Energy Exchange

Exxon methane proposal shows promise, but misses the mark on rigor, reductions

It’s big news when one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies announces it supports hard and fast regulations to reduce its industry’s methane emissions. And it deserves to be, since methane pollution is supercharging the climate crisis and enforceable, comprehensive regulations are the only proven way to make a significant dent in this problem.

However, go a level deeper on the Model Regulatory Framework Exxon unveiled this week and it quickly becomes clear that the specific strategies it proposes lack the ambition needed to dramatically reduce oil and gas methane emissions industrywide. Far from a nationally leading set of proposals, if implemented, they would actually be weaker than the methane standards currently in place in several leading states as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s current requirements.

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

Clean water regulators at the brink — Changes to the Clean Water Act spell trouble for New Mexico

Earlier this year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its proposal to dismantle significant portions of the Clean Water Act. Historic federal protections for some rivers and streams and wetlands will no longer be there — essentially allowing polluters to dump untold amounts of waste into our waterways unless state provisions stop them.

The decision could generate unknown repercussions to waterways across the country, and perhaps no state is more vulnerable than New Mexico.

The reason? New Mexico has very few surface water protections of its own, which means without federal standards, the state is facing an uphill battle to develop the tools it needs in order to step in and prevent polluters from contaminating water.

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Also posted in New Mexico, produced water, produced water / Comments are closed

Demonstrating with data: Shifting the oil and gas industry from awareness to action on methane emissions

In 10 short years, the climate impact of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry has moved from abstract understanding to a widely-recognized fact. Scientific studies conducted around the world have quantified the risk that methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, poses to climate.

Studies have also demonstrated that the oil and gas supply chain is among the largest industrial sources of methane and that reducing oil and gas methane is one of the most immediate and cost-effective ways to limit near-term climate warming today.

Some in industry have begun to respond. Companies like BP and Shell, and coalitions like the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative and One Future have committed to methane reduction targets and begun public reporting. Meanwhile, a group of companies, working with the United Nations Environment Program, European Commission, EDF and others have raised the ambition of another multi-stakeholder initiative — the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership — to improve the scope and rigor of methane management and reporting.  These commitments are important, especially when they are made publicly and demonstrate the oil and gas industry’s commitment to playing a role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

If the 2010s was a decade of awareness and words, the 2020s must be a decade of action and results. We must move past press releases announcing that companies will reduce methane emissions and begin seeing and believing they are actually doing it.

EDF’s new whitepaper, Hitting the Mark: Improving the Credibility of Industry Methane Data, provides industry a roadmap to the most critical piece of genuine methane action: good data. Hitting the Mark follows the 2018 publication of EDF’s Taking Aim, which presented criteria for establishing an environmentally ambitious methane target. Read More »

Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

By Adam Peltz and Nichole Saunders

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. As we learn more about technical advancements in the oilfield as well as risks from various aspects of production, it is vital that the regulations requiring best practices are kept up to date.

EDF believes this process of continuous improvement is foundational for protecting land, water and communities from development-related impacts. That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis. Building on our review of state progress toward this goal in 2018, we’ve gathered up the big changes states made this past year and assessed the trends.

Here are the big things we saw in 2019.

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Also posted in Methane, produced water / Comments are closed

Amid an oil and gas boom, New Mexico legislators need to refill regulators’ tanks

As lawmakers convene in Santa Fe for the current legislative session, they face a state transformed by an oil and gas boom. Expanded oil and gas drilling has made New Mexico the No. 3 oil producer in the nation and is transforming large swaths of the state’s landscape.

However, while oil and gas production has skyrocketed over the past decade, years of funding cuts under former Gov. Susana Martinez have left New Mexico’s energy and environmental agencies unable to guarantee oil and gas operations take place safely and responsibly.

The state’s leaders can chart a new course this year by ensuring these agencies have the resources they need to keep pace with industry’s growth and protect the health, air and water of New Mexicans across the state. This will mean going above and beyond the budget proposed for these agencies by Gov. Lujan Grisham in order to get vital regulators back on their feet.

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Also posted in Climate, Methane, New Mexico / Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed

Pennsylvania bill gives conventional drillers pass to cut corners, lets communities pay the price

In recent years, Pennsylvania has become an epicenter of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing boom. But even as production from “unconventional” wells – those using horizontal drilling and fracking – has grown, nearly 90% of the state’s 120,000 active wells are older, “conventional” vertical ones that typically rely on traditional drilling methods.

What does that mean for Pennsylvanians? Quite simply, it means that smart, commonsense policies for conventional wells matter. A lot.

However, the state legislature is considering SB 790, which could unravel well-established oil and gas protections while shifting many costs associated with conventional production to taxpayers. As the bill makes its way through the legislature, here are some key facts to keep in mind:

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Also posted in General, Pennsylvania / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed