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As Permian drilling booms, will the Texas Railroad Commission stand against wasted gas?

This piece originally appeared as an op-ed in the Midland Reporter-Telegram

The West Texas Permian oilfield is poised for rapid development in the next decade; the Energy Information Administration projects oil production in the Permian could grow 60 percent by the year 2030. But oil wells in Texas’ Permian Basin don’t just pump oil, they also produce large amounts of natural gas – which many companies aren’t equipped to handle.

That is posing a problem for Texas, as producers run out of capacity to move associated gas to market. Without reasonable action from the state’s oil and gas regulator, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), producers could resort to simply burning away excess gas – something we’ve seen in other oil fields where gas is not the primary production target.

This process, also known as flaring, is a recipe for widespread waste and pollution.

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Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

In Permian, company leadership and state standards are critical for reducing oil and gas methane emissions

By Jon Goldstein and Colin Leyden 

This May, ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company, announced targets to limit methane waste from its global operations. We’ve also seen commitments to cut methane from a range of leading companies like BP and others.

But as more companies step forward with methane targets, it begs the question: Is voluntary action from companies enough to move the needle on methane? A look at what could become the world’s largest oil field points to the answer being a solid no. Read More »

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

Permian a litmus test for oil and gas industry’s methane targets

This blog was co-authored by Jon Goldstein and Colin Leyden.

What may be becoming the world’s largest oil field may also be the world’s largest test for the oil and gas industry’s commitments to setting targets for driving down methane emissions.

Several major oil and gas producers, including BP and XTO, have announced strategies in recent months to limit methane emissions. And several more including Shell, Pemex and Statoil have committed to a near-zero methane future and announced plans to release reduction targets this fall.

Read More »

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

Closing the information gap on Texans’ energy burdens

As summer approaches in Texas, it may be hard to recall that just this January, temperatures hovered at or below freezing for as long as 64 straight hours. Texans used the most electricity ever over the course of one hour, setting a record in energy use as people reached for their thermostats and cranked the heat. For some in the state, however, this was simply not an option.

People in the lowest income brackets regularly have to choose between keeping their homes at a comfortable temperature and other everyday necessities, like putting food on the table – especially in a state like Texas with extreme temperatures. Low-income households that heat with electricity spend four times more on utility bills, as a percent of their income, compared to the average American. This “energy burden” (the percent of a person’s income spent on energy) highlights the devastating reality that many people face, as well as presents an opportunity for cleaner, smarter energy to help lower electricity bills.

Enter the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute, or TEPRI, a nonprofit organization seeking to first understand the burden that energy costs place on low-income households, and then propose practical, equitable solutions. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is proudly partnering with TEPRI to advance this mission, starting with conducting a sociodemographic study to provide a detailed understanding of Texans with low incomes and their relationship to energy. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Equity / Comments are closed

Boosting power grid resilience with pre-storm community planning and business investments

By Ronny Sandoval, Kate Zerrenner

Eight months after Hurricane Harvey, affected communities are still rebuilding their lives and businesses.

One area that hasn’t required as much attention to rebuild: Texas’ electricity grid. Shortly after the storm, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s main grid operator, said, “The ERCOT grid has remained stable, and competitive electricity markets have continued to operate normally.” That said, nearly 300,000 consumers were without power during the storm’s peak. Therefore, the state’s electricity restoration after Harvey is a story of resilience – and an opportunity to do better the next time around.

Though the impact and $125 billion in damages that Harvey caused were catastrophic, some of the investments and decisions made in Texas well before the storm allowed for faster restoration of power than would have been the case just a few years prior. Plus, renewable energy resources like wind turbines and solar panels can play a role in strengthening grid resilience. Investments in modern technologies – like digital controls, microgrids, and distributed energy – hold the keys to protecting people in towns and cities most susceptible to future powerful storms, and they provide insights for how Texas can prepare for the next power disruption. Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

How this 300-year-old city is leading on U.S. solar, energy-water, and climate action

By Kate Zerrenner, Jaclyn Rambarran

On May 5, 2018, the city of San Antonio will officially be 300 years old! On that day in 1718, the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar (a Spanish fort) was founded. The city’s tricentennial celebration will culminate in a weeklong celebration of history, art, and culture the first week of May.

San Antonio is a unique place that should be honored in Texas and beyond. In addition to its strong Hispanic heritage, the city boasts a large military population, straddles the border between eastern, western, and southern U.S., and claims to be the birthplace of breakfast tacos.

This growing city also has a powerful role to play in the future of Texas and the United States in terms of climate change and air quality, as evidenced by its initiatives around renewable energy, the energy-water nexus, and climate action. With all this in mind, let’s take a moment to celebrate not just San Antonio’s momentous birthday, but also its impressive efforts to ensure the sustainability of the city going forward. Read More »

Also posted in Energy-Water Nexus / Comments are closed