Energy Exchange

Questions in EPA Inspector General letter are narrow, have been asked and answered before

The questions the EPA Inspector General appears to be interested in are ones that have been widely and publicly addressed over the past three years, including in peer-reviewed scientific literature. For reference, see our blog posts from here (December 9, 2016), here (June 9, 2016), and here (March 9, 2015).

The most important thing to understand is that there is an extensive body of scientific research, including substantial research produced just over the last four years documenting the significant problem of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, of which the two studies cited in the IG letter are just a small part. Together, this body of research presents a clear and compelling picture of the magnitude of the methane emissions problem in the U.S. and the urgent need for action to address it.

For example, EDF has helped coordinate 16 different research projects looking at emissions from on the ground and in the air. So far 33 peer-reviewed papers have been published on those projects. More than 35 different research institutions and over 120 individual co-authors have been involved in the work published to date. Read More »

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Fayetteville flyover study sheds valuable light on the role of regional episodic emissions

Five years ago, EDF initiated a series of 16 peer-reviewed scientific studies involving over 100 research and industry experts in order to better quantify the methane emissions coming from the U.S. oil and gas industry and to better understand where and how to focus efforts to reduce them. Since then, over 30 peer-reviewed papers have been published across a number of scientific journals, with the data indicating that emissions from the industry are generally higher than official U.S. estimates.

However, quantifying methane wasn’t our only goal. We also sought to catalyze a community of researchers — both inside and outside academia — to continue this work, because there is still much more we can learn about how to effectively reduce this powerful climate pollutant.  So I was pleased to see the publication of a new independent study that evaluates methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure in the Fayetteville Shale region of Arkansas. Read More »

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With methane plan, New York doubles down on climate protections

New York is now the latest in a growing number of states cracking down on methane – the powerful greenhouse gas responsible for about a quarter of global warming.

The effort comes on the heels of a successful senate vote to uphold methane limits for oil and gas companies operating on our nation’s public and tribal lands, and sends yet another strong message to the oil and gas industry that Americans want and expect commonsense standards that  protect our health and natural resources.

Governor Cuomo’s new plan takes a comprehensive approach to tackling methane from the state’s biggest emission sources: landfills, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. Collectively, the twenty-five reduction strategies outlined will allow New York to significantly curb methane pollution and allow the state to deliver on its 2030 climate target. Read More »

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Smart money: Top investors press oil & gas companies to tackle methane emissions

A global group of 30 leading institutional investors coordinated by the PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) has announced a new initiative that will encourage oil and gas companies, including gas utilities, around the world to initiate or improve efforts to measure, report, and reduce methane emissions.

The move is the latest evidence that investors are concerned with the financial, reputational and environmental risks associated with unmonitored and unchecked methane venting and leakage.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. It’s responsible for about 25% of the warming our planet is experiencing today. Globally, the oil and gas industry is among the largest man-made sources of methane.

Methane is also the main ingredient in the natural gas, the product that major global producers have marketed to investors as central to their growth in the years ahead. Companies tout gas as a clean, low-carbon fuel, ignoring the vast amounts of unburned methane escaping from their systems each year, or the lack of transparency with regard to monitoring and reduction strategies.

The owners and asset managers involved in the PRI’s methane initiative oversee more than $3 trillion. They are global in scope, representing a dozen countries across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. PRI plans to engage 29 companies on four continents, from across the natural gas supply chain (the names aren’t being made public). They will be urging greater transparency and stronger, more concrete actions, including setting methane targets and participating responsibly on methane policy. Read More »

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Methane: The Next Frontier for European Climate Leadership

uk-oil-and-gasWith 2016 on pace to be the hottest year ever recorded, it’s never been more urgent for countries to work together to protect our climate. Europe, with its long history of climate leadership, has a pivotal role to play in driving the next wave of efforts.

European leadership was central to achieving the historic Paris Climate Agreement, as well as recent breakthrough agreements on carbon dioxide emissions from aviation and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in refrigerators and air conditioners.

But there is one critical climate opportunity still to be taken on in Europe, and that’s methane – one of the biggest levers we have today to slow the rate of warming. Read More »

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With New OGCI Accord, Global Oil & Gas Companies Step Into Climate Solutions Game

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a group of 10 oil and gas CEOs representing 25 percent of the industry’s global production, came together in London today to sign an agreement committing to invest $1 billion over the next ten years to accelerate commercial deployment of low carbon energy technologies. Their primary focus will be carbon capture and storage and reducing oil and gas methane emissions.

Not coincidentally, this accord comes the same day that the Paris Climate Agreement enters into force.

Is $1 billion enough? Of course not. The emission reduction goals the world has set in Paris require nothing less than a fundamental transformation of our global energy system. We must dramatically reduce the total amount of fossil fuels we use – coal, oil, and natural gas – and dramatically ramp up deployment of renewable resources – solar, wind – and aggressively pursue energy efficiency and vehicle electrification.

Jeremy Legget, chairman of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, points out that “the world has to mobilize trillions of dollars a year for clean energy” within a 10 year time frame if the Paris goals are to be realized. Collectively, the ten OGCI CEOs signing today’s accord already plan to spend more than $90 Billion in capital this year alone just doing business as usual, so even by the standards of their own capital budgets, a $1 billion commitment over a decade is a drop in the bucket. Read More »

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