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, BLM Methane, General, Methane, Methane regulatons, PermianMAP / 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, Methane regulatons, 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, Methane regulatons / Language: / Comments are closed

Creating data to support communities on the front lines of oil and gas production in the U.S.

By Jeremy Proville and Kate Roberts

This week we published a new study that combines locations of active oil and gas wells with census tract data in a way that helps us better understand the characteristics of the communities living near them. Our findings support what environmental justice groups have been voicing for years: in many counties across America, people who have been historically marginalized — communities of color, older Americans, children and people living under the federal poverty line — often live near wells in greater proportions than the other groups that make up the rest of their local county.

In addition to publishing these data with our study, we also used it to develop an interactive tool, which users can access to explore how each of 13 different demographic groups relate to oil and gas wells across all U.S. counties.

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

New Jersey BPU must help natural gas utilities comply with state’s Global Warming Response Act

By Ted Kelly

The need to replace South Jersey’s leaking and leak-prone pipelines while planning to move New Jersey’s energy system away from fossil fuels became major news today when the Board of Public Utilities approved a settlement for the utility to address leaks in the gas system. South Jersey Gas is now one of the first utilities in the U.S. to commit to developing a plan to transition away from polluting energy sources and protect communities at high risk of methane pollution.

South Jersey Gas, state consumer advocates and regulators agreed on a way for the utility to use a data-informed approach to detect and repair or replace the biggest leaks and most at-risk pipelines in its jurisdiction. At the same time, South Jersey Gas will submit a plan, called the Climate Oriented Business Plan, which will outline how its business will evolve to meet federal and state decarbonization requirements in the long-term. This includes the selection of investments that comply with New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, which requires the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80% by 2050 with an interim goal of 50% by 2030.

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Rogue methane leaks from idle wells carry four big takeaways for policymakers

An ongoing methane leak involving several long-term idle wells in Southern California is raising safety concerns for nearby residents and highlights an important climate issue. Southern California has some of the worst air quality in the country, and leaks like these compound the negative impacts on some of the country’s most vulnerable populations. Both in California and across the country, many hundreds of thousands of end-of-life oil and gas wells are idle. That means that they are just sitting around awaiting proper site closure, which involves plugging the wells with cement to prevent gases or liquids from escaping and threatening the environment and public health.

Several such wells were recently found to be leaking methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that often escapes from oil and gas facilities alongside other toxic pollutants — in the Morningstar section of Bakersfield, CA. Local residents are concerned about the possibility of subsurface methane migration to homes and other structures in the vicinity.

While CalGEM and other agencies work to investigate and remediate the situation, four takeaways are already emerging:

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