Energy Exchange

Long considered a “clean” energy source, hydropower can actually be bad for climate

A new EDF study published this week in Environmental Science and Technology shows that hydropower — the leading renewable energy technology projected to grow rapidly — is not always as good for the climate as broadly assumed. Moreover, continuing to assume that it is could mean that projects meant to reduce greenhouse emissions will unintentionally increase them instead.

Motivated by pervasive misconceptions of the climate impacts of hydropower, we assessed the warming impacts over time of sustained greenhouse gas emissions estimated from nearly 1,500 existing hydropower plants around the globe. We also looked at the implications of future hydropower development.

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Also posted in Water / Comments are closed

Illinois PUC decision may signal changing tide for natural gas utilities

While economic and environmental concerns have driven significant electric sector improvements, climate impacts of continued reliance on natural gas for heating and cooking has gone largely unchecked. A recent decision by the Illinois Commerce Commission sends a signal that natural gas utilities will not be permitted to invest customer dollars unchecked.

State public utilities commissions regulate natural gas distribution utilities and set their rates of return, one component of which is “return on equity.” These regulators thus have a tremendous influence on the long-term profitability of utilities and their investment decisions. Higher rates of return incentivize greater system buildout — the more the utility builds, the greater their profit.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Illinois, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Methane regulations can help transform Mexico’s energy sector

One year ago this week, Mexico took an immense step forward by passing the world’s most comprehensive regulations to reduce oil and gas methane emissions. Since then, oil and gas companies and the Mexican government have been collaborating to develop concrete plans to make this happen and to ensure that the country is on track to deliver on its climate goals. In June 2016 Mexico, along with the US and Canada, committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% by 2025, a target that is in line with the stated goals of the United Nations’ Convention on Climate Change.

But, is this enough? That is a question Mexico’s government and its national oil company, Pemex, should be asking today, because the country deserves more.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane regulatons, Texas / Comments are closed

Pennsylvania has an opportunity to lead on methane as EPA falters

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on its proposal to gut key regulations that reduce climate-damaging methane emissions, and protect communities from pollution from oil and gas development. Methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas responsible for 25% of current global warming, is also the main component of natural gas, which is an important energy resource in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the second-largest natural gas producing state in the U.S. and should act now to ensure its residents do not lose key protections put in jeopardy by the federal government. Gov. Wolf recently committed to join the ranks of states working to limit carbon pollution. By joining the many other oil and gas producing states across the country stepping up to cut methane pollution from existing oil and gas infrastructure, Pennsylvania has a chance to lead by quickly advancing their current rule proposal.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

5 best practices for Canadian methane regulations

The Canadian government recently reaffirmed its commitment to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% below 2012 levels by 2025 as part of the Pan-Canadian Framework. In April 2018, the federal government published comprehensive regulations intended to achieve this commitment.

Methane causes 25% of the warming that we are experiencing today, and the largest source of industrial emissions is from the oil and gas industry. Reducing emissions by 40-45% by 2025 will be equivalent to shutting down 1,300 coal plants — or roughly one-third of the coal plants around the world.

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Also posted in Canada, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Permian methane measurements will aid New Mexico regulators

The Permian Basin has grown to become the most productive oil field in the country and one of the largest in the world, but too little is known about what this drilling boom means for methane waste and pollution. A new science effort led by Environmental Defense Fund with researchers from Penn State, the University of Wyoming and Scientific Aviation will help fill this knowledge gap and better inform state regulators in New Mexico who are moving forward on state methane rules.

This first-of-its-kind study will combine three different types of data collection, utilizing methane measurements from airplanes, a network of towers, and vehicles that take measurements downwind from well sites. All data collected will be shared publically to better inform local communities in southeast New Mexico and West Texas, as well as state regulators and the producers themselves, about the scope and scale of the methane problem in the Permian.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, New Mexico / Comments are closed