Selected category: Natural Gas

Big Oil and Gas Emissions out West – New Report Sizes Up Methane Problem on Federal and Tribal Lands

US-DOI-BLM-logoThe American West is home to the vast majority of the nation’s federal and tribal lands, which account for well over half of the total land area of several Western states. And, the Western states are also significant centers of domestic oil and gas production, contributing 80 to 90 percent of total federal and tribal production.

Now, a new report estimates that fugitive and vented losses from oil and natural gas operations on federal and tribal lands amounted to over 65 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas in 2013, representing over 1 million metric tons of harmful methane pollution.

The report, released this week by the independent consultancy ICF International and commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund, looks at oil and gas development on federal and tribal lands —specifically, emissions from gas that is leaked, vented, or flared every year.

Oil and gas emissions matter. Excessive venting, flaring and leaking of gas can degrade regional air quality. Moreover, natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In addition to the emissions associated with these activities, we believe venting, flaring and leaking of natural gas represents the wasteful loss of a finite and valuable natural resource.

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Also posted in Climate, Colorado, Methane, Wyoming| Tagged , , , , , , | Read 1 Response

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly When Oil Giants Shift to Natural Gas

14268938549_54fd0ea6c4_kSix large European oil and gas companies recently announced a commitment to engage on climate policy, calling for a price on carbon. The now-emerging picture of their coordinated corporate talking points, however, leaves no doubt that promotion of natural gas is a core part of the group’s position.

Is this development a beneficial push to help the planet transition to a low carbon economy – or just another marketing campaign? The truth, so far, lies somewhere in between.

Here are the good, the bad and the ugly highlights of what we’ve learned over the past week and what it all means. Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Methane| Comments are closed

Senate GOP Letter on EPA Methane Rule Misstates the Facts

A group of Republican Senators sent a letter to the White House yesterday questioning the administration's plans to begin regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. While EDF welcomes their engagement, the Senators' characterization of the problem, their representation of emissions data, and their reference to research funded by EDF are flatly incorrect.

The facts are these: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas—packing 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. That means it's a serious challenge, but also a huge opportunity to put the brakes on climate change quickly and cost-effectively. EPA’s latest inventory released in April estimates that in 2013, the oil and gas industry released more than 7.3 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere from their operations—a three percent increase over 2012—making it the largest industrial source of methane pollution. That’s enough to meet the needs of 5 million households, and packs the same short-term climate punch as the CO2 emissions from more than 160 coal-fired power plants. Read More »

Also posted in General, Methane| Comments are closed

EPA Looks at Fracking Risks to Water: No Data, No Problem?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited draft report on impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing on drinking water last week, completing the most extensive scientific review of published data to date. At nearly 1,000 pages, it’s a substantial report. But it’s nowhere near a comprehensive evaluation – or even enumeration – of the risks that oil and gas development poses to both surface and ground water.

The biggest issues aren’t what’s in the document, but what isn’t. For all its heft, the biggest lesson in the report is just how little we actually know about these critical risks.

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Posted in Natural Gas| Tagged , | Read 2 Responses

How to Ensure New Natural Gas Infrastructure Doesn’t Lock Out Renewables

PipelineIn an ideal world, our electricity system would run on 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Moving toward that goal means transitioning away from a system of centralized, fossil fuel power plants, to an intelligent, efficient, networked energy grid that smoothly integrates vastly increased amounts of renewables and energy-efficient solutions.

To do that, we have to balance the intermittency of renewables with our steady need for electricity. That’s where natural gas comes in: When the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing and renewables are offline, gas-fired plants can ramp up more quickly and efficiently than coal plants.

Many policymakers, regulators and industry members believe we have to build thousands of miles of new pipelines costing $150 billion or more to feed this need. But that could be an unnecessary and expensive mistake, not just now but over a very long term. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, General, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Reducing Drilling Pollution—Wyoming Did It, No Big Deal. Will Texas?

ozonegraphThe technological advances that led to the “shale revolution” have undoubtedly had a large economic impact on the Texas economy – something state leaders and the oil and gas industry are never shy about pointing out. But the impact drilling has on air quality and public health, that’s something energy-friendly Texas has not been so quick to recognize.

When not managed responsibly, drilling operations can contribute to the formation of ozone, also commonly known as smog. At certain concentrations, this pollution can trigger asthma attacks and cause other severe respiratory illnesses.

San Antonio is one place that’s seeing the clear connection between drilling and lower air quality, thanks to increased drilling just south of the city from the Eagle Ford Shale region. Before 2008, ozone levels in San Antonio had been steadily dropping, but when the shale revolution hit and drilling increased, regional ozone readings started going up.  In fact, based on air quality monitor readings from the last three years, San Antonio’s air quality is the 2nd worst in the state.  This correlation between drilling and ozone levels has been documented by The University of Texas and the Alamo Area Council of Governments, both of which concluded oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford Shale is materially impacting ozone levels in San Antonio. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Texas, Wyoming| Tagged | Comments are closed
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