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Here we go again.
A new set of peer-reviewed scientific papers pointing to 50 percent higher than estimated regional methane emissions from oil and gas operations in Texas were published this week. And like clockwork, the oil and gas industry’s public relations machine, Energy In Depth, proclaimed that rising emissions are actually falling, and that the industry’s meager voluntary efforts are responsible.
This is, of course, wrong on both counts. In fact, it’s a willful misrepresentation of the findings.
First, the assertion that emissions are going down is flat wrong. EPA’s latest inventory released in April reports that in 2013 the oil and gas industry released more than 7.3 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere from their operations—a three percent increase over 2012—making it the largest industrial source of methane pollution. So much for those voluntary efforts. Read More
Methane emissions from vast oil and gas operations in the densely populated Barnett Shale region of Texas are 50 percent higher than estimates based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas inventory, according to a series of 11 new papers published today in Environmental Science & Technology.
The majority of these emissions are from a small but widespread number of sources across the region’s oil and gas supply chain. These emissions come from the sort of leaks and equipment malfunctions that are relatively easy to prevent with proper and frequent monitoring and repair practices.
The sprawling Barnett region, fanning out westward from the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, contains about 30,000 oil and gas wells, 275 compressor stations, and 40 processing plants. It is one of the country’s largest production areas, responsible for 7 percent of total U.S. natural gas output.
Unpredictable, Widespread Sources Dominate Read More
Last Friday, the incoming head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Faith Birol, provided a briefing to U.S. stakeholders about IEA’s new special report on climate change, which found that global emissions could peak by the end of this decade without reducing economic growth. The report outlines five key pillars for turning the emissions corner by 2020, and importantly, one of the pillars is reducing methane from the oil and gas sector. The report‘s finding that the scale of potential reductions from oil and gas methane is about the same as the reductions from renewable energy underscores the impact that action on methane can have.
IEA’s report is the latest in a stream of recent analyses illustrating the enormous potential for methane reductions to slow climate change. This is because methane has such a powerful short-term impact on the climate, with 84 times more warming power than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeline. And, the report also highlights the significant opportunity that exists in implementing cost-effective, commonsense measures to cut these emissions, which many governments and companies have not yet taken advantage of. Read More
California public school teachers. Religious charities. New York police officers and firefighters.
What do all of these groups have in common? Investors representing them — who manage $1.5 trillion in retirees, current employees’, and others assets – are standing together and calling for strong rules limiting harmful methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. This level of outpouring – from diversified investors with holdings in the oil and gas industry – represents five times the support investors expressed for methane rules last year. A trend is emerging.
The investors, including the largest retirement funds in California and New York, issued a powerful statement in support of the president’s methane proposal aimed at cutting emissions nearly in half in a decade. A centerpiece is regulation of methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, which has over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it’s released and is responsible for 25 percent of the warming we are feeling today. Read More
Each month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.
Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in July:
July 12-15: NARUC Summer Committee Meetings (New York, NY)
Speaker: N. Jonathan Peress, Air Policy Director – Natural Gas
- The NARUC Summer Committee Meetings are an opportunity to meet with utility regulators from every State in the U.S., along with federal and international officials. Meetings topics include the latest in regulatory trends and best practices within utility sectors, including electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, and water.
By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant
A few days ago, economists from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley released a study that called into question the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency. The study was based on the team’s analysis of energy savings shortfalls in the Michigan low income Weatherization Assistance Program. Since then, a host of articles have used the study’s results to call into question the value of utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs.
While this study did raise some thought-provoking points, it also contained biased assumptions and reached conclusions that far exceed its scope, lumping together market-based efficiency with low-income weatherization programs. Read More