Energy Exchange

Investors call on BP, Exxon, Shell to defend EPA methane regulations

Last week, investors representing $1.9 trillion assets under management called on 30 oil and gas companies, urging them to publicly oppose the EPA’s proposed weakening of its methane rules. This letter is signed by investors including CalSTRS, the New York City Comptroller’s Office, and Robeco, all of which have joined together to say no to these regulatory rollbacks.

Investors look to minimize risk while maximizing value. Methane emissions are a risk, and the proposed rule changes will increase emissions by the EPA’s own estimates. So it is no surprise that investors with nearly $2 trillion worth of assets are speaking up to defend this risk-reducing rule.

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Methane rollbacks test BP, ExxonMobil, Shell commitments to support Paris goals

By Ben Ratner and Nat Keohane

As business executives join leaders from government and civil society for COP24 in Katowice, Poland, a regulatory rollback across the Atlantic puts a sharp focus on the seriousness of energy companies’ commitments to support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report detailed the devastating consequences from a rapidly warming planet. One critical piece of the solution is reducing emissions of highly potent short-lived climate pollutants. In fact, deep reductions in emissions of non-CO2 pollutants, particularly methane, are essential to staying below temperature targets, and have the added benefits of improving public health, food security, and ecosystems.

The oil and gas industry is a leading source of potent methane emissions. But in the world’s largest oil and gas producing nation—the United States—the Trump Administration is working to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, while simultaneously rolling back common sense standards to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

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EPA hearing illustrates broad support for methane rule

By Rosalie Winn and Matthew McGee

Last month, EPA held its one and only public hearing on a proposed rollback of federal methane protections.

The Trump Administration’s attempt to gut rules that cut methane pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities—the first step of a two-pronged effort to eliminate federal regulation of methane altogether—was met by near-universal condemnation from the scores of individuals who testified at EPA’s Denver headquarters.

Opposition to the rollback came from many corners: parents concerned for their children’s health, tribal members worried about the toll on their native lands, and investors and scientists alarmed at the threat to our economy and climate.

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Joint venture methane risk is also a climate opportunity

With mounting concern about the state of the climate and increasing speculation about natural gas’ role in decarbonizing energy markets, oil and gas companies face growing scrutiny from the public and investors. Some companies are stepping up with pledges to reduce emissions of methane from their worldwide operations.

But there’s a catch.

As our new analysis, The Next Frontier: Managing Methane Risk from Non-Operated Assets, explains, current commitments by the industry’s most forward-looking companies mostly leave out a vast global network of assets owned by those companies but operated by another.

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One year after corporate methane advocacy commitments, serious doubts emerge

The credibility of recent industry methane commitments is under the microscope.

One year ago, many of the world’s top oil and gas companies publicly committed to support methane policies and regulations to reduce emissions from the global oil and gas industry. But today, serious doubts are emerging about whether the companies will keep their promise in the face of extreme regulatory rollbacks in the largest oil and gas producing nation in the world—the United States.

Companies with significant U.S. production—like BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, and Shell—committed to “advocate sound policy and regulations on methane emissions,” including working “constructively” with governments and others “in the development and implementation of effective methane abatement policies or regulations.” EDF, which worked with industry and others to develop the principles, welcomed the companies’ commitments. We noted that “done right, voluntary action is a way for leaders to raise the bar for industry’s performance, but fair competition and a healthy environment are not possible unless all companies meet the same basic standards that only sensible government regulation can achieve.” The five companies noted above have since joined others in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative in committing to a voluntary methane target. But government regulations are under threat, creating the imperative for an unequivocal industry response.

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In New Mexico's Permian, federal plans mean more methane waste unless state steps up

As the landlord for a vast area of public land in Southeast New Mexico, one of the federal Bureau of Land Management’s primary responsibilities is to ensure the resources in that area are wisely managed to benefit the people of New Mexico. Why then is that agency moving forward on a plan that would waste millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas resources every year?

That is one of the primary questions posed today as a broad coalition of conservation and environmental groups filed comments with the BLM on their draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the area surrounding Carlsbad. Once finalized, this RMP will help guide BLM’s management decisions for 6.2 million acres over the next two decades.

Unfortunately, this RMP contains no methane waste provisions to reduce things like leaks from oil and gas operations.

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