Monthly Archives: August 2017

California’s new methane leakage requirements for gas utilities are already delivering benefits

EDF Schneider fellow Scott Roycroft co-authored this post

California’s gas utilities have had their share of problems in recent years – so improvements in environmental impacts, operations, and safety are important to track.

In 2014, the California legislature passed a law to require utility companies to publicly disclose data on gas leaks and emissions while working to actually cut those emissions.  Now, three years later, utility reporting has been standardized, an emissions trend has emerged, and the results are significant.

Graphic 1: A depiction of the volume of methane emissions from California utilities between 2015 and 2016. Emissions from the Aliso Canyon blowout are shown as a separate category.

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Posted in California, Climate, Data Access, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New study reveals gaps in the methods used to assess chemicals in oilfield wastewater

A new study led by researchers with Colorado School of Mines exposes limitations with the current methods used to detect chemicals in oilfield wastewater and offers solutions to help regulators make better decisions for managing this waste stream.

Oilfield wastewater is extremely salty and can contain multiple combinations of many potentially harmful chemicals (approximately 1600 on a national basis). However, most standard or approved analytical methods available to regulators were designed to work with fresh water. Because oil and gas wastewater is so salty—sometimes 10 times saltier than seawater or more—chemists often have to dilute wastewater samples to manage the high salt content.

This means they may also be diluting chemicals of concern to concentrations too low to detect, even though they may be present at risky levels. For example, benzene is a chemical associated with petroleum hydrocarbons and a known carcinogen. It also has a drinking water standard of 5 parts per billion – that’s 5 cents in 10 million dollars. It really doesn’t take much dilution of a sample to lose that level of precision. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas, produced water, produced water / Tagged | Comments are closed

New utility settlement will unlock millions in clean energy funding for Ohio

Enhancing EV infrastructure is one of the many ways AEP’s new settlement advances clean energy.

BLOG UPDATE – APRIL 25, 2018

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio today approved AEP’s electric security plan, described below.

AEP, one of Ohio’s largest utilities, just reached an exciting new milestone that takes the state further down the path to a clean energy economy.

The utility has reached a settlement that will unlock millions in funding, lower pollution, avoid unnecessary electricity bill increases, and provide customers with more clean energy options.

New benefits

In AEP’s recent electric security plan case (a process that sets generation rates charged to customers) through 2024, the utility, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), and others have reached a settlement that includes the following:

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Posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Ohio / Comments are closed

Californians benefit from continuous pollution monitoring at oil and gas sites

Sophia Brewer, Oil and Gas Intern, contributed to this article.

Since the 1892 discovery of oil in California, the oil and gas industry has been a major economic engine and energy supplier for the state. Although this oil and gas production may be broken down into dollars and barrels, it doesn’t tell the story of the potential impact of drilling activity on the lives of the people in Los Angeles and the Central Valley who live right next to these operations.

While some production sites may be meeting stringent operational and environmental standards, others may not –there simply isn’t data to discern which is which – and that is where monitoring comes in. Read More »

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

Secretary Perry continues to ignore the evidence on grid reliability, even his own

Late Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its so-called “study” on grid reliability.

Secretary Perry commissioned the report in this April memo, asking the DOE to investigate whether our electric grid’s reliability is threatened by the “erosion of critical baseload resources,” meaning coal and nuclear power plants. Perry took the unusual step of providing his own, pre-study conclusion, claiming that “baseload power is necessary to a well-functioning electric grid.”

His own report disagrees. It’s largely a backward-looking report that sometimes argues with itself, but comes, albeit grudgingly, to the same conclusion as every other recent study: the electric grid continues to operate reliably as uneconomic coal diminishes. Moreover, coal is declining because it can’t compete, and other resources are ensuring reliability at more affordable rates.

Perry seems undeterred by the evidence however, and the report’s accompanying cover letter and recommendations appear ready to double down on his pro-coal agenda. Here are three ways he tries to twist the facts in favor of dirty coal – a move that ignores more efficient, affordable, and innovative solutions and comes at a cost to Americans. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy / Read 3 Responses

Here’s how Chevron’s next CEO can turn over a new leaf

Chevron, the nation’s second largest oil and gas producer, is in the news this week as reports surface that long-time CEO John Watson is expected to step down. It’s no secret that Mr. Watson has too often lagged on his response to climate change. As the board selects a new CEO, it has a chance to turn a new leaf and move Chevron toward the right side of history on climate change, better positioning the company to address investor and social demands for cleaner energy and climate risk management.

Here’s what their new CEO should bring to the table:

A vision for how the company adapts and leads in the low carbon transition

Chevron withheld support for the Paris climate accord even as peers like Exxon and Shell supported it. Opposing the vast majority of the rest of the world is not an economically sustainable posture for a global company –and it creates unnecessary risks for shareholders. The board should select a CEO with a vision to adapt and lead in the transition to a cleaner energy economy. Simply acknowledging the reality of climate change is no longer enough – a 21st century energy leader also develops a sound business plan to navigate that reality and help the global community address one of its costliest challenges. Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed