Energy Exchange

New companies oppose methane rollbacks but industry divide remains

The stakes are high for businesses to support strengthened Environmental Protection Agency methane regulations.

While there are multiple pathways to achieve a net zero carbon emissions future by 2050 in the U.S., it’s clear that the oil and gas industry can and must virtually eliminate methane emissions. Not only is methane control an environmental priority, it is the most immediate and cost-effective decarbonization option for natural gas. Action on methane is a litmus test of industry’s ability to make necessary changes, and build the muscle to support responsible public policy that cuts emissions and stimulates innovation.

The late November close of the comment period on EPA’s proposal to eliminate methane regulation and exempt large segments of industry from pollution control requirements shows a growing industry divide. A review of industry filings to EPA reveals three game changers for the politics and policy of federal methane regulation.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Illinois PUC decision may signal changing tide for natural gas utilities

While economic and environmental concerns have driven significant electric sector improvements, climate impacts of continued reliance on natural gas for heating and cooking has gone largely unchecked. A recent decision by the Illinois Commerce Commission sends a signal that natural gas utilities will not be permitted to invest customer dollars unchecked.

State public utilities commissions regulate natural gas distribution utilities and set their rates of return, one component of which is “return on equity.” These regulators thus have a tremendous influence on the long-term profitability of utilities and their investment decisions. Higher rates of return incentivize greater system buildout — the more the utility builds, the greater their profit.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Illinois, Methane / Comments are closed

California fires, electricity outages need not be “the new normal”

A dire, almost defeatist thread has been running through social media and other commentary around the California wildfires and the widespread, preemptive electricity outages across the state. The sense of urgency about catastrophic side effects of climate change is right on. And it is true that fixing our electric grid will be a long and mighty task.

But we do not —and should not — have to accept this as “the new normal.”

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Pennsylvania has an opportunity to lead on methane as EPA falters

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on its proposal to gut key regulations that reduce climate-damaging methane emissions, and protect communities from pollution from oil and gas development. Methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas responsible for 25% of current global warming, is also the main component of natural gas, which is an important energy resource in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the second-largest natural gas producing state in the U.S. and should act now to ensure its residents do not lose key protections put in jeopardy by the federal government. Gov. Wolf recently committed to join the ranks of states working to limit carbon pollution. By joining the many other oil and gas producing states across the country stepping up to cut methane pollution from existing oil and gas infrastructure, Pennsylvania has a chance to lead by quickly advancing their current rule proposal.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

Federal methane rollbacks spark new opposition from 12 major utilities

Backlash continues to grow against the Trump administration’s efforts to deregulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The coalition opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s rollbacks now includes major oil and gas companies¹, a midstream gas transmission operator, investors representing over $5.5 trillion in assets under management and 12 of the nation’s largest utilities

These utilities, who use natural gas produced by oil and gas companies for electricity generation and delivery to commercial and residential consumers, have expressed strong opposition to the proposed regulations, recognizing national standards as the “foundation” of industry efforts to reduce methane emissions.

The public comment period, which began on Sept. 24, offers downstream energy providers a key opportunity to publicly add their voice to the broad set of stakeholders supporting federal regulation of methane in the oil and gas sector.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

New bill provides California with a powerful tool to reduce emissions and improve air quality

A new bill (AB 1328) just passed in the California legislature and is awaiting Gov. Newsom’s signature. The bill requires California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, in consultation with the California Air Resources Board, to initiate an independent evaluation of the climate and health pollution impacts from idle, deserted and abandoned wells Just like active production sites, these inactive oil and gas wells can leak pollution, affecting communities through climate change and health impacts.

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Methane / Comments are closed