Energy Exchange

The connection between jobs and addressing orphan oil and gas wells

All across the country right now, there are tens of thousands of officially documented “orphan” oil and gas wells creating environmental hazards for their communities. These are wells that the oil and gas industry walked away from because they became uneconomic over time. Rather than properly sealing them, they left state and federal taxpayers holding the bag. These wells can be big sources of air, water and climate pollution if left unaddressed.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more of these inactive, unplugged wells that need to be addressed. This is not to mention the potential for adding hundreds of thousands of currently active wells to the orphan well inventory as oil and gas producers struggle to survive the downturn in petroleum prices.

Luckily, efforts are underway in Congress and within the presidential transition plan to address these orphan wells. In his economic plan, President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for a cleaner and healthier future.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, New York, Texas / Comments are closed

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 Colorado, Natural Gas, New Mexico, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed

Data underscores need to strengthen Pennsylvania’s methane rule proposal

In July, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection concluded its public comment period on proposed rules to curb methane emissions from existing oil and gas facilities.

As the state weighs feedback, EDF analysis shows Pennsylvania operators emit over 1 million tons of methane annually — 16 times what they report to regulators — and underscores the need for rules that close existing loopholes to properly address this climate and public health risk.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has already demonstrated leadership on methane with permits to cut pollution from new oil and gas infrastructure. Now Pennsylvania has an opportunity to tackle the vast majority of its methane emissions, which come from existing oil and gas facilities.

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

Pennsylvania bill gives conventional drillers pass to cut corners, lets communities pay the price

In recent years, Pennsylvania has become an epicenter of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing boom. But even as production from “unconventional” wells – those using horizontal drilling and fracking – has grown, nearly 90% of the state’s 120,000 active wells are older, “conventional” vertical ones that typically rely on traditional drilling methods.

What does that mean for Pennsylvanians? Quite simply, it means that smart, commonsense policies for conventional wells matter. A lot.

However, the state legislature is considering SB 790, which could unravel well-established oil and gas protections while shifting many costs associated with conventional production to taxpayers. As the bill makes its way through the legislature, here are some key facts to keep in mind:

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Also posted in General, Natural Gas / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Pennsylvania has an opportunity to lead on methane as EPA falters

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on its proposal to gut key regulations that reduce climate-damaging methane emissions, and protect communities from pollution from oil and gas development. Methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas responsible for 25% of current global warming, is also the main component of natural gas, which is an important energy resource in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the second-largest natural gas producing state in the U.S. and should act now to ensure its residents do not lose key protections put in jeopardy by the federal government. Gov. Wolf recently committed to join the ranks of states working to limit carbon pollution. By joining the many other oil and gas producing states across the country stepping up to cut methane pollution from existing oil and gas infrastructure, Pennsylvania has a chance to lead by quickly advancing their current rule proposal.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / 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, Colorado, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, produced water, produced water, State, Texas, Water, Wyoming / Tagged , , | Comments are closed