called this subset of sites super-emitters. Read More
Also posted in General, Methane Tagged Mexico
This morning, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on the Environment will hold a hearing on the EPA’s methane emissions regulations, during which I will offer some insights into how and why the oil and gas industry should reduce methane emissions.
This is the first hearing about the methane issue, and while the panel is tipped in favor of industry and we don’t expect testimony to cover all the facts, here are a couple things to look out for as the discussion unfolds.
Industry representatives who are not in favor of regulations will try to make the following points:
- They will say that the oil and gas supply chain isn’t the problem.
- They will say that the oil and gas industry is more than capable of self-regulating.
- They will say that regulation will cost a struggling industry too much, and will put American jobs at risk.
None of these statements is true.
What is true is the fact that methane poses a significant threat to our environment. Over the first 20 years following its release, methane is some 84 times more potent than CO2 in terms of the climate damage it does. While CO2 represents a continuing, long-term threat in the form of accumulated, long-lived and rising atmospheric concentrations, methane drives near-term climate effects. The result is that 25% of the global warming we are experiencing now is due to methane emissions. Read More
After several years of collaboration among regulatory experts from across the country, the Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC), recently published a set of 136 “Regulatory Elements” intended to provide regulators with ideas to consider when improving oversight of the permitting, construction, operation and plugging of oil and gas wells.
This may sound dry, but regulations addressing these elements are what keep oil and gas wells from blowing up during drilling or later leaking methane, oil, saltwater, hydraulic fracturing fluid, and other contaminants into air or groundwater.
With over 15 million Americans living within a mile of a well, strong rules on well integrity covering the wide variety of topics addressed in these elements make a huge difference to human health and the environment. Read More
After a long and hard-fought legislative session, the dust is settling in California’s capitol. Many forward-looking clean energy bills sit on Gov. Brown’s desk, while others did not make it that far. It’s a time when legislative staff and advocates step back, breathe a sigh of relief, and take stock of what has been accomplished, what was lost along the way, and – most importantly – what remains to be done.
AB 1937 (Gomez) – a bill to avoid new natural gas plants in heavily burdened communities – and other key energy bills await the governor’s signature. Efforts to expand the entity that manages our electric grid, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), also continue. For the state to realize its vision of an economy powered by clean energy resources, it is crucial Gov. Brown sign these key energy bills and work closely with the legislature to expand CAISO.