People often think of the energy sector as a great place to find jobs, but some of the best, most stable job opportunities in the sector aren’t what you’d think. They’re not dedicated to resource production, but to minimizing the millions of tons of natural gas and associated pollution that leaks as the product is produced and delivered, wasting resources and causing a serious environmental problem.
Each year, more than 7 million tons of methane – the main component of natural gas and a powerful pollutant – escapes from oil and gas operations. These emissions pack the same short-term warming punch as pollution from 160 coal-fired power plants, and equal enough wasted natural gas to heat and cook meals for 5 million American homes.
Companies across the country are already harnessing the power of American innovation to solve this problem, creating new job opportunities in the process. And, a growing trend toward stronger state and federal safeguards to standardize methane reduction best practices is putting more wind in the sails of this growing industry.
Many of the positions being created are skilled, high-paying jobs for workers such as engineers and welders, according to a 2014 Datu Research report on the emerging methane mitigation industry. But these companies need a variety of other positions filled too, from sales to accounting to general labor. Read More
A new analysis out today shows Canada’s oil and gas sector can achieve substantial cuts in emissions of methane – a powerful pollutant and the primary ingredient in natural gas – using low-cost pollution controls. Conducted by ICF International, the independent report evaluated the many reduction opportunities for Canada’s oil and gas industry to curb harmful and wasteful methane emissions. EDF commissioned the study and released it in partnership with the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading clean energy think tank.
Natural gas is about 95 percent methane and packs a climate warming punch 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. Because of its short-term potency, methane accounts for 25 percent of the global warming we feel today.
Canada is the fourth largest global emitter of oil and gas methane emissions, according to a Rhodium Group analysis. Better controlling these emissions across Canada can provide instant benefits to the climate and for public health (methane is emitted along with other toxic pollutants that lead to smog), while also saving millions in wasted natural gas. And, even better, we now know that reducing these emissions in Canada is highly cost-effective, similar to the conclusion of an earlier ICF analysis done for the U.S. Read More
There is often staunch disagreement between industry and policymakers on how to address pollution. But an event last week convening business leaders, federal and state officials and other stakeholders showed that there’s at least one idea on which they can agree and work together: the feasibility of reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
Here are four perspectives shared at this event that give me hope we can solve the large, but addressable problem of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry if we take a fact-based, collaborative approach. That would be great news in itself, and powerful precedent for tackling the broader climate opportunities ahead.
Environmental regulations are not a zero sum game. Martha Rudolph, director of Environmental Programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, was on the front lines when Colorado proposed the nation’s first direct regulation of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. At the event, she shared her state’s powerful example of unlikely allies coming together to protect climate and communities in a way that makes business sense. Read More
Over the last two weeks, EPA has held a series of hearings across the country to collect public testimony in response to its new proposal to curb oil and gas companies’ emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane. The hearings provided a chance for stakeholders in areas where the oil and gas industry has a significant footprint – Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh – to voice their concerns and perspectives. Lawmakers, business leaders, health professionals, and other community members arrived at the hearings by the hundreds to show support for actions that can stop wasteful drilling practices, improve air quality, and slow climate change.
Out of Denver, Colorado State Representative Joseph Salazar told the EPA he supported efforts to regulate methane pollution simply because “I want to make sure my children have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.”
His remarks were echoed by Christine Berg, mayor of Lafayette, Colorado: “Ask yourselves, shouldn’t all people, no matter where they live, have equal access to clean air?” Read More
*Live morning webcast 9/29*
Around the country, people are talking about methane. Last week hundreds showed up to testify at public hearings in Dallas and Denver, weighing in on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to fight oil and gas methane pollution.
Tomorrow, EPA will hear from many more stakeholders in Pittsburgh, while a panel of experts that EDF is convening in Washington, DC, will discuss how we can cost-effectively reduce methane pollution using technologies already on the market.
The public hearings have largely reflected the concerns of local communities impacted by oil and gas industry air pollution. This is important as an overwhelming majority of voters support EPA’s proposal and view new rules as reasonable and necessary. This is hardly a surprise considering the oil and gas industry wastes over 7 million tons of methane pollution into the air every year, representing enough gas to heat 5 million homes and $1.2 billion dollars (at current prices) that could otherwise help boost our local economies. This tonnage of methane leakage also packs the same short-term warming power as 160 coal-fired power plants each year.
Though the energy waste and pollution is enormous, cutting methane emissions is not an insurmountable problem. That’s what you can expect to hear from tomorrow’s discussion hosted by The Hill titled, “Powering the Economy: A Discussion on Natural Gas, Methane Policy, and American Business.” Read More
A new Massachusetts law requiring gas utilities to annually report the location and age of known gas leaks has, for the first time, enabled the mapping of gas leaks from natural gas distribution pipelines across the state. This effort parallels EDF’s methane mapping project, as part of which it is publishing maps of methane leaks from utility pipes in various U.S. cities, highlighting the scale of the problem and the need for thoughtful utility and regulatory responses.
The issue is multidimensional. Gas leaks have both environmental and economic consequences, in addition to public safety implications. Most states only require utilities to address leaks that pose a present or future public safety threat. Other leaks can and do continue unabated for years, wasting gas and imposing an undue economic burden on ratepayers. The environmental implications are also serious. Methane, which is the primary constituent of natural gas, is a greenhouse gas, 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Read More