Monthly Archives: May 2020

To fix flaring, Railroad Commission must tackle the incentive problem

Previously published in Shale Magazine

By Colin Leyden and Scott Anderson

A remarkable thing happened at the Texas Railroad Commission these past few weeks. Throughout the contentious debate over proration, a growing chorus of voices on both sides was calling on the commissioners to address flaring — an incredibly wasteful, environmentally damaging practice that has been giving producers a black eye for years.

During the epic 10-hour proration hearing on April 14, it wasn’t just environmental and health groups banging the drum on flaring. Large and small producers (both for and against proration), mineral rights groups and investors all called for action on flaring. So while proration may be off the agenda for now, the need and desire to address flaring lives on.

Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

How FERC’s flawed definition of “subsidy” could reshape the energy future for 65 million Americans

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order last December that could force many clean energy resources to bid into the nation’s largest wholesale electricity market, PJM, at artificially high prices. State policy makers, consumer and environmental advocates and the clean energy industry alike spoke out in vigorous opposition. Now, that order is being challenged in the courts. In the meantime, PJM must implement its directives in a process that will shape the future energy system for 65 million Americans in a region that spans 13 mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia.

While FERC’s December order was already bad policy — replacing competitive bidding with administrative pricing — many aspects of their mid-April order clarifying that policy are illogical and unworkable. As well as threatening competitive markets, these orders undermine state clean energy choices and, if FERC ignores PJM’s latest proposal attempting to soften the impact of the orders, could increase customer costs by billions.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Market resilience, New Jersey, New York, Regional Grid, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed

A zero flaring policy is long overdue, and investors can help make it reality

As investors take a hard look at the U.S. energy sector during this time of volatility, natural gas flaring is one of the most important and immediate risks to manage.

The eyesore of the oilfield, flaring natural gas destroys shareholder value and creates environmental, social and governance risk — exactly the kind of problem that an increasing number of asset managers, investment banks, and even private equity firms have promised to address.

Routine flaring is damaging the environment in several ways. In addition to the CO2 emissions from combusted gas, flares can release significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere. EDF’s recent helicopter survey found that more than one in every 10 flares at oil and gas sites across the Permian Basin was either unlit — venting uncombusted methane straight to the atmosphere — or only partially burning the gas they were releasing. In fact, the survey suggests that flaring could be among the region’s largest sources of fugitive methane and a troublesome contributor to local air pollution.

Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

A bright future for continuous methane detection

Over the last decade, a trove of scientific studies has established that not only are methane emissions from oil and gas operations a major contributor to climate change, but also that they are severely underestimated and underreported.

EDF has been at the forefront of research to detect and quantify the magnitude of oil and gas methane emissions. And we’ve also helped develop solutions that make large-scale emission reductions easier, faster and cheaper. A new initiative led by The University of Texas at Austin called Project ASTRA is a promising, multi-year experiment with the potential to build on and complement other efforts aimed at scaling global reductions of oil and gas methane emissions.

Read More »

Posted in Methane, PermianMAP / Comments are closed

Canada’s Trudeau exemplifies climate leadership in the face of COVID-19 crisis

As countries everywhere struggle to balance crucial long term priorities like climate change with the urgent health and economic issues faced by millions suffering the effects of a viral pandemic, the government of Canada has distinguished itself with a new policy designed to address both sets of challenges without shortchanging either.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Canada’s Energy Stimulus Plan offers a standout example of how world leaders can carefully meet society’s immediate needs while simultaneously reducing the greenhouse gas pollution that is destabilizing our climate. Trudeau’s response demonstrates that it is possible to protect and preserve jobs — even in the oil and gas sector — while still cutting emissions.

The plan, announced in April, includes over CA$2 billion to help offset the crisis in the energy sector, while keeping a sharp focus on the economy and the environment. It includes CA$1.7 billion to clean up old, so-called orphan wells across Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which the government estimates will preserve more than 5,000 jobs in Alberta alone.

Read More »

Posted in Canada, Climate, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

ERCOT forecast and new analysis show the Texas grid moving away from fossil fuels

A duo of recent announcements underscore the clear direction the Texas grid is headed: toward more renewable energy, storage, energy efficiency and sophisticated demand-side management resources and away from coal.

That means less climate and local air pollution, of course. But it also means more local jobs, less volatile energy costs, a more stable and reliable grid and yet another opportunity for Texas to reap the economic benefits that come with being an energy pioneer.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Market resilience, Solar Energy, Texas / Comments are closed