Energy Exchange

Congress should restore critical methane pollution standards

By Rosalie Winn and Raisa Orleans

EDF Legal Fellow Edwin LaMair contributed to this post.

Lawmakers last week introduced joint resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to restore widely-supported methane pollution protections and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward swiftly with ambitious next-generation standards for new and existing oil and gas facilities. The move has received broad support from environmental groups and at least one industry trade group.

The resolutions have widespread support among both House and Senate leadership and will be fast-tracked in the coming weeks.

EPA first adopted the standards in 2016 to reduce the oil and gas industry’s pollution of methane — a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas — along with other smog-forming and hazardous local air pollution.

Methane is responsible for a quarter of the warming that we are experiencing today, and the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane pollution in the U.S. Local health-harming pollution from the industry impacts more than 9 million Americans who live on the frontlines of oil and gas development. Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Careful accounting is critical to assessing the climate benefits of biomethane

By Mark Omara and Joe Rudek

Multiple states are exploring the use of renewable natural gas to decarbonize their gas systems. Renewable natural gas tends to be a generic term that describes a variety of fuels, including hydrogen, synthetic gas and biogas.

As we explained in an earlier blog, not all biogas (a biomethane precursor) is created equal. In order to provide climate benefits, renewable natural gas fuels must result in a net reduction in methane emissions, since methane is a very potent greenhouse gas that is rapidly increasing the rate of near-term global warming. The simple label of “bio” on the methane does not mean that it is automatically renewable or that it provides climate benefits. Both the selection of source of the organic fuels and the injection methods must be done correctly to provide climate benefits.

But what does “done correctly” mean?

Read More »

Posted in California, Methane / Comments are closed

Curbing methane emissions is a climate opportunity for national oil companies

By Ratnika Prasad

The energy transition is accelerating, as social, political and economic pressures build on political and corporate leaders to meet the Paris goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius.

While carbon dioxide is often the focus, at least a quarter of today’s warming is caused by methane emissions from human sources. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first two decades after its release, making methane reductions especially useful in slowing the rate of warming.

As a major source of global methane emissions, the oil and gas industry bears a special responsibility for urgent action to bring methane leakage and flaring under control. Some operators are embracing the challenge. However, barring a few exceptions, national oil companies — those that are fully or majority-owned by a national government — have largely lagged behind their privately owned counterparts.

A new report by Carbon Limits explores the critical role NOCs can play in mitigation of methane emissions. Over half of total global oil and gas production comes from NOCs, with an estimated 75% of industry’s methane emissions stemming from the countries they operate in, according to IEA data. This outsized relationship between emissions and production underscores the need for concerted action by NOCs to curb methane emissions.

Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

A clear path to protecting Texas from the next weather crisis

By Colin Leyden and John Hall

The aftermath of the storm we just endured will linger a lot longer than the average Texas winter.

At least 80 people died. Millions of families lost power and water service as broad swaths of our critical infrastructure froze up. Families, businesses and cities are still tallying the damage, but this crisis could surpass Hurricane Harvey’s $125 billion price tag and become the most expensive natural disaster in Texas history. Our most vulnerable communities were hit hardest by outages, and, in a cruel twist, some Texans (many of whom lost service during the crisis) are facing exorbitant electric bills because of disaster-induced market volatility.

This week, Texas began to pick up the pieces, identify what went wrong, and develop a plan to protect our citizens from extreme weather crises in the future.

Texans are mad, and we deserve to be. Preparation could have avoided this disaster. Texas leaders knew what to do, and they didn’t do it.

Texans deserve a comprehensive analysis of what happened, why it happened, and what state leaders and energy industry participants will do to ensure it never happens again. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, General, State, Texas / Comments are closed

A year of data and one clear message: Permian flaring remains a major problem

By Colin Leyden and Ben Hmiel

Even amidst a global pandemic and market volatility that reduced oil and gas activity, at least one thing didn’t change in the Permian last year: operators can’t seem to keep their flares lit.

Throughout 2020, EDF conducted aerial surveys of portions of the Permian Basin to determine the performance of natural gas flares. Even when done properly, flaring is a wasteful, polluting practice that has earned industry “a black eye.” But when flares malfunction they also become major sources of highly potent, climate-polluting methane.

Over the course of 2020, we conducted periodic surveys of flares in various parts of the Permian. These took place in February, March, June and November, and included a series of consecutive, repeat surveys of one specific area on November 2, 4 and 6 meant to understand how long flare malfunctions persist. In total, we studied nearly 1,200 flares in the region.

Read More »

Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

Biden has an opportunity to accelerate recovery in Puerto Rico

By Agustín F. Carbó and Daniel Whittle

En español

It’s a new day for the United States and Puerto Rico. With a new president and a new governor, Puerto Rico can turn a new page, and continue rebuilding — even better than before. This couldn’t come at a better time. President Biden’s climate and clean energy strategy is the boldest, most far-reaching we’ve ever seen from a U.S. President. Under this plan, Puerto Rico should receive federal support in reaching its own far-sighted clean energy goals. In doing so, the island can become a model of resilience and innovation for the nation and the Caribbean.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Equity, Puerto Rico / Comments are closed