Energy Exchange

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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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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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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Climate scientists agree: methane cuts are essential to limit global warming

By Ilissa Ocko and Tianyi Sun

A new report out this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is once again shedding more light on the climate crisis. According to the latest research, we’re on a dangerous trajectory that will result in significantly more warming than what policymakers aimed for.

As part of the Paris Climate Agreement — countries across the globe committed to try and limit future temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This new report not only predicts that we are not on track to meet that goal, it also suggests that even limiting warming to 2 degrees C is highly unlikely based on our current emissions and policies.

A previous IPCC assessment released earlier this year brought into focus the unfortunate reality that we are already experiencing increasingly destructive extreme weather events, rising seas, melting sea ice, habitat loss and other severe impacts of a changing climate at a much faster rate than communities can adapt. The fact that we are not acting fast enough to avert much worse impacts is disappointing news.

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Hydrogen is booming: 3 things investors need to know to reduce their risk

By Jake Hiller

The U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has set off a flurry of competition among states for a piece of the $8 billion in direct funding and tax credits the law provides for four “hydrogen hubs.” Last week, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas announced a joint bid, and New Mexico said it will also join the fray.

The role proposed for hydrogen in the EU’s climate transition plan lays the groundwork for a surge of investment there as well. China is in the race, too, with $20 billion in public funding already made available to projects.

A parallel rush to hydrogen is underway in the private sector. According to the Hydrogen Council and McKinsey, more than 350 large-scale projects worth $500 billion have already been announced, with hydrogen investments growing by roughly $1 billion per week. As Goldman Sachs recently wrote, “Policy, affordability and scalability seem to be converging to create unprecedented momentum for the clean hydrogen economy.”

How can investors boost the potential of their hydrogen stakes?

Hydrogen has a number of strengths as an energy carrier and decarbonization pathway. Its ability to generate both heat and electricity, its high energy content relative to its weight and its potential for storage either as a liquid or a gas make it particularly attractive for hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, cement, shipping and aviation. Read More »

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Quickly reducing methane along with CO2 could help save Earth’s sea ice

Check out EDF’s newest study: “The value of early methane mitigation in preserving Arctic summer sea ice.” Available now in Environmental Research Letters.

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