Energy Exchange

Creating data to support communities on the front lines of oil and gas production in the U.S.

By Jeremy Proville and Kate Roberts

This week we published a new study that combines locations of active oil and gas wells with census tract data in a way that helps us better understand the characteristics of the communities living near them. Our findings support what environmental justice groups have been voicing for years: in many counties across America, people who have been historically marginalized — communities of color, older Americans, children and people living under the federal poverty line — often live near wells in greater proportions than the other groups that make up the rest of their local county.

In addition to publishing these data with our study, we also used it to develop an interactive tool, which users can access to explore how each of 13 different demographic groups relate to oil and gas wells across all U.S. counties.

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

New Jersey BPU must help natural gas utilities comply with state’s Global Warming Response Act

By Ted Kelly

The need to replace South Jersey’s leaking and leak-prone pipelines while planning to move New Jersey’s energy system away from fossil fuels became major news today when the Board of Public Utilities approved a settlement for the utility to address leaks in the gas system. South Jersey Gas is now one of the first utilities in the U.S. to commit to developing a plan to transition away from polluting energy sources and protect communities at high risk of methane pollution.

South Jersey Gas, state consumer advocates and regulators agreed on a way for the utility to use a data-informed approach to detect and repair or replace the biggest leaks and most at-risk pipelines in its jurisdiction. At the same time, South Jersey Gas will submit a plan, called the Climate Oriented Business Plan, which will outline how its business will evolve to meet federal and state decarbonization requirements in the long-term. This includes the selection of investments that comply with New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, which requires the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80% by 2050 with an interim goal of 50% by 2030.

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

Multi-state “action plan” on zero-emission trucks, buses is robust, but key additions are needed

Last month truck manufacturers, environmentalists and others shared their thoughts on a multi-state draft action plan to spur zero emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks in 17 states, the Province of Quebec and Washington D.C.

The plan, spearheaded by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management and developed by signatory states, was the culmination of months of educational webinars and stakeholder outreach and demonstrated the fruits of that labor. It was comprehensive and reflected the inclusion of a diverse array of perspectives and ideas.

The model action plan could be further strengthened to provide a roadmap for states that adequately addresses the climate and health imperative created by diesel trucks and buses. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, NESCAUM, Utility Business Models / Language: / Comments are closed

Rogue methane leaks from idle wells carry four big takeaways for policymakers

An ongoing methane leak involving several long-term idle wells in Southern California is raising safety concerns for nearby residents and highlights an important climate issue. Southern California has some of the worst air quality in the country, and leaks like these compound the negative impacts on some of the country’s most vulnerable populations. Both in California and across the country, many hundreds of thousands of end-of-life oil and gas wells are idle. That means that they are just sitting around awaiting proper site closure, which involves plugging the wells with cement to prevent gases or liquids from escaping and threatening the environment and public health.

Several such wells were recently found to be leaking methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that often escapes from oil and gas facilities alongside other toxic pollutants — in the Morningstar section of Bakersfield, CA. Local residents are concerned about the possibility of subsurface methane migration to homes and other structures in the vicinity.

While CalGEM and other agencies work to investigate and remediate the situation, four takeaways are already emerging:

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Methane, Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed

Big bright spot in a disappointing season for shareholder climate resolutions

By Andrew Howell, CFA

It’s annual general meeting season in the U.S. — when shareholders hold companies to account and press management to do better.

A record 71 climate-related resolutions will be presented this year at public companies, more than double the number last year. But with a more ambitious suite of resolutions, fewer are being approved: just 21% of climate resolutions have passed so far this year, compared with 33% last year.

So it is big news that yesterday brought the passage of the first two climate resolutions in the oil and gas sector at ExxonMobil and Chevron. And while the successful Exxon resolution, requiring reporting on the financial impacts of a net zero by 2050 world, received more attention, the Chevron resolution is equally noteworthy. Chevron’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution filed by Mercy Investment Services pushing the company to improve its reporting on methane emissions.

Methane is a critically important issue to mitigate climate emissions and improve energy security. Having reliable, quality data is the key to rapidly address both imperatives now.

The Chevron methane resolution was backed by a whopping 98% of shareholders and was supported by the company’s board — one of the first times a climate resolution has achieved this status.

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

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