Energy Exchange

What ALA’s most recent State of the Air Report reveals about oil and gas air pollution in the Western U.S.

The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air Report today, revealing what many communities have known for quite some time: air pollution from oil and gas operations is a growing concern.

Air pollution has often been a challenge for highly-populated areas of the United States, but it is an issue rural communities have largely been able to avoid. However, that seems to be changing according to the ALA’s findings.  La Plata County in Colorado and Duchesne and Uintah counties in Utah all received an “F” grade due to high levels of ozone.  None has a population over 60,000 people, but each is home to significant amounts of oil and gas production.

Read More »

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

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.

Read More »

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

You Can’t Argue With Math: BLM’s Methane Rules Enjoy Strong and Diverse Support

BLMsupportThese numbers don’t lie. They represent the strong support new methane waste and pollution reduction rules from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management enjoy across the west. Methane is a potent climate pollutant and the main constituent of natural gas, so when oil and gas companies on public land allow  methane to be leaked, burned or vented to the atmosphere, it not only impacts air quality and our climate, it also represents an economic loss to taxpayers.

Here’s how this math adds up to a win for taxpayers, public health and the climate. Read More »

Also posted in BLM Methane, Climate, Colorado, Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged , | Read 3 Responses

Wyoming Proposal to Curb Venting and Flaring Needs Work

flaringWhen operators pull oil out of the ground, it often comes up with copious amounts of natural gas.  This “associated gas” can be captured and brought to market, creating an additional revenue source for operators.  But if no gathering infrastructure or other methods of capture are deployed, operators either vent the gas to the atmosphere or burn it off with controlled flares. Venting results in the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Flaring results in troublesome emissions as well, including CO2 and hazardous air pollutants.

According to the Wyoming Oil and gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC), Wyoming’s oil and gas operators vented and flared more than five billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014.  Five billion cubic feet of gas that could be sold to generate taxes and royalties, heat homes and power machinery across the country, instead was wasted. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas / Tagged , | Comments are closed

Get 'er Done: Wyoming Needs to Complete the Job on Oil and Gas Air Pollution

FrackingWyo_92689731_RFWyoming has worked to build a reputation as a leader on strong, sensible requirements to limit air pollution from oil and gas development. The state was among the first to require measures to limit pollution from newly drilled oil and gas wells (so-called “green completions”) and has been diligent in recent years to create one of the nation’s best leak detection and repair programs in the Upper Green River Basin (UGRB), a portion of the state that had been plagued with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Historically, Wyoming hasn’t waited for federal regulations, it has helped blaze the trail and let others follow.

That is what makes the state’s proposal for new statewide oil and gas air quality requirements disappointing. Wyoming is now looking at ways to reduce oil and gas emissions statewide and the state’s Air Quality Advisory Board will consider new requirements at a hearing in Cheyenne tomorrow—but frequent inspections to find and fix leaks are completely absent from the proposal. This is a problem we hope the state will quickly solve. Read More »

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

Big Oil and Gas Emissions out West – New Report Sizes Up Methane Problem on Federal and Tribal Lands

US-DOI-BLM-logoThe American West is home to the vast majority of the nation’s federal and tribal lands, which account for well over half of the total land area of several Western states. And, the Western states are also significant centers of domestic oil and gas production, contributing 80 to 90 percent of total federal and tribal production.

Now, a new report estimates that fugitive and vented losses from oil and natural gas operations on federal and tribal lands amounted to over 65 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas in 2013, representing over 1 million metric tons of harmful methane pollution.

The report, released this week by the independent consultancy ICF International and commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund, looks at oil and gas development on federal and tribal lands —specifically, emissions from gas that is leaked, vented, or flared every year.

Oil and gas emissions matter. Excessive venting, flaring and leaking of gas can degrade regional air quality. Moreover, natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In addition to the emissions associated with these activities, we believe venting, flaring and leaking of natural gas represents the wasteful loss of a finite and valuable natural resource.

Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Colorado, Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged , , , , , , | Read 1 Response