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

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

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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Posted in General / Language: / Comments are closed

An all-inclusive way to look at energy transition in New Jersey

By Elizabeth B. Stein and Cole Jermyn

New Jersey, like many other states, has been hard at work developing a strategy to drastically reduce its own climate impact. The state’s residents are already experiencing more than their share of climate change. With 130 miles of coastline, including population centers near much-loved beaches, more frequent extreme weather events are an existential threat to the state.

The state’s Energy Master Plan identifies and coordinates efforts, in various parts of the economy, to achieve a sustainable pathway to substantial decarbonization by 2050. But a new study, proposed by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, that seeks to estimate the financial impact of these efforts to eliminate fossil fuels on gas and electric utility customers, is infected with methodological flaws and faulty assumptions that would put it out of step with the state’s energy and climate policy.

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Posted in Clean Energy, New Jersey / Language: / Comments are closed