Selected tags: EPA

Why America Needs Methane Policy

Methane policy

Source: Ron Dahlquist, Getty Images

Recently, the White House took a crucial stride to tackle methane pollution and natural gas waste. A key aspect of the strategy tasks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with enacting policy to reduce emissions from the oil and gas industry. Yesterday, EPA formally initiated its process, issuing five white papers focused on the biggest opportunities to cut the industry’s methane emissions. A final decision for action is expected later this year.

The Administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions is an urgently needed development to slow the rate of climate change in our lifetimes. That’s because methane is an incredibly powerful and climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas. Whether you’re a concerned citizen who wants better protections from pollution, an individual compelled to see the U.S. do more to defend the people and places most vulnerable to global climate change, or an energy watchdog who wants to minimize needless waste—know that solutions are within our grasp.

Let’s look at a key piece of the process that the White House galvanized and that EPA has now started to carry forward. EPA’s white papers provide thorough, technical assessment of oil and gas methane emission sources and mitigation technologies, and they provide the factual basis to support policy action. The process requests feedback from the public and a range of expert stakeholders that will help EPA answer:  Is now the time to create a real methane policy for oil and gas? I am optimistic the answer will be a resounding “YES.”

Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane | Tagged | 1 Response

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Pollution Standards: Double Dividends for Climate and Consumers

carbonelltomasThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has embarked on a vital effort — accompanied by extensive outreach to states, power companies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders, including you — to establish the nation’s first limits on carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

EPA was directed to take this critical step for public health and the environment in the President’s Climate Action Plan that was released last summer. Protective and well-designed Carbon Pollution Standards will provide important benefits for all Americans.

Fossil fuel-fired power plants emit 40 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution, as well as significant amounts of mercury, acid gases, and pollutants that contribute to smog and particulates. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Energy Efficiency | Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

Practical Air Pollution Controls Even the Oil and Gas Industry Can't Deny

This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.

methane_animation_still-1_0Everyone knows that if you want your kids to grow up strong and healthy, they need to eat their vegetables. But as any parent knows, it’s easier said than done. That’s why in my house, there is a rule: you can’t have any dessert until you eat your vegetables.

Now, of course, my kids like to argue with me and my wife about exactly how many vegetables they have to eat and whether they can reach into the fridge and select a different vegetable if they don’t like the one she or I cooked that night. That’s okay. We like to encourage creative problem solving. But there’s no getting around the rule. You must eat your vegetables.

As I see it, methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is a lot like kids and vegetables. Reducing it is good for them, but we have to have a rule that requires them to do it. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Colorado, Methane, Natural Gas | Also tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

A New Study Measures Methane Leaks In The Natural Gas Industry

This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.

Source: Penn State Outreach/flickr

Earlier this week, a prestigious scientific journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published “Measurements of methane emissions at natural gas production sites in the United States.”  This study is the first in a comprehensive research initiative that Environmental Defense Fund is helping to produce with more than 90 partner universities, scientists, research facilities and natural gas industry companies. This effort, the largest scientific undertaking in EDF’s history, is an unprecedented attempt to measure where and how much methane is being released across the entire natural gas supply chain.

By the time the work is finished, around the end of 2014, scientists working with EDF will have completed sixteen studies characterizing methane emissions in five key areas of the natural gas system: production, gathering and processing,transmission and storagelocal distribution and use in operating and fueling heavy and medium weight trucks.

The study that published Monday was led by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and is based on some of the first-ever direct measurements of methane emissions from shale gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas, Texas | Also tagged , , | Comments closed

National Clean Air Standards For The Oil And Gas Industry Provide A Trifecta

By: Peter Zalzal, EDF Staff Attorney, Climate & Air

Rigorous National Clean Air Standards for the Oil and Gas Industry are Needed to Protect the Health of Americans and our Communities

On April 3rd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is due to finalize critically important standards to reduce harmful air pollution from oil and gas activities.  These standards are a trifecta: they protect human health and the environment, reduce waste of an important domestic energy source and save industry money through sales of recovered natural gas product.  For too long the industry has operated under insufficient, outdated standards that fail to protect Americans from the dangerous air pollution produced by oil and gas activities.

EPA’s proposed emission standards, which require companies to implement more efficient practices and technologies, will provide much-needed protections for human health and the environment and prevent extensive waste of a domestic energy resource.  In fact, these proposed measures will save approximately 180 billion cubic feet of natural gas, comparable to the amount of gas needed to provide heat to 2.7 million American homes for a year.    

Oil and gas facilities contribute to high levels of toxic air contaminants, ground-level ozone ("smog") and methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  Ground-level ozone has been linked to serious respiratory illnesses, including asthma in children and premature death.  High levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, have been detected at locations in Texas and Colorado. 

Major public health groups including the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, the American Public Health Association, Trust for America’s Health and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America have urged EPA to finalize rigorous emission standards.

States with Strong Clean Air Standards Have Had Strong Growth in Oil and Gas Activities

Colorado and Wyoming have long carried out clean air protections similar to those now proposed by EPA.  Environmental Defense Fund evaluated key oil and gas economic indicators — operational rotary rig counts, producing natural gas wells and natural gas gross withdrawals — in Wyoming and Colorado and compared those with overall national data as well as data for other key oil and gas producing states. 

Between 2000 and 2009, both Wyoming and Colorado had the highest annual growth rates for gross withdrawals and the highest average annual growth in producing gas wells as compared to other major gas-producing states with less protective clean air standards on the books.  In short, both Wyoming and Colorado have had strong growth in oil and gas activity while important clean air standards have been in place.

Posted in Climate, Natural Gas | Also tagged , | 1 Response, comments now closed