Energy Exchange

3 things to watch as New Mexico begins hearing on new oil and gas air pollution rules

Under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico has made oil and gas air pollution and methane reductions a focus of regulatory improvements, restoring enforcement teeth to the governor’s Oil Conservation Division and finalizing a strong methane waste rule that bans routine venting and flaring earlier this year.

These critical policy efforts will reach a climax starting Monday, Sept. 20, as the state’s Environmental Improvement Board considers landmark new rules proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department that have the potential to dramatically cut pollution from the oil and gas industry, clean up the air and protect the health of local communities.

Here are three things to watch as the EIB hearings unfold.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

As Texas fails to stop flaring, EPA must act

Routine flaring in Texas is, well, too routine. It’s wasteful, harmful for health and the climate, and getting permission to burn gas instead of finding a productive use for it is far too easy in our state. Over 1 trillion cubic feet of Texas gas have been vented or flared by operators in the past decade — as much gas as 14 million Texas households use in an entire year.

Under mounting pressure from investors, communities and oil and gas operators, factions of industry have made recent public commitments to reduce this wasteful practice. For example, the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition announced a collective goal to end routine flaring in Texas by 2030.

This may sound like progress, but in reality it’s yet another decade of wasteful flaring and a pledge that comes with no commitment to the regulatory changes vital to make it happen statewide. We can’t wait that long.

Read More »

Also posted in Colorado, Methane, Methane regulatons, Texas / 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.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / 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.

Read More »

Also posted in Colorado, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

What new Permian research means for U.S. methane policy

By Dan Grossman and Ben Hmiel

Newly released research is shedding more light on the largest sources of methane emissions in the nation’s largest oilfield.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and has a huge impact on the current rate of global warming. The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest emitters.

Using a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera, we surveyed over a thousand sites across the Permian Basin to get specific information about the types of facilities, equipment and events that make the Permian Basin the highest-polluting oilfield in the country. Three things immediately stood out.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

Methane controls mean cleaner air on the Navajo Nation

By Megan Kelly and Jon Goldstein

Policy action at both the tribal and federal levels this spring is creating promising momentum for cutting down on methane pollution on the Navajo Nation and across the Colorado Plateau, a step in the right direction for tackling climate change. Reducing methane waste would also improve public health and bring much-needed revenue to tribal and state governments.

In late April 2021, the Senate voted to restore an Obama-era U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas drilling. The Trump administration had previously rolled back this rule and eliminated federal requirements that oil and gas companies detect and fix methane leaks from their operations.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly from Arizona; Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján from New Mexico; and Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper from Colorado, all voted in favor of moving toward reinstating those important requirements.

Read More »

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