Energy Exchange

Climate planning is key for New York’s gas infrastructure

Next month, the New York Public Service Commission will be deciding whether a rate case settlement proposal between National Grid’s upstate gas and electric utility (Niagara Mohawk) and other groups is in the public interest, and whether the proposal is consistent with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This is the first major utility rate case to be conducted fully under the CLCPA as effective law, and makes clear the need for commission action to implement standards to achieve state climate goals.

But there is a cloud hanging over this proposal: the utility rate case paradigm guiding this proceeding is outdated and inconsistent with New York’s climate goals.

There is no question that to achieve the CLCPA targets — to reduce New York greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050, below 1990 levels — natural gas use and combustion must decrease significantly. But the commission has not set clear standards to require that gas utilities plan for this transformational future, or to ensure utility rate applications and outcomes are consistent with the law. Decisive action is needed to address this disconnect.

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Also posted in New York / Language: / Comments are closed

FERC, not the Supreme Court, is the right place to fix the Spire pipeline mess

After the D.C. Circuit court vacated Spire STL’s unlawful certificate to operate a 66-mile natural gas pipeline running between Illinois and Missouri in June, Spire last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the vacatur decision and hand the company back its permission slip.

Not only should the Supreme Court not grant the stay, it shouldn’t even take up the case.

The Spire mess started at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the federal agency designated and empowered by Congress to handle pipeline approvals. And that’s where it should stay.

FERC needs to proceed based on the law as properly administered by the commission and to address the complex facts that warrant the fact-finding review of an expert agency. While FERC’s initial orders authorizing the pipeline were deficient, it has the capability and tools to conduct a fulsome analysis and now has an opportunity to course correct.

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Posted in Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed

Overwhelming public support paves way for stronger oil and gas pollution rules in New Mexico

Over the past two weeks the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board heard from a variety of New Mexicans as they considered newly proposed rules to limit oil and gas air pollution in New Mexico. What was striking over the 10 long days of testimony is just how broad and deep the support for a suite of improved rules is across the state.

While the board must still deliberate and finalize the rules (expected to happen early this coming spring) it is evident after the hearing that there is a clear, well-supported path to finalizing rules that protect the air and health of New Mexicans and that meet Gov. Lujan Grisham’s goal of setting nationally leading requirements to reduce harmful pollution from the oil and gas industry.

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

New IPCC report zeroes in on urgency of reducing methane

The new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the direst warning yet that we must rapidly and drastically slash climate emissions around the world and that reducing methane emissions is mission critical.

Though the report includes some important opportunities, it’s a very sober read. Let’s get some of the central but troubling conclusions out of the way.

We’ll likely pass 1.5C earlier than expected

Conducted by more than 200 of the world’s most influential climate scientists, the new assessment concludes we’re on course to surpass 1.5 C of warming by 2040, roughly a decade earlier than predicted in IPCC’s 2018 landmark report. A warming of 1.5 C will likely result in stronger and more frequent heat waves, heavier rainfall and flooding, more severe droughts and more powerful storms.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Language: / Comments are closed

Funding to plug and remediate orphan wells moves forward in the Senate

The bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under debate in Washington includes a new, $4.7 billion program to address a significant environmental legacy of the fossil fuel industry — the plugging and remediating of orphan oil and gas wells.

Orphan wells have no owner, so the cleanup liability falls largely to the public. Nearly 60,000 such wells have been documented by state and federal agencies, but there are likely many hundreds of thousands more scattered across more than two dozen states.

Unless properly plugged, oil and gas wells no longer in use pose major environmental hazards. They can contaminate groundwater and surface water resources. They emit methane — a potent greenhouse gas over 80 times more powerful in contributing to warming in the short term than carbon dioxide. They can also release air pollutants that are hazardous to human health.

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

With oil and gas pollution rules restored, what’s next for EPA on methane?

Last month, President Biden signed into law S.J. Res. 14, a Congressional Review Act resolution restoring methane pollution standards for the oil and gas sector by repealing Trump-era rollbacks. With bipartisan backing, Congress passed the measure and rejected the Trump administration’s dangerous weakening of methane protections and its unlawful attempt to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from setting stronger standards in the future.

With these protections restored, this fall EPA will propose additional standards for both new and existing sources of methane emissions.

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Also posted in Colorado, Methane, Methane regulatons, New Mexico, Pennsylvania / Language: / Comments are closed