Energy Exchange

As Texas fails to stop flaring, EPA must act

Routine flaring in Texas is, well, too routine. It’s wasteful, harmful for health and the climate, and getting permission to burn gas instead of finding a productive use for it is far too easy in our state. Over 1 trillion cubic feet of Texas gas have been vented or flared by operators in the past decade — as much gas as 14 million Texas households use in an entire year.

Under mounting pressure from investors, communities and oil and gas operators, factions of industry have made recent public commitments to reduce this wasteful practice. For example, the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition announced a collective goal to end routine flaring in Texas by 2030.

This may sound like progress, but in reality it’s yet another decade of wasteful flaring and a pledge that comes with no commitment to the regulatory changes vital to make it happen statewide. We can’t wait that long.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, New Mexico, Texas / Comments are closed

With oil and gas pollution rules restored, what’s next for EPA on methane?

Last month, President Biden signed into law S.J. Res. 14, a Congressional Review Act resolution restoring methane pollution standards for the oil and gas sector by repealing Trump-era rollbacks. With bipartisan backing, Congress passed the measure and rejected the Trump administration’s dangerous weakening of methane protections and its unlawful attempt to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from setting stronger standards in the future.

With these protections restored, this fall EPA will propose additional standards for both new and existing sources of methane emissions.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

Annular pressure monitoring and testing makes for safer wells

There are nearly a million active oil and gas wells in the United States, and if not correctly designed and maintained, they can leak harmful substances that will irreversibly pollute our land, air and water.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at data from over 100,000 wells and estimates that at least 14% experienced some loss of integrity, which could indicate a leak.

The study’s authors were able to determine the functionality and health of these wells based on data collected from annular pressure tests. In fact, the study analyzed almost 500,000 pressure tests conducted across three different basins — one of the largest studies of well integrity conducted to date.

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Also posted in California, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

Colorado’s landmark methane rules raise bar for federal climate action

Last month, Colorado regulators unanimously adopted nation-leading rules to cut methane pollution from pneumatic devices, an often overlooked but significant source of emissions from oil and gas production.

The commonsense standards drew support from the oil and gas industry and Colorado’s environmental community, and will require the use of modern, zero-emitting components at all new and most existing facilities statewide.  In 2019 EDF helped secure adoption of rules that require operators to find and fix malfunctioning pneumatic devices during their required leak detection and repair inspections.

As the Biden administration moves to get methane regulation back on track at the federal level, it should take note of the progress being made in Colorado. Robust federal methane regulations, identified as a priority in the president’s Jan. 20 executive order, will depend on these kinds of commonsense, high-impact solutions.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

What our climate goals mean for natural gas, and what states should do about it

The transition to a low-carbon economy will have a big impact on the way we think about natural gas: how we produce, use and transport it. One area where this challenge is particularly acute is the state regulatory frameworks governing gas utilities across the country, and in particular, how those rules line up against the climate goals now being set by a growing number of states.

States that don’t re-envision the way their gas utility systems run will be challenged to meet their climate targets. To help states avoid that fate, EDF has developed a new guide suggesting ways that state regulators can navigate this complex challenge.

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Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Gas to Clean, Natural Gas, New York / Comments are closed

Two chemicals that remind us why we should exercise caution with the oil industry’s wastewater

Over the past few years, we’ve written a lot about the wastewater generated from oil and gas production — specifically, how little is known about what’s in it and the potential risks of exposure.

But as states try to set standards for how to safely treat and dispose of this waste, there are two chemicals in particular that deserve to be among the regulatory priorities.

The first is a class of synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — PFAS for short. Members of this class, often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are highly persistent in the environment, are known to cause adverse health impacts in humans. This can include a range of symptoms, including damage to the immune system, low infant birth weights and cancer.

The second chemical is 1,4-dioxane. Short-term exposure to this carcinogen can cause immediate health impacts, like eye, nose and throat irritation and impaired lung function. Prolonged exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage, as well as cancer.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed