In new footage captured just weeks ago, an ominous cloud of what looks like black smoke seeps from a pump jack deep in the heart of a Texas oil field. But there are no fire trucks rushing to the scene. No first responders in hazmat suits scrambling to uncover the source of this relentless dark cloud. This is because that black smoke depicted is actually methane, an invisible but dangerous climate pollutant.
If this scene looks familiar, it’s because not long ago, footage of a major methane gas leak in Southern California also made international headlines. That leak has since been plugged, but as the new infrared footage released today reveals, every single day methane continues to leak in massive quantities from oil and gas facilities across the country and here in Texas. Read More
By: Ben Ratner, Senior Manager
As oil and gas leaders converge on Houston for the year’s largest industry conference, CERA Week, falling oil and gas prices are understandably top of mind and a cause for concern for the industry. But there is another decline story underway in industry, one that poses a risk to the future of hydrocarbons in a carbon constrained world – a story of falling trust.
While today’s $30 oil price is disruptive in the short-term, new information on the very low level of public trust in the oil and gas industry should prompt concern from executives and investors about possible longer-term disruption to companies’ social license to operate.
The Industry’s Public Trust Problem
Recent polling conducted by KRC Research for EDF found that a mere 29 percent of Americans trust oil and gas companies to operate responsibly. Strikingly, even among Republicans, the trust rate is under 40 percent.
Digging deeper into the numbers, just 15 percent of Americans trust the oil and gas industry to be accurate in disclosing how much pollution they cause.
So what do these results mean? Read More
A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, finds that methane emissions from oil and gas facilities in North Texas’ Barnett Shale are likely as much as 90 percent higher than previous estimates based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is no small matter. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas rapidly accelerating the rate of climate change. But it’s also emitted with other harmful pollutants, like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that contribute to smog levels, as well as the cancer causing compound benzene. One study estimates that oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale Region in Texas contributes 19,888 tons of VOCs per year while estimates for the Eagle Ford Shale region just south of San Antonio project oil and gas operations could produce up to 1,248 tons per day VOC by 2018. Both the DFW area and San Antonio are struggling with high smog levels.
And based on the findings of the new methane study, we now know that there are instances where the magnitude of oil and gas emissions is even higher than previously thought. That is especially troubling for the more than 6 million people living in the DFW area who are at risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory and other health problems as a result of this unnecessary air pollution. Unnecessary because recent analysis concludes that emissions can be drastically reduced by implementing cost-effective and “off the shelf” pollution reduction technologies and practices – begging the question: why has Texas, the leading oil and gas producing state, not been a leader on reducing this harmful pollution?
By Krystal Henagan, Moms Clean Air Force Texas Field Organizer
Facing climbing ozone levels and non-attainment, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) deployed their top officials to host an “air quality” open house in the Alamo City, Texas, Monday. As a mother of an asthmatic son, I was looking forward to hearing the agency’s plans to improve our region’s poor air quality not only for him, but for the thousands of San Antonio children suffering from dirty air.
Those of us expecting a comprehensive overview of how the state agency was planning to work with local and federal agencies to provide regional solutions to clean up our air were deeply disappointed. Rather, the open house was a very bizarre orchestration of an oil and gas industry PR blitz held by TCEQ’s commissioners and toxicologist. Read More
Late August provided a vivid reminder of San Antonio’s decade long challenge with air quality and a timely preview of an issue the entire region will be talking about next month: ground level ozone (a.k.a. smog).
The last week of August, San Antonio air monitors registered some of the highest smog readings of the year. In fact, the city’s smog levels were higher than any other city in Texas on August 27.
Put simply, if you have asthma, or other breathing difficulties, you probably had a pretty tough time that week. Read More
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Daily Ozone Air Quality Index in Texas for August 28, 2015 via AIRNow. Orange indicates that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Growing up in the heat of South Texas, praying for rain was a daily ritual. Droughts are common there, and climate change is making them more intense and thus more devastating. Yet Texans are surrounded by inaccurate political messages that cast doubt on evidence that humans are causing climate change. This kind of rhetoric is physically and economically harmful, especially to the 40 percent of Texans who are Hispanic or Latino, because these populations are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has partnered with League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to raise awareness and action on environmental issues that impact our health. LULAC is the largest and oldest nationwide Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S. Recently, I had the honor of speaking with the Greater Houston LULAC Council at their monthly breakfast about how climate change impacts Latinos in Texas. Juan Parras, Founder and Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), joined me at the event and drove the point home by discussing how climate change and industrial pollution is affecting Latinos in Houston. Together, we sought to inform our audience of the role they can play to stop damaging rhetoric and get involved to support climate change solutions and public health protections. Read More