Busy in the Beehive: Utah joins growing list of states tackling oil and gas pollution

Ozone pollution — also known as smog — is a growing problem in Utah, both in the state’s urban areas and in largely rural regions where oil and gas development has been directly tied to unhealthy air.

That’s why new draft rules for oil and gas emissions released yesterday are a breath of fresh air for the Beehive State.

These new standards are designed to reduce the amount of smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution emitted from both new and existing oil and gas sites across Utah. If strengthened and finalized as soon as possible, these rules will help limit Utah’s smog problem and protect Utah families from asthma attacks, respiratory problems and other health issues. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

New report: Clean tech boosts electric grid as coal use declines

By Rama Zakaria

new report by M.J. Bradley & Associates shows that coal-fired power plants are retiring primarily due to low natural gas prices and flattened demand, and that cleaner energy keeps our electric grid reliable.

The report estimates that coal plant closures caused less than 20 percent of the overall decline in coal generation over the past six years, and it affirms a recent Department of Energy (DOE) finding that the major driver behind U.S. coal plant closures is economics – namely, cheap natural gas. M.J. Bradley’s report also shows that new clean tech may enable the grid to begin performing better than ever.

Major findings

The M.J Bradley report confirms conclusions by multiple studies that show these are the three main factors that caused coal to decline:

  • Increased competition from cheap natural gas – accounting for 49 percent of the decline,
  • Reduced demand for electricity – accounting for 26 percent, and
  • Increased growth in renewable energy – accounting for 18 percent.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

Natural gas, meet Silicon Valley. The challenge for mobile methane monitoring is now underway

 Ben Ratner and Ramon Alvarez, Ph.D. 

Three years ago, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) united with oil and gas industry leaders including Shell and Statoil to launch the Methane Detectors Challenge – a collaborative effort to catalyze the development and deployment of stationary, continuous methane monitors. With industry pilot projects now cropping up from Texas to Alberta, continuous methane monitoring on natural gas sites is on a pathway to become one of the core tools in the monitoring toolkit.

And that’s a good thing – 24/7 monitoring is the gold standard for emissions control, opening a new frontier in site-level insight. It will enable real time identification and repair of natural gas waste that pollutes the atmosphere, and the industry’s own reputation.

Now, another exciting area of innovation is emerging, as entrepreneurs, technologists, and academics pursue mobile approaches to monitor leaks. Whether by plane, helicopter, drone or truck, mobile monitoring offers the promise of surveying highly dispersed industrial facilities – including smaller and older ones – quickly and effectively. With an estimated one million well pads in the United States alone, the speed and coverage of monitoring matter. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

California’s new methane leakage requirements for gas utilities are already delivering benefits

EDF Schneider fellow Scott Roycroft co-authored this post

California’s gas utilities have had their share of problems in recent years – so improvements in environmental impacts, operations, and safety are important to track.

In 2014, the California legislature passed a law to require utility companies to publicly disclose data on gas leaks and emissions while working to actually cut those emissions.  Now, three years later, utility reporting has been standardized, an emissions trend has emerged, and the results are significant.

Graphic 1: A depiction of the volume of methane emissions from California utilities between 2015 and 2016. Emissions from the Aliso Canyon blowout are shown as a separate category.

Read More »

Posted in California, Climate, Data Access, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

New study reveals gaps in the methods used to assess chemicals in oilfield wastewater

A new study led by researchers with Colorado School of Mines exposes limitations with the current methods used to detect chemicals in oilfield wastewater and offers solutions to help regulators make better decisions for managing this waste stream.

Oilfield wastewater is extremely salty and can contain multiple combinations of many potentially harmful chemicals (approximately 1600 on a national basis). However, most standard or approved analytical methods available to regulators were designed to work with fresh water. Because oil and gas wastewater is so salty—sometimes 10 times saltier than seawater or more—chemists often have to dilute wastewater samples to manage the high salt content.

This means they may also be diluting chemicals of concern to concentrations too low to detect, even though they may be present at risky levels. For example, benzene is a chemical associated with petroleum hydrocarbons and a known carcinogen. It also has a drinking water standard of 5 parts per billion – that’s 5 cents in 10 million dollars. It really doesn’t take much dilution of a sample to lose that level of precision. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas, produced water, produced water| Tagged | Comments are closed

New utility settlement will unlock millions in clean energy funding for Ohio

Enhancing EV infrastructure is one of the many ways AEP's new settlement advances clean energy.

AEP, one of Ohio’s largest utilities, just reached an exciting new milestone that takes the state further down the path to a clean energy economy.

The utility has reached a settlement that will unlock millions in funding, lower pollution, avoid unnecessary electricity bill increases, and provide customers with more clean energy options.

New benefits

In AEP’s recent electric security plan case (a process that sets generation rates charged to customers) through 2024, the utility, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), and others have reached a settlement that includes the following:

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Ohio| Comments are closed
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