Energy Exchange

Federal rollbacks + huge new oil and gas project = trouble for Wyoming

This blog was co-authored by Jon Goldstein and Sara Brodnax

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management collected comments from citizens and groups concerned about the impacts of a proposed 5,000-well oil and gas project in eastern Wyoming.

The situation has a troubling irony, because as BLM reviews the project’s environmental risks, it is simultaneously working to roll back its own commonsense standards to stop oil and gas companies from venting, flaring, and leaking away pollution and valuable natural gas.

It’s the same story for the greater sage-grouse, which without strong mitigation measures will likely abandon critical breeding sites in the area set to be impacted by the planned oil and gas project. Here, too, BLM has signaled several attempts to unravel the collaborative, decades-forged plans to protect the imperiled bird.

The combination of weakening policies while expanding development could have disastrous consequences for Wyoming and other western states if methane pollution goes unchecked and the greater sage-grouse continues to decline.

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Also posted in Air Quality, BLM Methane, Methane, Wyoming / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Left in the dark

This is part 3 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 2 or 4.

Los Angeles sits atop the nation’s largest urban oilfield, and over 3,500 oil and gas wells are sprinkled throughout LA County. They exist in neighborhoods ranging from posh Beverly Hills to less affluent areas like Compton, but not all of these wells are created equal.

More affluent areas benefit from stronger regulations that minimize the impact of oil and gas development, but there is often much less oversight of wells that sit in lower-income neighborhoods. It’s a difference one can’t help but notice:

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Methane / Comments are closed

New research shows Canada’s methane emissions problem is even worse, but it’s not hopeless

This post was co-authored by Dr. Daniel Zavala-Araiza.

New direct emissions data from oil and gas fields in Alberta should be a warning to regulators in Ottawa and Edmonton as they each prepare their methane regulations. A new study concluded that oil and gas methane emissions are 15 times higher than industry reports for 60 production sites measured in Red Deer. The discrepancy highlights the importance of strong federal and provincial regulations to address a problem science is continually showing to be much worse than industry claims it is. Strong regulations will show the world that Canadian gas can compete with lower-carbon gas supplies.

The research, published today in Elementa, uncovered that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry in Red Deer, Alberta are larger than companies estimate and that methane “super emitters,” a phenomenon we found in the U.S. oil and gas industry, may be just as much of a problem in Canada. Read More »

Also posted in Methane / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Could wastewater from oil and gas production help solve our water crisis? Not without better science

Climate change is drastically raising demands on the world’s fresh water supplies, and as a result, governments, scientists, and others are actively searching for new ways to manage and preserve our water resources.

One consideration includes repurposing wastewater generated from on-shore oil and gas development, which produces a whopping 900 billion gallons of water annually in the U.S. alone.

Some proponents of this option believe produced water may be a massive opportunity for water-scarce regions. Researchers at the University of Texas suggest recycling produced water for hydraulic fracturing operations could help address anticipated water shortage problems in the Permian Basin. Recycling wastewater within the oilfield is a viable option – as long as the spill and leaks, which can have significant and long-lasting negative impacts on soil and water resources, are minimized.

However, uses beyond the oilfield are much riskier if we don’t answer some critical questions first.

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Also posted in produced water / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: No peace of mind

This post is part 2 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 1 or 3

Oil and gas operations have existed for decades in California’s Central Valley and the greater Los Angeles area, but many people may not realize that over 3,500 active oil and gas wells dot LA County alone. These wells exist near schools, hospitals, and homes – which is cause for concern since oil and gas wells are known to emit dangerous chemicals like benzene, a known carcinogen.

So, what’s being done to ensure we have accurate, timely information about pollution coming from these oilfields? Very little. Few regulations require pollution monitoring at California’s oil and gas wells.

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Methane / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Backyard oilfields

This post is the first of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which spotlights the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 2 here.

Imagine having an oilfield in your backyard. That’s a fact of life for many Los Angeles residents. Nearly 600,000 people in the city live within ½ mile of an active oil well, and the city is home to the country’s largest urban oilfield (view on Google Maps).

Living so close to active oil and gas facilities is not without its risks. Public health studies have shown that communities near oil and gas operations are at increased risk of exposure to harmful pollution. The problem is that a lack of pollution monitoring near these well sites means neighboring residents don’t know what’s leaking into the air they breathe.

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Methane / Comments are closed