By Mark Brownstein and Steve Hamburg
An organization in North Carolina this week asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to examine questions about the accuracy of measurements from a device used in two of the large and growing list of studies published in recent years quantifying the enormous amounts of methane released into the atmosphere by the U.S. oil and gas industry each year.
That long list of studies is a major reason why EPA recently increased its official estimates of industry emissions by 34 percent, and why the agency is pursuing new rules to start fixing the problem. In fact oil and gas methane emissions have moved from obscurity to center stage with remarkable speed, thanks to rush of compelling data.
The particular papers at issue were written by a team of scientists led by Dr. David Allen of the University of Texas. They are among of a group of studies on oil and gas industry methane emissions organized and coordinated by EDF. Possible complications involving a piece of sampling equipment (among several that were used) have been discussed by researchers in both academic literature and the news media for more than a year. You can read the blog that EDF wrote on it back in 2015 here. Read More
Posted in General Tagged Methane
Politicians and political observers are increasing the amount of time spent trying to figure out how to engage with Latino voters – a large and growing part of the American electorate. Issues such as immigration reform usually dominate the discussion nationally, but a new poll from the national polling firm Latino Decisions shows that clean water and healthy air are also of utmost importance for Latinos.
According to their poll 85% of those surveyed found reducing smog and air pollution to be extremely or very important, compared to 80 percent for comprehensive immigration reform.
This comes as no surprise to those of us that are rooted in this community where issues of the health of our communities and families are often top-of-mind around the dinner table. In reality, it also comes as no surprise to decision makers who have listened to our communities, and know Latinos have rich ties to the outdoors, but are too often the first and worst impacted by pollution. Read More
Posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Climate, Colorado, Methane, Natural Gas Also tagged air quality, California, Clean Air, Clean Power Plan, Colorado, diversity, Latinos, Natural Gas, New Mexico
A great thing happened today for the environment and people of California. On the very day we released new maps measuring methane leaking from natural gas lines under Los Angeles-area streets, the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) announced they would begin publishing their own maps showing the locations of leaks they find on their system.
It is a positive move that brings the company a big step closer to complying with the California law requiring them to publish not only the whereabouts of known leaks, but also the amount of methane escaping (which their newly announced maps do not). The public has a right to know where and how much harmful air pollution is being emitted by SoCalGas and any other company in California.
In the summer of 2013, researchers aboard a four-engine P-3 Orion aircraft – a variant of the plane used by the U.S. Navy to track submarines – flew over three of the nation’s biggest shale gas regions, taking measurements that would allow them to estimate the amount of methane leaking from the production fields below.
The team from University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory published their findings this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, adding new depth to our understanding of methane leaks, but also underscoring important questions.
Comparing their readings to production figures for the region, they estimated a total leak rate of 0.18 to 2.8 percent, which is at the low end of the range of findings in other research. For some, this may be cause for celebration.
But don’t pop the champagne corks just yet. Read More
After months of anticipation, the Obama Administration this month released its new methane emissions strategy – a plan that opens up new opportunities for industry writ large, and especially for operators that want to cut waste and get ahead.
The centerpiece of the strategy are imminent rules that will help us meet a new national goal to reduce harmful methane pollution from oil and natural gas operations by 45 percent by 2025.
But the rules also bring direct industry benefits. Here are four reasons the new methane emissions strategy is a boon, rather than bane, for America’s $1.2-trillion oil and gas sector:
1. It tackles $1.8 billion in annual waste and adds market certainty
Leaky infrastructure and unnecessary venting across the oil and gas value chain cost an estimated $1.8 billion in wasted product and lost revenue annually.
The new rules require companies to include up-to-date controls as they build out new and modified infrastructure, keeping gas in the pipeline while making new facilities more efficient. Read More
When credibility is your stock in trade, it’s important to have your facts straight. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal blew it.
In an unsigned opinion piece dubbed “Meth Heads in the White House,” the paper dismisses plans expected to be announced by the Obama administration in the next few weeks that would start to tackle the huge amount of methane leaking from America’s oil & gas production facilities.
The question is a significant one, because – as the article notes in passing – methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas (in point of fact, packing more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame). According to EPA data, oil & gas operations emit roughly 8 million metric tons of unburned methane annually, enough gas to heat nearly 6 million homes. Read More