Energy Exchange

Research shows gathering pipelines in the Permian Basin leaking 14 times more methane than officials estimate

Methane plume detected on a gathering pipeline during 2021 survey.

Methane plume detected on a gathering pipeline during 2021 survey.

By Erin Murphy and Jevan Yu

Methane emissions from natural gas gathering pipelines in the U.S. Permian Basin are at least 14 times greater than Environmental Protection Agency national inventory estimates, according to new peer-reviewed research from EDF, Stanford University and the University of Arizona. Gathering lines transport unprocessed gas from well sites to processing facilities and vary widely in size and pressure, with diameters ranging from two inches to as large as 30 inches. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with over 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere, and this new research indicates the importance of finding and fixing pipeline methane leaks to mitigate the climate crisis.

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Also posted in Air Quality, General, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, PermianMAP / Language: / Comments are closed

New study finds flaring source of five times more pollution than previously thought

A new study out today in the journal Science finds that climate-warming methane emissions from flaring, the practice of burning off gas rather than capturing it for productive use, are five times higher than government estimates — primarily due to unlit and malfunctioning flares. Researchers conclude that flares are combusting at a 91% efficiency rate, significantly lower than the 98% efficiency rate that is assumed by operators and policymakers.

These findings confirm that our current environmental standards are not adequately controlling this pollution source and underline the need for urgent regulatory action from the Environmental Protection Agency  and Bureau of Land Management to limit pollution and waste from flaring.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Climate, General, Methane, Methane regulatons / Language: / Comments are closed

As nations sign on to end routine flaring, Biden admin must act

The last two months have seen encouraging momentum in the effort to tackle emissions of methane — a greenhouse gas that drives over a quarter of current warming — and the practice of flaring, which is a major source of energy waste and methane pollution.

Starting with last month’s Major Economies Forum, one of the last major climate gatherings before COP 27 in Egypt, signatories to the Global Methane Pledge introduced a new goal to end routine flaring as soon as possible, and by 2030 at the latest.

Then, just this week, the U.S. and Mexico announced a commitment to cooperate and help Mexico develop a plan to eliminate routine flaring in alignment with the Global Methane Pledge.

Fast action to end routine flaring is critical for reducing emissions of methane, protecting human health and the climate, and stopping needless waste of energy resources as the world faces an energy crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now, the U.S. has work to do to ensure domestic policies can live up to our own global commitments. Fortunately, both the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency have the authority and obligation to implement strong rules that end routine flaring.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Colorado, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, PermianMAP / Tagged | Language: / Comments are closed

Lessons from New Mexico and Colorado’s leading methane rules

Methane leaks from oil and gas sites represents a problem on many fronts. They create harmful air pollution, contribute to global warming and can even cause explosions. They also result in a lot of wasted gas.

Colorado and New Mexico — two of the nation’s leading energy producers — recently ramped up their methane pollution standards for the oil and gas industry.

Ensure standards apply to smaller, low-producing wells

The vast majority of the nation’s wells produce less than 15 barrels of oil a day and there are often calls for these sites to be exempted from environmental standards. This is a major problem because their footprint is huge and their climate impact adds up.

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Also posted in Colorado, Methane / Tagged | Language: / Comments are closed

To tackle natural gas waste on federal and tribal lands, the Biden administration must end routine venting and flaring

By Jon Goldstein and Ben Tettlebaum

With responsibility over one-eighth of the nation’s landmass, the Bureau of Land Management has a lot of important jobs. Chief among them is ensuring federal and tribal lands — and the minerals beneath them — are wisely and responsibly managed on behalf of the public, including U.S. taxpayers and tribal citizens.

But avoidable venting and flaring of natural gas from these lands emit harmful pollutants that have significant public health impacts, especially on communities living near oil and gas fields. What’s more, this damaging practice severely exacerbates the climate crisis and, estimates show, wastes $400 million worth of gas every year.

That’s why a broad coalition of 65 environmental, conservation, tribal, business, faith and agricultural groups called on BLM in a letter late last month to follow the lead of states like Alaska, Colorado and New Mexico and ban routine venting and flaring of natural gas.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, Wyoming / Tagged | Language: / Comments are closed

On pollution facts, don’t be fooled by rhetoric of oil and gas trade groups

Once again, a trade group funded by the oil and gas industry is trying to distort the facts on the industry’s pollution.

In a recent blog post, Texans for Natural Gas cherry picked government data in an attempt to argue against the need for policies that protect public health and the environment.

Posts like this – which take select pieces of data in order to make broad generalizations about industry’s progress toward reducing pollution – often fail to tell the whole story about the harmful emissions that warm the planet, jeopardize public health, and result in the massive waste of U.S. energy resources.

When reading industry-sponsored pollution assessments, there are a few crucial things to keep in mind.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed