Energy Exchange

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Challenge, opportunity as China begins to tackle fossil fuel methane emissions

By Hanling Yang and Stefan Schwietzke

Even as China races to reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and conventional air pollutants from across its growing economy, new concerns are arising over methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas. The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) Special Report confirms that deep reductions in emissions of non-CO2 pollutants, particularly methane, are also essential to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.

Among China’s top sources of methane emissions are coal, gas and oil operations, which also offer the quickest and most effective opportunities for reduction of this pollution. China has a huge opportunity to tackle methane from these sectors, but better accounting of these emissions is needed if government and industry are going to solve the problem.

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Posted in China, Methane, Methane regulatons / Tagged | Read 3 Responses

Fixing regulatory pitfalls could reduce methane emissions

A version of this piece originally ran in Scientific American.

Methane has long been recognized as a potent greenhouse gas, but preventing its escape from industrial facilities has only recently become a prominent goal. The oil and gas industry, for example, is a large emitter, and research (including some by scientists at the Environmental Defense Fund) has documented that far more methane seeps out of wells, pipelines, valves and other points in the supply chain than energy companies and official emissions inventories report.

This revelation has people worried—people like me, who are concerned about the health and future of humanity. And people like the CEOs of global oil and gas companies, including BP and ExxonMobil, who have voluntarily pledged to reduce methane emissions. Increasingly, investors, public officials and neighbors living near oil and gas infrastructure have become worried, too.

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Posted in Fourth Wave, Methane, Methane regulatons / Tagged | Read 1 Response

API attacks on methane safeguards contradict science and drag the industry backwards

Methane is a powerful pollutant responsible for more than 25 percent of climate change we experience today—and the oil and gas sector is the largest industrial source of methane emissions. Recent scientific evidence only underscores the importance of addressing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Unfortunately, at the request of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and others in industry, the Trump administration has issued a proposal to dramatically weaken common sense standards that address oil and gas emissions, allowing for an increase in pollution. In addition, reports suggest that EPA is moving forward with a second proposal that could entirely remove the direct regulation of methane in the oil and gas sector, which would fly in the face of the well-established scientific record documenting the harms of this powerful pollutant and would disregard the substantial amount of pollution emitted from oil and gas sources.

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Posted in Methane / Tagged | Comments are closed

Trump’s EPA may weaken restrictions on disposal of oilfield wastewater — here’s what you need to know

Many Americans are aware that we are experiencing a major energy boom. But what many folks may not realize is that with this increase in oil and gas, also comes an increase in waste – specifically wastewater. In fact, for every barrel of oil produced wells can generate 10 times as much chemical-laden wastewater. All told, the industry produces over 900 billion gallons of wastewater a year, and we know very little about the chemicals in it.

Traditionally, companies have pumped this wastewater deep underground, but the growing volume is creating new challenges– leading many to wonder whether there may be different options for managing or reusing it. One of those options is treatment and discharge to rivers or streams.

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Posted in produced water, Water / Tagged | Comments are closed

Methane rollbacks test BP, ExxonMobil, Shell commitments to support Paris goals

By Ben Ratner and Nat Keohane

As business executives join leaders from government and civil society for COP24 in Katowice, Poland, a regulatory rollback across the Atlantic puts a sharp focus on the seriousness of energy companies’ commitments to support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report detailed the devastating consequences from a rapidly warming planet. One critical piece of the solution is reducing emissions of highly potent short-lived climate pollutants. In fact, deep reductions in emissions of non-CO2 pollutants, particularly methane, are essential to staying below temperature targets, and have the added benefits of improving public health, food security, and ecosystems.

The oil and gas industry is a leading source of potent methane emissions. But in the world’s largest oil and gas producing nation—the United States—the Trump Administration is working to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, while simultaneously rolling back common sense standards to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

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Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas / Also tagged , , | Comments are closed

As API changes leaders, it must change leadership

With Jack Gerard stepping down as head of the American oil and gas industry’s most powerful trade association, industry has an important opportunity to change with the times.

The oil and gas industry and its ecosystem are evolving rapidly before our eyes. Technology improvements allow ever more efficient production. Resource discovery in areas like the Permian Basin unlock opportunity and drilling activity that few ever thought possible. But the most profound change is happening above ground—the steadily growing calls for climate action by investors, governments, corporate energy users, and society at large.

The future of industry—its very prospect of surviving, let alone thriving, in a decarbonizing world—depends on its ability to meet society’s demands, not just for energy, but for leadership.

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Posted in Natural Gas, Washington, DC / Tagged | Comments are closed