Fatal Flaws In EPA’s Latest Voluntary Methane Program Highlight Need For Concrete Rules

Barn snip 3The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program unveiled last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a perfect example of what can go wrong when the agency tries too hard to entice an unwilling industry to engage.

For years, EPA has offered voluntary “pollution prevention” programs to encourage companies to achieve environmental goals faster or cheaper than they might under regulations alone. Done right, voluntary programs stimulate innovation and reward true leaders. But weak efforts accomplish nothing, handing out laurels for token efforts that amount to business as usual – or less.

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3 Ways to Improve California’s Time-Of-Use Electricity Pilots

Jay Godwin photo - 07/31/2015 Location: The Mueller community in Austin, Texas. Caption: Mueller resident Dennis Nick is a Pecan Street program participant. He has solar collectors on his roof and an electric car in his garage. Information about his energy use can be accessed through mobile apps and on the web.California’s big three utilities – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE) – serve approximately 80 percent of the state's residential customers, which is why their recent move to update the state’s antiquated electricity pricing could be a game-changer for helping the state achieve its climate and clean energy goals.

In late December, while most people were on holiday, the utilities submitted plans to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to assess electricity prices that vary with the season and time of day. These plans detail the next two years of piloting time-of-use (TOU) pricing for most residential customers, and will help California reduce pollution and increase renewable energy production. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Financing, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

2016 Starts With Growing Momentum To Cut Oil And Gas Methane Pollution

Logo_PDD_2016.svg (1)We’re less than a month into 2016, and there are already signs that this could be the year the United States finally gets serious about addressing methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.

Some strong first steps in 2015 got the ball rolling, and now attention-grabbing events like the massive methane leak in Southern California and the announcement that 2015 was the warmest year on record are opening people’s eyes to the urgency of tackling this potent climate-forcing pollution.

Great Strides Made in 2015

Many important first steps to curb oil and gas methane pollution were taken in 2015, most notably, the Obama administration setting a goal of reducing this pollution 40 to 45 percent by 2025. To help achieve this goal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August proposed a national methane emissions standard for newly built oil and gas sources. Read More »

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The Supreme Court Decides in Favor of a Critical Clean Energy Resource: Demand Response

rp_640px-Oblique_facade_2_US_Supreme_Court.jpgYesterday, the Supreme Court issued an important decision in support of a vital clean energy resource: demand response. The case, FERC v. EPSA, revolves around demand response, a resource that helps keep prices low and the lights on, all while being environmentally friendly.

It’s a significant victory for anyone in favor of a cleaner, cheaper, accessible, and more reliable grid. That describes a diverse group — consumer advocates, environmentalists, economists, states, grid operators, and leading legal scholars all filed in support of a critically important and well-designed policy creating access for demand response in wholesale energy markets. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

BLM Tackles Waste, Methane Pollution on Federal and Tribal Lands

FrackingWyo_92689731_RFIn an important step forward in curbing methane emissions from the nation’s oil and gas sector, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced a regulatory proposal aimed at wasteful practices that shortchange taxpayers, squander energy resources and threaten the Earth’s climate.  The proposal, which will apply to both new and existing oil and gas facilities, begins to fill an important gap left by the EPA in August when that agency proposed to reduce emissions only from future facilities, ignoring the millions of oil and gas emissions sources already in operation.

Oil and gas companies that operate on our nation’s federal and tribal lands are exploiting a resource that belongs to the public and the Native American tribes.  These operators should be held to the highest standards when it comes to avoiding the waste of the resource and minimizing the pollution from their activities.

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Pennsylvania Announces Plan for Strongest Methane Rules in the Nation

(From left to right) John Quigley, Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environment Protection, joins Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at a Facebook town hall event Jan. 19 to announce plans to regulate methane emissions from the state's oil and gas industry.

(From left to right)
John Quigley, Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environment Protection, joins Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at a Facebook town hall event Jan. 19 to announce plans to regulate methane emissions from the state's oil and gas industry.

Pennsylvania leaders have a duty to protect Keystone residents from oil and gas pollution.  Fortunately, Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection  took an important step in that direction this week when they released a blueprint for cutting methane pollution from the natural gas industry.

“The goal here is to cover not only new sources of methane and VOC emissions [from oil and gas facilities], but also existing sources over time,” DEP Secretary John Quigley told hundreds of viewers during a live Facebook town hall event yesterday. “We want to have a comprehensive emissions program that is nation-leading. I think it’s the strongest set of provisions in the country, and I think the number two natural gas producing state in the nation should have the best regulations. That’s what we’re going to have in Pennsylvania.”

That’s a bold and laudable commitment – one that deserves our support to help make sure the promise becomes reality. Read More »

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