By Jayant Kairam and Timothy O’Connor.
Adding insult to injury, Californians learned this spring that the disastrous four-month methane leak at the sprawling Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility could result in a new problem: outages.
The failure at Southern California Gas Company’s massive storage site exposed a critical weakness in the state’s energy system. Densely populated Southern California is over-dependent on natural gas from a single provider.
As a result, a vast area stretching from San Diego in the south to Los Angeles and San Bernardino County in the east may face power and gas shortages during the hot summer and cold winter months, a recent report by a group of state regulatory agencies warned. Read More
In partnership with Mexico’s Mario Molina Center and Canada’s Pembina Institute, EDF released a policy brief in Mexico City this week that illustrates that national action in the United States, Canada and Mexico could cheaply and quickly eliminate 232 billion cubic feet of methane from the North American oil and gas industry.
Titled “North American Climate Leadership: A road map for global action,” the brief synthesizes analyses included in ICF’s North American report and its research conducted in the U.S. (2014), Canada (2015) and Mexico (2015). All of ICF’s analyses found that reducing methane from the oil and gas supply chain is cost-effective and environmentally beneficial. Even at today’s historically low gas prices, the cost of capturing methane would add just one penny to the current price of gas, based on the cost of solutions and the ability to sell the recovered gas. Read More
Also posted in General, Methane
It’s been an interesting time for water in Texas. Beyond the incredibly wet and cool spring we’ve been having, Memorial Day saw the second year in a row of record-breaking floods.
And a few weeks ago, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) asked for comments on the draft 2017 State Water Plan. The TWDB is the state agency responsible for water planning, and every five years it produces a strategy that “addresses the needs of all water user groups in the state – municipal, irrigation, manufacturing, livestock, mining, and steam-electric power.”
In the five years since the last state water plan, Texas has gone from one extreme to the other in terms of water: from the throes of a devastating drought to historic flooding that resulted in some reservoirs being full for the first time in 15 years.
In this climate of feast or famine, we need to better understand our water supplies and conservation efforts, both of which have a strong tie to our energy choices. That’s why Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) weighed in on Texas’ draft water plan. Not only does the state significantly overestimate the amount of water needed to make electricity, but a more comprehensive view of energy in relation to water demand and supply would benefit the 2017 State Water Plan and future plans. Read More
The natural gas industry group Our Nation’s Energy (ONE) Future Coalition released a paper yesterday applying their own set of assumptions to an earlier analysis commissioned by EDF, which had shown that oil and gas methane emissions can be dramatically reduced for about a penny per thousand cubic feet of gas sold. Both analyses were carried out by ICF International.
We always welcome new points of view, but it's important to note the new calculations change key variables in ways that boost the cost of reducing methane emissions while significantly understating benefits of these reductions. An even bigger problem comes when others in the industry public relations machine start to mischaracterize the study.
Despite these changes, the results still end up making what we think is a strong case for sensible regulatory standards to make sure that best practices become the standard practice industry-wide in order to reduce the oil and gas industry’s nearly 10 million metric tons of yearly methane emissions.
Even Slanted Figures Underscore Need for Rules Read More
Last week’s White House announcement marked an important step in the march toward global climate action. The U.S.-Nordic Leader Summit Joint Statement, issued by the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, underscored the need for a broad climate strategy, one that prioritizes reductions in both long- and short-lived climate pollutants across key industry sectors.
In addition to addressing renewable energy, HCFs, international aviation emissions and deforestation, the statement included a commitment for each country to develop a national plan to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful short-lived greenhouse gas. This is critical, given a wave of scientific data that highlights the need to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas supply chain. The agreement is another sign that methane is starting to get the international attention it deserves, as reducing oil and gas methane is one of the most impactful and cost-effective actions we can take to slow the current rate of warming. Read More
Also posted in General, Methane
To get anything accomplished, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. One unsung story buried in last week’s release of EPA’s new source methane rules may make good options even better – driving innovation and offering industry more options to meet the methane challenge.
The new rules target a pervasive problem: methane – the primary component of natural gas – leaking throughout the oil and gas value chain. Methane emissions represent a waste of saleable resources, a reputational risk, and a contributor to both poor local air quality and climate change.
Under the EPA’s framework, oil and gas operators must take steps to minimize emissions from new and modified sources – from finding and fixing equipment leaks to swapping out equipment to reduce methane vented from pneumatic controllers and pumps,. Companies in Colorado working to comply with the state’s similar rule have reported that putting similar measures in place are cost-effective, even generating positive returns from selling the captured gas.
But what should an agency do when the solutions available now are reasonable but not perfect? Existing strategies don’t monitor all the time—only a few days a year. So leaks and malfunctions can be missed, or leak for months before they are fixed. Read More