Energy Exchange

Zero routine flaring by 2025 and the Texas policy needed to get there

Routine flaring at oil and gas production sites in Texas has been a chronic issue for years, as the rampant process burns off viable fuel product while emitting carbon dioxide, methane and toxic pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. Yet momentum for eliminating the practice is building among investors, operators and landowners, pushing the state’s regulatory body, the Texas Railroad Commission, to consider new flaring policy.

Several major operators, such as Chevron and Pioneer, have already significantly reduced flaring rates to less than 1%. In a recent blog touting Exxon Mobil’s greatly improved Permian flaring performance, the operator stated their experience, “demonstrates that zero routine flaring is within everyone’s reach.”

But as J.P. Morgan Asset Management stated in a recent flaring report, “voluntary operator actions to reduce routine flaring, while necessary, have proven insufficient to deliver on the industry’s full potential,” while reiterating “zero routine flaring by 2025 represents an important and achievable goal.” In order to achieve this goal, policymakers must step in to ensure widespread adoption and outline actionable goals.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, Texas / Comments are closed

VW settlement funds spark string of North Carolina electrification projects

By Michelle Allen

After years of legal and legislative wrangling at state and federal levels, the first round of Volkswagen settlement funds will soon begin to flow to grantees. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Hendersonville), the General Assembly unanimously passed legislation in June to release $31 million to fund the first of a three-phase plan to utilize the state’s settlement allocation. The funds are part of the settlement Volkswagen agreed to after six years of deliberately programming vehicle models to deceive tailpipe inspectors by dramatically under representing their nitrogen oxide emissions — a pollutant linked to respiratory diseases and a key element for the formation of smog and acid rain.

The settlement dictated that allocated dollars only be spent on projects that reduce air pollution. In North Carolina, that first round of funds has been earmarked to replace the state’s oldest transit and school buses with a combination of improved efficiency and zero-emission models. Of the total $31 million, lawmakers also allocated $3.4 million to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the state.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, North Carolina, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Data underscores need to strengthen Pennsylvania’s methane rule proposal

In July, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection will conclude its public comment period on proposed rules to curb methane emissions from existing oil and gas facilities.

As the state weighs feedback, EDF analysis shows Pennsylvania operators emit over 1 million tons of methane annually — 16 times what they report to regulators — and underscores the need for rules that close existing loopholes to properly address this climate and public health risk.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has already demonstrated leadership on methane with permits to cut pollution from new oil and gas infrastructure. Now Pennsylvania has an opportunity to tackle the vast majority of its methane emissions, which come from existing oil and gas facilities.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

New York’s EV plan takes small but critical steps in the right direction

UPDATE: Since the publication of this blog post on June 11, 2020, the New York Public Service Commission released an order that recognizes the legitimacy of calls from stakeholders to address the requirements of both passenger EVs as well as trucks and buses. It proposes a $15 million “make-ready” pilot program for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles that, among other considerations, “must support a direct reduction of diesel emissions located in environmental justice communities through electrification of the medium-duty/heavy-duty vehicles and trucks.” In addition, the commission directs $10 million toward utilities partnering with transit authorities in the state to provide make-ready bus infrastructure in depots, and directs the establishment of a $20 million competition to drive innovation in the medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle sector. This innovation competition will give heightened consideration to last-mile movement of goods and people in disadvantaged communities. EDF is gratified to see these small but critical steps in the right direction, for the reasons explained in the below blog post, and will work with the commission to ensure these programs are as beneficial as possible.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, New York / Comments are closed

5 questions on flaring for investors to ask oil and gas companies

For investors concerned with environmental, social and governance issues, flaring poses one of the most immediate and material risks to shareholder value in the oil and gas industry. For an industry that prides itself on operational excellence, flaring is a waste of potentially saleable product and an unsustainable industry practice with detrimental climate and public health effects.

But the practice of routine flaring, which burns off natural gas at oil and gas sites when producers are unprepared to transport or store the fuel, is also a challenge with clear opportunity for solutions. As J.P. Morgan Asset Management recently observed, “flaring is a problem with multiple solutions and a compelling long-term economic proposition.”

As industry, investors and Texas regulators begin to acknowledge the problem, how can shareholders support management teams’ continuous improvement and understand which operators are getting it right and which are not keeping pace?

Asking the right questions through shareholder engagement is a good place to start.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Texas / Comments are closed

New multi-state collaboration makes an important commitment to electric trucks and buses

As our nation grapples with a historic public health crisis, 15 states and the District of Columbia are showing leadership by committing to address a dangerous culprit that makes us more vulnerable to COVID-19 and climate change: diesel pollution from trucks and buses.

These pollutants have significant negative consequences on air quality and health. Despite comprising just 10% of vehicles on the road across the U.S., trucks and buses are responsible for 57% of fine particulate matter, 45% of oxides of nitrogen and 28% of greenhouse gas emissions for that sector.

Besides increased planetary warming, pollution from diesel vehicles leads to a higher rate of asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths — ailments that disproportionately affect people of color and disadvantaged communities, which often border freight corridors, ports and depots. A growing body of evidence suggests that people with respiratory illnesses, often caused or exacerbated by transportation-related pollution, are more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Colorado, Electric Vehicles, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Washington, DC / Tagged | Comments are closed