On April 8, InsideClimate News published an in-depth story about Environmental Defense Fund’s groundbreaking work to measure emissions of methane.
While we don’t agree with everything in the story, we’re glad it recognizes the scope, ambition and scientific integrity of our work. As InsideClimate News concludes:
Environmental groups almost never take on scientific research efforts. Investigations on this scale are normally organized by the federal government or the National Academy of Sciences. Coordinating what’s become an $18 million series of 16 studies by more than 100 researchers has turned EDF into a heavyweight on the science of methane pollution.
The project’s findings will influence government policy concerning the $292 billion-a-year U.S. oil and gas extraction industry and the regulation of fracking…[And] environmentalists acknowledge that EDF has managed to pass some of the nation’s strictest regulations where others have failed.
InsideClimate News interviewed 40 scientists, activists, academics and industry representatives – more than half of whom aren’t involved with the EDF research. This group included 15 methane researchers. None of them said they thought the industry was manipulating EDF’s research results or pressuring scientists to change their data.
But the story also gets some important things wrong, on issues the reporters never asked us about.
We’d like to offer corrections on those points, which we have raised directly with the editors, along with some additional perspective on this important story about methane – a potent greenhouse gas and main component of natural gas. Read More
Last month, I attended the Vail Global Energy Forum in Colorado. Billed as a “mini-Davos” of energy (studiously ignoring the Aspen crowd a few hours down the highway), that moniker may have felt aspirational when the conference launched three years ago. But, this year it paid off: momentum for frank dialogue and global innovation is building on the slopes of the Vail Valley.
Here’s my take on how the clean air of the mountains cuts through the hot air of energy debates to illuminate practical, actionable ideas.
Three big ideas drove the conference:
- North American energy independence
Mexico, the United States, and Canada could, together, innovate their way to an energy marketplace that weakens dependence on overseas imports, scales up clean energy solutions, and charts a path to low-carbon prosperity. At times, the discussion was framed by the rise of unconventional oil and gas exploration (yes, “fracking”), collaboration around pipelines (yes, “Keystone”), and whether these could disrupt traditional geopolitical frames. Read More
Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Colorado, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Methane, New York, Utility Business Models
The most important takeaway from a study released today by Washington State University (WSU) is that despite improvements, large amounts of methane continue to leak from the nation's local natural gas systems. Because methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas, these yearly emissions are comparable to the CO2 from as many as 19 coal-fired power plants.
The estimated value of the gas escaping each year, by the way, is up to $195 million.
Although these figures represent a major ongoing challenge for gas utilities, they do reflect substantial improvement over the past two decades, thanks to a combination of effort and investment by utilities, along with a series of both state and federal policy changes enacted since 1992.
The new findings reinforce the fact that when regulators and companies both set their minds to fixing a problem, they can get some pretty good results. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a particularly powerful climate warmer – 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released to the atmosphere.
While they remain a serious problem, the ongoing utility emissions also represent an important opportunity for companies and regulators to make a big dent in greenhouse pollution. EDF believes the study underscores three major areas where improvement is necessary: Read More
Oil and gas companies spend a lot of time and money reminding us just how much good they’re doing in the world. But according to a new Gallup poll released yesterday, when it comes to fracking, the American people aren’t convinced.
Production is booming and prices are the lowest in decades, due in large measure to fracking and a suite of other technological innovations that have led a revolution in production from ‘unconventional’ sources of oil and gas in the U.S. In particular, the rapid increase in natural gas production is providing a boon to consumers and helping to reduce our dependence on coal, which in turn has helped reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution.
And yet the new poll shows that just 60 percent of Americans surveyed are either opposed or undecided about fracking.
Why? Read More
With the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants nearing finalization, all sides are looking closely at the capacity of our existing infrastructure to deliver emission reductions from the power sector — including the natural gas infrastructure that could help reduce the need for aging, carbon-intensive coal-fired generation.
Some opponents of the Clean Power Plan say we need to invest billions of dollars in thousands of miles of new pipelines, while environmentalists, clean energy advocates and others are concerned that investments in new pipelines serves to reinforce fossil fuel dependence.
What policymakers and regulators need to know is this: Right now, 46 percent of the pipeline capacity that already exists isn’t being used, according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Yes, 46 percent.
Figures like this mean everybody needs to rethink the whole infrastructure equation, and how to balance it most effectively. Read More
Long familiar in major urban areas, smog – what we experts call “ground-level ozone” pollution – is quickly becoming a serious problem in the rural mountain west, thanks to rapid expansion in oil and gas development. Smog can cause serious health impacts like aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and even premature death. In areas like the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming, smog levels have sometimes rivaled those in Los Angeles.
Now, the Environmental Protection Agency and several western states are putting the pieces in place to fix this problem: EPA through proposed revisions to the health-based ozone standard that will better protect people from pollution, and states like Wyoming and Colorado through strong policies that are helping to reduce the sources of ozone pollution in the oil and gas industry.
In official public comments filed this week with EPA, EDF and a broad coalition of western environmental and conservation groups supported a more protective ozone standard and pointed out the importance of this issue to the intermountain west–where most of the country’s oil and gas production from federal lands occurs.