Energy Exchange

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, BLM Methane, Climate, General, Methane / Language: / Comments are closed

INTERACTIVE MAP: Who is impacted most by overlooked pollution from America’s small oil and gas wells

A new EDF map is making it easier to access information about the communities across the country who are impacted by pollution from small oil and gas wells with leak-prone equipment.

There are over half a million wells across the country that are producing less than 15 barrels of oil and gas a day. But while they produce just 6% of the nation’s oil and gas, a new study reveals they are causing half of wellsite pollution nationwide.

Explore the map to learn more about your county.

This pollution has a very real impact on the climate and on the health of communities who live near these facilities. Not only do these facilities emit significant volumes of the potent greenhouse gas methane, they also leak other pollution that is toxic to human health and can severely deteriorate air quality.

Nearly 8 million people across the country live within half a mile of these well sites. A closer look at the data reveals that pollution from these wells has a disproportionate impact on many historically marginalized or vulnerable communities.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane / 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, BLM Methane, Colorado, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP / Language: / Comments are closed

In wake of Supreme Court ruling, we must go full steam ahead to reduce methane pollution

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent climate change ruling has unfortunately restricted the tools available to EPA in its effort to address climate pollution from power plants. However, it’s also important to recognize that the ruling in no way changed EPA’s longstanding authority and duty to address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act to address climate pollution itself — including from new cars and freight trucks, industrial sources, new and existing power plants, and oil and gas development.  And with respect to oil and gas pollution, this decision in no way impedes the agency’s ongoing and important efforts to reduce oil and gas methane pollution.

It remains critical that the EPA exercise its clear authority and obligation to move forward with protective climate standards, including its proposed rules to curb methane pollution from the oil and gas sector, which emits roughly 16 million tons of methane annually. Globally, methane from human sources is responsible for over a quarter of the warming we are experiencing today.

EPA’s authority to tackle methane pollution was reaffirmed by bipartisan majorities in Congress just last year, and the agency has commonsense, cost-effective tools at hand to address the health harms posed by oil and gas methane pollution, which in the U.S. alone has the near-term climate impact every year of 294 million passenger vehicles. Read More »

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

Big bright spot in a disappointing season for shareholder climate resolutions

By Andrew Howell, CFA

It’s annual general meeting season in the U.S. — when shareholders hold companies to account and press management to do better.

A record 71 climate-related resolutions will be presented this year at public companies, more than double the number last year. But with a more ambitious suite of resolutions, fewer are being approved: just 21% of climate resolutions have passed so far this year, compared with 33% last year.

So it is big news that yesterday brought the passage of the first two climate resolutions in the oil and gas sector at ExxonMobil and Chevron. And while the successful Exxon resolution, requiring reporting on the financial impacts of a net zero by 2050 world, received more attention, the Chevron resolution is equally noteworthy. Chevron’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution filed by Mercy Investment Services pushing the company to improve its reporting on methane emissions.

Methane is a critically important issue to mitigate climate emissions and improve energy security. Having reliable, quality data is the key to rapidly address both imperatives now.

The Chevron methane resolution was backed by a whopping 98% of shareholders and was supported by the company’s board — one of the first times a climate resolution has achieved this status.

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

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