Energy Exchange

Trump’s EPA moves one step closer to dangerous proposal to eliminate methane pollution standards

By Rosalie Winn

Over the last several weeks, widespread reporting has documented the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change. Recent reports have shown White House attempts to block a senior state department official’s testimony on climate change, and documents that EDF recently obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests show Trump administration advisor William Happer coordinating closely with the Heartland Institute to discuss work that sought to undermine climate science.

At the same time, the Trump EPA has likely taken another step towards entirely deregulating a powerful climate pollutant. Last week, the Trump EPA sent to the Office of Management and Budget a proposal that is expected to entirely eliminate direct regulation of methane from the oil and gas sector — an action that is starkly at odds with the overwhelming body of scientific evidence on the harmful nature of methane pollution and one that even some of the biggest industry leaders have come out publicly against.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

New and better way to assess the climate impact of new pipelines

The urgent need to decarbonize the energy system makes it imperative for state and federal regulators to understand the climate impacts of proposed energy infrastructure. Officials deciding whether to approve new natural gas pipelines must be able to answer a crucial question: Will a particular pipeline reduce pollution by speeding the demise of more carbon intensive alternatives, or increase greenhouse emissions by locking in dependence on another fossil fuel?

Yet to date, natural gas utilities and pipeline developers have been largely unwilling to provide detailed life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments to regulators reviewing their supply projects and plans. Nor have regulatory agencies been pressing for this data.

In fact just this morning, Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) Commissioner Richard Glick testified to Congress that “the Commission is ignoring its statutory mandates under the Natural Gas Act by refusing to analyze reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas emissions associated with new interstate natural gas pipelines and facilities used to import or export liquefied natural gas.”

But a new analysis released this week of a proposed interstate pipeline project in New York and New Jersey significantly advances this compelling need. The fact that it was commissioned by a utility company makes it even more significant.

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Also posted in New Jersey, New York / Comments are closed

Gas utility planning is behind the times. Rhode Island has a plan to fix it.

When it comes to how utilities plan for future gas needs and use, challenges abound: Pipelines are built before state regulators have an opportunity to assess whether it is prudent for a gas utility to take service from that pipeline; decisions are made behind closed doors with little opportunity for stakeholder input; and planning efforts do not appropriately consider options other than traditional infrastructure such as energy efficiency, gas demand response, or renewable alternatives to natural gas.

Pending before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RI PUC) is a proposal that would meaningfully resolve many of these issues. The utility in the state and the PUC staff crafted a joint memo proposing a more robust planning framework and rigorous oversight of utility decisions. As EDF recently explained in its comments to the RI PUC, this framework will serve the public interest and can be used as an important model for other states.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency / Comments are closed

New whitepaper demonstrates how China can take a world class approach to underground gas storage

By Dan Mueller and Hanling Yang 

点击这里用中文阅读

As China replaces high-polluting coal with cleaner burning natural gas to address its air quality concerns, natural gas demand in the country has undergone rapid growth. China is charting a course to aggressively increase its underground gas storage (UGS) capacity over the next two decades.

Though UGS brings benefits to the gas supply system, including operational flexibility and efficiency, it can also bring significant risk to human health, safety and the environment. Here in the United States, we’ve seen first-hand what can happen when things go wrong with UGS. Aliso Canyon in California, where a nearly 50-year old depleted reservoir gas storage facility lost containment, leaked 100,000 tonnes of methane over four months and forced the evacuation of 11,000 residents from an adjacent neighborhood.

As China draws upon leading technical and regulatory guidance addressing UGS facilities, it is critical that it develop and institute a management framework throughout all phases of UGS operation, from planning and construction through operation and, ultimately, closure.

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Also posted in China / Comments are closed

Not all biogas is created equal

By Joe Rudek and Stefan Schwietzke

In this climate-conscious economy, where many consumers demand cleaner energy options, gas companies are exploring more opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint.

One option gaining traction is biogas – a form of natural gas that comes from decaying biological sources (like decomposing food and manure), rather than fossil fuels. In fact, gas utilities from Vermont to California have introduced programs to allow their customers to purchase biogas through the existing gas system.

Some utilities suggest that biogas cuts carbon emissions across the energy sector. However, the reality is that biogas must be developed with safeguards that protect the climate and local environmental conditions, and is only one tool among many needed to address the climate crisis.

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Posted in Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New Mexico’s million-ton methane problem

By Jon Goldstein and David Lyon

You can’t see what you don’t look for. That axiom is at the heart of the problem with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane emission estimates. It is also why a new analysis based on empirical data and cutting-edge science finds a far larger methane emissions problem in New Mexico than previously thought.

EPA estimates emissions based on data reported by oil and gas operators and a set of assumptions about leak rates called “emission factors.” EDF and our research partners decided to take a closer look at emissions in New Mexico, conducting direct measurements at well facilities and applying the latest science to understand leaks in the supply chain.

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