Selected category: General

Texas should listen to its own scientific task force about methane

Map of Texas oil and gas wells that would have been covered under recently-delayed EPA methane rules.

This post originally appeared on TribTalk.org

new report from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) Shale Task Force underscores the problem of methane emissions from Texas’ oil and gas industry.

When burned, natural gas has about half the CO2 emissions of coal (that’s good!), but the release of methane into the atmosphere can greatly erode that benefit. TAMEST explains that methane leak rates can greatly impact the overall greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas and reduce the benefit of burning natural gas versus coal. As TAMEST puts it, “Although the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas combustion is lower than the footprint associated with coal or petroleum combustion, emissions along the supply chain of natural gas can change this footprint.”

The report notes that when industry emits methane, it also emits other hazardous air pollutants that could jeopardize public health — and calls for more research to better understand how these emissions could be harming communities near oil and gas developments. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, Texas| Comments are closed

What will FERC do in wake of increasingly affordable electricity prices?

Electricity is becoming increasingly affordable throughout the United States. This fact was not lost on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the entity charged with overseeing our interstate electricity grid, during a Technical Conference held last month.

Although the Conference was initially organized to focus on how regional electricity markets and state public policies interact, it became clear over the two-day long event that more fundamental questions were on the minds of many participants. Most significantly, for generators, was the question of cost.  Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing| Read 2 Responses

Questions in EPA Inspector General letter are narrow, have been asked and answered before

The questions the EPA Inspector General appears to be interested in are ones that have been widely and publicly addressed over the past three years, including in peer-reviewed scientific literature. For reference, see our blog posts from here (December 9, 2016), here (June 9, 2016), and here (March 9, 2015).

The most important thing to understand is that there is an extensive body of scientific research, including substantial research produced just over the last four years documenting the significant problem of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, of which the two studies cited in the IG letter are just a small part. Together, this body of research presents a clear and compelling picture of the magnitude of the methane emissions problem in the U.S. and the urgent need for action to address it.

For example, EDF has helped coordinate 16 different research projects looking at emissions from on the ground and in the air. So far 33 peer-reviewed papers have been published on those projects. More than 35 different research institutions and over 120 individual co-authors have been involved in the work published to date. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

When Trump’s agencies undermine small businesses supporting responsible energy

Every physician would tell you that regular check-ups are important for your health, to catch problems before they become big issues, and to let you know that everything is in working order. Regular check-ups are also important for the oil and natural gas industry, whose leading actors benefit from periodic site inspections for natural gas leaks, which let product go to waste and pollute the air our families breathe.

Unfortunately, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt slammed the brakes on these regular check-ups for methane emissions (the main component of natural gas), when EPA announced its intention to freeze for two years safeguards that include a national standard for twice annual leak detection inspections at new well pads. And mere hours later, the Bureau of Land Management suspended waste prevention standards on federal and tribal lands. While these actions might initially be popular among some in the oil & gas community in Texas, the long-term repercussions will be severe.

With commodity prices recovering and a wave of development expected in the Permian Basin, the leak detection requirements were to take effect in time to support responsible development of new resources. Read More »

Also posted in BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Two fundamental EPA climate programs survive EPA cuts, but budget still required to track and mitigate U.S. emissions

The federal administration’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA are devastating. Nearly all climate-related programs are proposed to be cut or greatly reduced, including the popular ENERGY STAR program.

Yet two critical climate EPA programs have maintained partial funding in the current proposal – the Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) and Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).  These programs provide critical reports each year outlining U.S. man-made greenhouse emissions across the country. These informative reports are vital to the energy sector and our regional climate initiatives and must be preserved by this and future federal administrations.

If we are not measuring and tracking our annual output of greenhouse gases, our ability to verifiably reduce our emissions becomes severely impaired. Our country – along with public and industry stakeholders across the work –needs access to this U.S. data each year in order to understand patterns and trends in greenhouse gas emissions.  Transparent reporting of GHG data can help hold emitters publicly accountable and facilitate emission reductions. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Ohio pipeline spill underscores the need for strong regulation and oversight

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the same company responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline, just spilled millions of gallons of drilling sludge into an Ohio wetland – but don’t worry, they say everything is “safe.”

Craig Butler, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency called the company’s response “dismissive,” and “exceptionally disappointing,” and he’s right.

Fortunately, federal and state regulators have stepped up to hold ETP accountable.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered ETP to halt plans to continue with other pipeline drilling projects in the area and to double the number of environmental inspectors on its payroll.  And the Ohio EPA fined ETP $400,000 for the damage caused by this spill, damage that OEPA says could be deadly and last for decades. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged | Comments are closed
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