Selected category: General

New Reports Raise Health Concerns About Emissions From California’s Oil and Gas Industry

For decades communities in California who live close to oil and gas facilities have reported experiencing unbearable odors of gas, headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, and even cardiac complications as a result of the industry’s emissions. The health impacts of oil and gas pollution were made crystal clear last year after a massive gas leak at a Southern California storage facility led to mass hospitalizations and forced hundreds of families to evacuate their homes.

But massive gas leaks like the one at Aliso Canyon aren’t the only cause for alarm. A string of new reports confirm what many concerned communities have known for years: oil and gas emissions from across the entire supply chain can wreak havoc on our health, and are often higher than experts previously thought. Read More »

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States Underscore U.S. Methane Momentum, Latest Reason for Canada to Press Ahead

U.S. states are accelerating steps to reduce oil and gas air pollution. Just last week Ohio – which has a Republican Governor, and Republican-controlled Senate and House – joined the list of states targeting oil and gas emissions with a new methane policy that requires operators to check for leaks at compressor stations four times a year. Showing that it’s not a matter of politics, but smart policy to require oil and gas companies to regularly inspect for and repair leaky equipment.

At the same time, Canada is developing its own requirements to cut oil and gas methane emissions by 45 percent, an effort that some in industry are resisting over concerns of possible U.S. federal policy changes. But Canada needs to keep its eyes on the states where action has taken hold for good reason.

Methane, a powerful pollutant, has emerged as a key energy and environmental challenge.

Natural gas is mostly methane. When it leaks and is vented from thousands of oil and gas facilities, methane loss to the atmosphere is wasted energy that hurts not only businesses but local economies. Read More »

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REPORT: CA Utilities Are Leaking Lots of Gas – but There’s a Way to Stop It

A new report confirms with greater accuracy than ever before that California natural gas utilities are letting huge amounts of their product escape into the atmosphere – about 6.6 billion cubic feet in 2015. That’s more than the amount of gas released during last year’s Aliso Canyon disaster, and over twice the total loss from all of the state’s oil and gas wells.

These huge gas losses are a major environmental problem. Methane – the main ingredient in natural gas – is a potent climate pollutant.  Leaks and other emissions from California utilities in 2015 have the same climate impact as burning more than 1 billion gallons of gasoline.

Where the data comes from and what it means

In 2014 California passed SB 1371, a new law requiring utilities to reduce methane emissions. This new report is based on emissions data collected under that law.  Read More »

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Looking to the States to Improve Natural Gas Storage Policies

Stories about gas storage rarely make headlines, but the fact is there are hundreds of underground natural gas storage facilities peppered across the country, and when something goes wrong, the impacts can be devastating. For example, in 2015 a leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Southern California ended up displacing thousands from their homes and was considered one of the biggest environmental disasters in modern U.S. history.

Historically, state agencies have been responsible for regulating these facilities – resulting in a patchwork of protections. But after Aliso Canyon, the federal government stepped in to provide uniform safety standards applicable across the country. Read More »

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EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Makes Progress but Misses Forest for Trees

In its draft 2017 GHG inventory, published this week, the EPA estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas industry were lower than their previous estimate in the 2016 inventory.

The vast majority of the decrease comes from methodological changes in how EPA does these estimates and does not represent actual reductions from improved industry practices. We expect to see fluctuation in EPA estimates in future inventories as the agency continues to revise their accounting methods; this inventory should not be viewed as the final answer. But, to see the actual trend in emissions, you should compare 2015 emissions to their updated estimate of 2014 emissions, not the estimate from last year’s inventory. EPA estimates a mere 2% reduction in actual emissions, largely attributable to reduced drilling activity and well completions, which is a result of lower oil and gas prices in 2015. This points to the importance of recently enacted regulations, like the EPA NSPS and BLM rule, to drive the much greater reductions needed to minimize waste and the climate impacts of oil and gas. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Congressional Review Act: A Law of Unintended and Long-Lasting Consequences

3802348922_e99184a252_bBy Carol Andress, Director of Legislative Operations, Climate & Air

With legislation flying fast and furious through the Capitol – much of it using new or unusual legal mechanisms – lawmakers today must be doubly mindful of unintended consequences. Case in point: Actions rushed through the House and Senate under an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the details of which can cause deeper, more lasting impact than the simple name implies.

The CRA dates to the 1990s. It says that any rule finalized by a federal agency can be subject to an expedited congressional repeal for 60 legislative days after the agency sends up a copy of the final rule and a report detailing the reasons for its promulgation. Within that window, either chamber can introduce a joint resolution of disapproval – which, if passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, effectively voids the rule.

The law sounds simple enough. But it leaves a lot of room for error or mischief. Read More »

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