Energy Exchange

Two chemicals that remind us why we should exercise caution with the oil industry’s wastewater

Over the past few years, we’ve written a lot about the wastewater generated from oil and gas production — specifically, how little is known about what’s in it and the potential risks of exposure.

But as states try to set standards for how to safely treat and dispose of this waste, there are two chemicals in particular that deserve to be among the regulatory priorities.

The first is a class of synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — PFAS for short. Members of this class, often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are highly persistent in the environment, are known to cause adverse health impacts in humans. This can include a range of symptoms, including damage to the immune system, low infant birth weights and cancer.

The second chemical is 1,4-dioxane. Short-term exposure to this carcinogen can cause immediate health impacts, like eye, nose and throat irritation and impaired lung function. Prolonged exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage, as well as cancer.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed

New multi-state collaboration makes an important commitment to electric trucks and buses

As our nation grapples with a historic public health crisis, 15 states and the District of Columbia are showing leadership by committing to address a dangerous culprit that makes us more vulnerable to COVID-19 and climate change: diesel pollution from trucks and buses.

These pollutants have significant negative consequences on air quality and health. Despite comprising just 10% of vehicles on the road across the U.S., trucks and buses are responsible for 57% of fine particulate matter, 45% of oxides of nitrogen and 28% of greenhouse gas emissions for that sector.

Besides increased planetary warming, pollution from diesel vehicles leads to a higher rate of asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths — ailments that disproportionately affect people of color and disadvantaged communities, which often border freight corridors, ports and depots. A growing body of evidence suggests that people with respiratory illnesses, often caused or exacerbated by transportation-related pollution, are more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Washington, DC / Tagged | Comments are closed

New well integrity rules make Colorado a leader in well safety for workers and neighbors

The state of Colorado is poised to adopt some of the nation’s most sophisticated and protective regulations designed to prevent its 60,000 oil and gas wells from leaking or exploding.

Colorado has a history of leading on oil and gas regulatory issues to reduce risks to families, workers and the environment, including the nation’s first regulations to address climate-damaging methane emissions from the industry in 2014. In the wake of the 2017 Firestone tragedy and the passage of a major oil and gas reform bill (SB 181) in 2019, the state has undertaken a whole slate of rule modernizations. Well integrity, for which rules have not been updated since 2008, is up next.

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Also posted in Aliso Canyon, Methane / Comments are closed

New study finds elevated health risks due to pollution from oil and gas activity in Colorado

By Ananya Roy and Tammy Thompson

As production of oil and gas in the United States has expanded, it’s no longer uncommon to see rigs and well pads nestled in communities. For example, Weld County in Colorado ranked fourth in the nation for population growth in 2017, and has issued thousands of new permits for oil and gas extraction in the past few years. Emissions from the intensive energy development sprouting along highways, in fields and within sight of homes, playgrounds and school yards has led to concerns about rising pollution from this industry and the subsequent health risks.

Communities are concerned about all of the emissions from these operations but focus on the brew of volatile organic compounds that include benzene, toluene and ethyl benzene, since some are known carcinogens or have established impacts on the brain, lungs and blood. VOC emissions, however, vary considerably between different processes. Well sites and changing weather conditions either spread or concentrate the pollution over different distances and directions, suggesting that intermittent measurement campaigns are inadequate to capture population exposures and risks.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2018

By Adam Peltz & Nichole Saunders

Keeping an eye on what happens with domestic oil and gas regulation is a bit like herding cats. We’ve seen encouraging progress on air quality issues related to oil and gas, but an equally critical front that’s seen major action is protection of our land and water resources.

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development but their practices and rules vary significantly. Add the recent attention around industry’s impact on local communities – from earthquakes and the risk of spills to increased traffic and local air pollution – and it’s easy to miss the big trends that dominated regulatory agendas in 2018.

EDF devotes a significant amount of time tracking this activity, and 2018 was a busy year. Over a dozen states completed rule updates and other types of improvements this year on a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2018.

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Also posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, produced water, produced water, State, Texas, Water, Wyoming / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

These red and blue states are tackling climate change since Trump won’t

By Keith Zukowski, Communications Project Manager

If you’ve been focused on recent reports of climate disaster, or on the Trump administration’s relentless attacks against environmental safeguards and climate science, you’re probably worrying we’re not making progress – at all.

But look a little closer, right here in the United States, and you’ll see that people aren’t waiting around. Instead of giving in to a warmer, more chaotic world, states across the country have stepped up, and into, the vacuum left by the federal government.

They’re implementing creative, innovative solutions that tackle climate change while prioritizing people, our economy and the environment. While federal policies will ultimately be necessary to fully take on climate change, these states are proving that action is both doable and good for the economy.

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Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, New Jersey, North Carolina, Renewable Energy, Wyoming / Comments are closed