Energy Exchange

Differentiated gas: Nothing but hot air without these five criteria

By Dan Grossman and Maureen Lackner

Getting a comprehensive and accurate picture of the extent of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry is hard.

Our scientists have spent much of the last decade detailing deficiencies and inaccuracies in the way companies — and even regulators — estimate emissions, which result in dangerous understatements of the methane problem.

And that is precisely why efforts by oil and gas companies and their consultants to differentiate some natural gas as “responsibly sourced” or “low emission” is problematic.

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Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed

The New York Utility Commission institutes a climate planning framework

The New York Public Service Commission is taking decisive action to orient the state’s utilities towards a clean energy future, consistent with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. In two new orders, the commission established a collaborative long-term planning process for gas utilities, put in place a framework for greenhouse gas emissions reporting for all New York utilities and directed a statewide study to assess the impacts of transitioning away from the use of natural gas.

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Posted in Natural Gas, New York / Language: / Comments are closed

Methane gas leaks present environmental justice concerns

By Erin Murphy and Joe von Fischer

New peer-reviewed research reveals neighborhoods with more people of color and lower household income tended to have more gas leaks. Because natural gas is composed primarily of methane, leaks are a source of climate pollution as well as a health and safety hazard and nuisance to nearby communities. The findings demonstrate why regulators and gas utilities should be open with the public about gas leak information and ensure that leaks in disadvantaged communities are addressed equitably.

What the research tells us

Researchers analyzed gas leak location data in nine U.S. metro areas and found leak densities increased along with the percentage of people of color and with decreasing median household income. Thus, communities of color and low-income populations generally experienced more gas leaks. The study found that average leak density increases by 37% for these populations compared to predominantly white neighborhoods. Leak density — the number of leaks per mile of pipeline — also increased slightly in neighborhoods with older housing infrastructure.

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The time has come for NYPSC to focus on charging infrastructure for trucks and buses

New York is at a crossroads. Our flagship climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, requires significant emissions reductions statewide. This puts every sector of our economy on the hook to deliver and position New York on a path to climate safety. To achieve the CLCPA’s goals, government agencies, communities and the private sector must work together to establish systems and solutions that reduce climate pollution, improve air quality and equity, and spark economic growth throughout the state.

The CLCPA’s vision cannot be achieved without tackling emissions from the transportation sector, the state’s second largest source of climate pollution and a significant contributor to local air pollution. New York policymakers have recognized this reality, but a transition to new types of vehicles can only be as successful as the infrastructure that powers them. And there, the New York Public Service Commission holds the key to success. That is why EDF, together with parties, has just filed a petition requesting that the Commission take steps to address the charging infrastructure needs of electric trucks and buses in the state.

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Posted in Electric Vehicles, NESCAUM, New York / Language: / Comments are closed

Lessons from New Mexico and Colorado’s leading methane rules

Methane leaks from oil and gas sites represents a problem on many fronts. They create harmful air pollution, contribute to global warming and can even cause explosions. They also result in a lot of wasted gas.

Colorado and New Mexico — two of the nation’s leading energy producers — recently ramped up their methane pollution standards for the oil and gas industry.

Ensure standards apply to smaller, low-producing wells

The vast majority of the nation’s wells produce less than 15 barrels of oil a day and there are often calls for these sites to be exempted from environmental standards. This is a major problem because their footprint is huge and their climate impact adds up.

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Posted in BLM Methane, Colorado, Methane, New Mexico / Language: / Comments are closed

States should not weaken liability laws for CCS projects

Early this January, a geyser in West Texas started spewing tens of thousands of barrels of salty water a hundred feet into the air and coating the nearby land with salt deposits. It took about 10 days to discover the culprit was an old, dry oil well plugged in 1957 by Gulf Oil. By the next day, the Texas Railroad Commission had turned over the blowout and remediation to Chevron (who acquired Gulf Oil in the 1980s), who assumed full responsibility immediately and without question.

This is a normal cost of doing business in the oilfield in Texas and elsewhere — you break it, you pay for it.

Traditional regulatory and legal principles around liability are designed to hold operators accountable when they or those they are responsible for fail to live up to their responsibilities. Such rules encourage operators to do as good and thorough a job as technically feasible.

However, some states are weakening these rules for operators of carbon sequestration and storage projects. If this quiet trend continues, the integrity of these projects, their climate benefits and their public acceptance could be significantly threatened.

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Posted in Carbon capture, Texas, Wyoming / Language: / Comments are closed