Energy Exchange

Harnessing Europe’s climate diplomacy and energy policy to drive down methane worldwide

With the forthcoming EU Methane Strategy and a flurry of other energy proposals expected in the coming months, Europe has an incredible opportunity to lead — not just domestically but internationally — when it comes to reducing oil and gas methane emissions.

This is the single most effective thing we can do to limit temperature rise in the near term as we transition to a climate neutral future over the coming decades.

Europe’s leadership on methane emissions would be based on its market position as the largest importer of internationally traded gas in the world, as well as its strong technical expertise and ambition for climate action.

Unlike some other issues where policy objectives can run up against the realities of international politics, Europe’s market position provides the EU with leverage to shape behavior and actions beyond its borders.

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

BP, Shell and investment giants call for Texas zero flaring regulations. Will others follow?

The first time I saw a natural gas flare in the oilfield was in 2015. Our team at Environmental Defense Fund was beginning to study methane emissions and collaborate with companies to solve the problem. Early one morning, we loaded into a van with industry collaborators and technology entrepreneurs, venturing out into the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas.

Outside the van windows, flares dotted the landscape. A company representative explained that natural gas, or methane, was being burned on the spot rather than sent on for productive use in the economy. Why? Because there was no infrastructure in place to handle the gas coming from the region’s wells, most of which were built to produce only oil for market.

The good news, he explained, was that the problem was just temporary. Infrastructure would soon catch up with oil well drilling. The flares would soon be extinguished for good.

But more than five years later, flares are still burning nonstop.

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

Texas oil and gas regulators offer a weak fix to flaring

This post was originally published in The Dallas Morning News

After months of promising talk about curbing the oil and gas industry’s wasteful and polluting flaring habit, the Texas Railroad Commission unveiled a plan that does little to fix the problem. Despite calls from mineral owners, the public and even some in the industry itself to end routine flaring, the commission instead embraced largely empty measures advanced by an oil and gas trade group.

Flaring, setting fire to natural gas produced as an oil byproduct, is a colossal waste of resources and releases both carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. In recent years, the Railroad Commission has served as little more than a rubber stamp for oil and gas flaring in Texas. Since 2013, operators have obtained 35,000 flaring permits without a single denial.

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

SoCalGas wants a lifeline to stay in business — suing California is not the answer.

Earlier this month, the largest gas utility in the country filed a lawsuit against the state of California for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Southern California Gas Company claims in its suit that the California Energy Commission has not properly considered what role natural gas can play in a clean energy future.

It is a pretty bold move from SoCalGas — the company that supplies a fossil fuel that inherently runs counter the long-term benefit of the environment, and was responsible for the massive 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak that for months on end sent nearly a hundred thousand tons of potent methane gas into the atmosphere.

This is a spurious argument aimed at advancing the false notion that gas utilities should continue to provide customers with gas, whether they want it or not.

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Also posted in California, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Zero routine flaring by 2025 and the Texas policy needed to get there

Routine flaring at oil and gas production sites in Texas has been a chronic issue for years, as the rampant process burns off viable fuel product while emitting carbon dioxide, methane and toxic pollutant emissions into the atmosphere. Yet momentum for eliminating the practice is building among investors, operators and landowners, pushing the state’s regulatory body, the Texas Railroad Commission, to consider new flaring policy.

Several major operators, such as Chevron and Pioneer, have already significantly reduced flaring rates to less than 1%. In a recent blog touting Exxon Mobil’s greatly improved Permian flaring performance, the operator stated their experience, “demonstrates that zero routine flaring is within everyone’s reach.”

But as J.P. Morgan Asset Management stated in a recent flaring report, “voluntary operator actions to reduce routine flaring, while necessary, have proven insufficient to deliver on the industry’s full potential,” while reiterating “zero routine flaring by 2025 represents an important and achievable goal.” In order to achieve this goal, policymakers must step in to ensure widespread adoption and outline actionable goals.

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

Data underscores need to strengthen Pennsylvania’s methane rule proposal

In July, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection concluded its public comment period on proposed rules to curb methane emissions from existing oil and gas facilities.

As the state weighs feedback, EDF analysis shows Pennsylvania operators emit over 1 million tons of methane annually — 16 times what they report to regulators — and underscores the need for rules that close existing loopholes to properly address this climate and public health risk.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has already demonstrated leadership on methane with permits to cut pollution from new oil and gas infrastructure. Now Pennsylvania has an opportunity to tackle the vast majority of its methane emissions, which come from existing oil and gas facilities.

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