Energy Exchange

Texas forms new group to weigh pros, cons of repurposing oilfield wastewater

Some Texas leaders and oil and gas industry advocates have for years promoted the idea that produced water — the wastewater generated through oil and gas development — has a role to play in meeting broad water needs in our state. However, the state has a limited understanding of the chemicals in this wastewater and how programs to reuse it outside the oilfield could be practiced safely, if at all.

Acknowledging the necessity to better understand treatment needs, economic challenges, and public health and environmental risks of industry’s wastewater, the Texas Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 601, establishing a Texas Produced Water Consortium. The consortium will be housed at Texas Tech University, and will bring together a wide swath of agency advisors, technical experts and key stakeholders to consider these issues and produce a report with recommendations over the next year. The group is charged with suggesting legal and regulatory changes to better enable beneficial uses, identifying pilot projects and assessing the economics of using produced water both efficiently but also in a way that protects public health and the environment.

Answering these questions will be no easy feat, and Texas should definitely not encourage beneficial reuse until it can confidently answer tough questions about safety.

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Also posted in produced water / Comments are closed

4 opportunities for gas utilities to accelerate the energy transition today

A troubling story recently emerged about a group of gas utilities whose mission is to fight electrification. While the leaked materials alone don’t explain the full extent of the group’s efforts, it was unsettling to see baseless, fear-driven tactics such as “take advantage of power outage fear,” to make people wary of electrification. Instead of blocking progress to safe, affordable, clean energy, gas utilities concerned with the future should be taking steps today to accelerate the energy transition.

Several analyses make clear that electrification of commercial and residential buildings will play a predominant role in achieving state climate goals. Take New Jersey, for example, where residential and commercial buildings account for the second largest share of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to modeling done by the state, in order to achieve its climate goals of 80% emission reductions by 2050, residential and commercial sector emissions must be reduced by 89%.

To achieve this level of emission reductions, New Jersey has found that “policies requiring net-zero emissions for new construction must be paired with aggressive requirements for electrification of older residential and commercial buildings as soon as practicable.” In other words, the last thing we should be doing is fighting efforts to electrify.

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Also posted in Gas to Clean, Methane, New Jersey, New York / Comments are closed

Maximizing the historic job creation opportunity waiting in our nation’s old and leaking oil and gas wells

After over 150 years of boom and bust oil and gas development, there are over a million inactive, unplugged oil and gas wells across the country. A new study published in the journal Elementa describes how, when not properly plugged, these wells can contaminate groundwater and emit methane as well as harmful chemicals into the atmosphere that endanger the economy and public health in communities where they are found. It also provides suggestions for how to maximize the environmental benefits of efforts to plug these wells.

There are 57,000 documented “orphan” wells across the country, meaning they have no owner of record, at least not one that’s still in business, and hundreds of thousands more orphan wells that are not documented. State, federal and tribal governments are left with the responsibility of plugging these wells – some of which have been abandoned for decades.

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Also posted in Methane, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

New innovative tool empowers utilities to reduce emissions in investment planning

By Erin Murphy and Christie Hicks

As the United States moves toward decarbonization, cities and states must use all means available to reduce climate pollution, and natural gas utilities should be at the forefront of this rapid energy transition. Gas utilities are the subject of increasing scrutiny because plans to expand and fortify their infrastructure could lock in greenhouse gas emissions and costs for decades. As the industry reckons with its role in a decarbonized future, advocates, utilities and regulators alike are calling for a carefully-managed transition that avoids costly long-term investments. New York has been at the forefront of this effort, seeking to balance ambitious climate goals with outdated natural gas investment planning processes.

To help utility planners align business decisions with environmental targets, EDF engaged MJ Bradley and Associates to develop the Gas Company Climate Planning Tool, an innovative new framework for New York and other states.

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Also posted in Gas to Clean, General, Methane, New York / Comments are closed

Fossil fuel industry failed Texans during the freeze, now it’s using the crisis to attack renewables

February’s energy crisis did something no Texas politician has done in decades: It brought Texans together to demand our leaders in Austin fix the flawed energy system that failed so miserably, caused nearly $300 billion in damage and killed more than 200 Texans.

Unfortunately, fossil fuel interests and their willing allies in the Texas Legislature are pushing bills that would have absolutely zero impact on the problems that caused the crisis and would instead place additional costs on producers and customers of electricity generated by solar and wind. The Houston Chronicle called the bills a “cheap shot at renewable energy” and “shameless political opportunism aimed at helping the oil and gas industry profit off Texans’ misery.”

At issue are Senate Bill 1278 and House Bill 4466, companion bills that would force onto wind and solar power generators a disproportionate percentage of ERCOT’s “ancillary service” costs — costs that are currently divided equally among all electricity generators and then passed on to their customers.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Texas / Comments are closed

Cutting methane emissions from natural gas gives EU global climate leverage

Policymakers around the world increasingly recognize that along with carbon dioxide, cutting emissions of methane is critical for reaching the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Methane is a key element in the reinvigorated U.S. climate strategy and — for the first time — discussed in China’s latest five-year plan.

Now the EU has a chance to significantly influence methane emission reductions not only within Europe, but globally.

Methane from human activities is responsible for at least 25% of today’s warming. One of the largest emitters is the oil and gas industry. The European Commission Methane Strategy released last October identifies the global oil and gas sector as the most cost-effective opportunity for methane emission reductions.

The key to the EU’s global methane leverage lies in the continent’s vast gas market. A new policy brief by the Florence School of Regulation and Environmental Defense Fund describes policy pathways to unlock the opportunity, while a separate analysis prepared for EDF by Germany’s Enervis Energy Advisors illustrates how a comprehensive policy could offer far-reaching climate benefits.

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