Far More Methane Leaking at Oil, Gas Sites in Pennsylvania than Reported

Far More Methane Leaking at Oil, Gas Sites in Pennsylvania than Reported

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: February 16, 2018 SNIP: Leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and gas sites in Pennsylvania could be five times greater than industry reports to state regulators, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund. Drawing from peer-reviewed research based on measurements collected downwind of oil and gas sites, along with government data, the EDF analysis estimates that the state’s oil and gas wells and infrastructure leak more than 520,000 tons of methane annually, largely due to faulty equipment. “This wasted gas causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants and results in nearly $68 million worth of wasted energy resources,” the group said in its report, released Thursday. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a greenhouse gas about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a century. The Trump administration has been working to roll back several policies and initiatives that were designed to rein in methane emissions, most recently to end requirements to limit leaks at oil and gas sites on federal...
Trump Takes Aim at Obama-Era Rules on Methane Leaks and Gas Flaring

Trump Takes Aim at Obama-Era Rules on Methane Leaks and Gas Flaring

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: February 13, 2018 SNIP: The Trump administration has taken its first step on a slow path to loosen curbs on methane emissions from oil and gas operations on public land, after legal roadblocks stymied its efforts to quickly set aside Obama-era rules on the potent greenhouse gas. Matt Watson, associate vice president for climate energy at Environmental Defense Fund, said the Trump administration’s proposal would roll back every emissions reduction provision of the Obama rule. It would revert to a regime so lax that between 2009 and 2015, oil and gas producers on public and Indian lands vented, flared and leaked about 462 billion cubic feet of natural gas—enough gas to supply about 6.2 million households for a year. Estimated losses to the taxpayers in royalties ranged from $23 million to nearly $60 million annually. The Obama administration had estimated its rule to rein in BLM emissions would curb the equivalent of 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, as much as the greenhouse gas emissions from 950,000 vehicles. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to halt the Obama rule to rein in emissions from new oil and gas operations, and the agency abandoned an effort to collect information to write a rule for existing oil and gas facilities. The latest draft inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions shows methane emissions from oil and gas operations in 2016 were equivalent to 201.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, down 1 percent from the prior year but up 5 percent from 2012 levels. That puts the methane emissions from oil and gas industry leaks on...
Natural gas has no climate benefit and may make things worse

Natural gas has no climate benefit and may make things worse

SOURCE: Think Progress and The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and CEMUS (PDF) DATE: November 13, 2017 SNIP: The evidence is overwhelming that natural gas has no net climate benefit in any timescale that matters to humanity. In fact, a shocking new study concludes that just the methane emissions escaping from New Mexico’s gas and oil industry are “equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.” If the goal is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, a recent report by U.K. climate researchers finds “categorically no role” to play for new natural gas production. Back in 2014, a comprehensive Stanford study published in Science concluded “A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates. Leaks from the nation’s natural gas system are an important part of the problem.” The Stanford analysis found a leakage rate of 5.4 percent (plus or minus 1.8 percent) — enough to give natural gas no net climate benefit for decades, even if it only replaced coal (which it doesn’t). These conclusions have been confirmed by data and observations from a later 2014 study as well as 2016 satellite data and surface observations analyzed by Harvard researchers. Certainly there is not complete agreement between every study, but there is little doubt that U.S. methane leakage rates are considerably higher than the official numbers from the EPA, which themselves are mostly based on industry-provided estimates, not actual...
Natural gas emissions will blow Europe’s carbon budget at current levels

Natural gas emissions will blow Europe’s carbon budget at current levels

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 7, 2017 SNIP: Governments have drastically underestimated methane emissions from natural gas and will miss the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2C unless they urgently scale down its use, a major new study has found. Continuing natural gas emissions at present levels will add 0.6C to global warming and, with other fossil fuel use, exhaust Europe’s carbon budget – the amount it can safely and fairly emit – in less than a decade, says the report (PDF) by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. It concludes that Europe must phase out all fossil fuels including gas by 2035 and decrease emissions by 12% per year – far beyond its current ambitions – to keep to the Paris 2C...
What has fracking done to our air quality?

What has fracking done to our air quality?

SOURCE: Houston Chronicle DATE: October 31, 2017 SNIP: Urban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s. Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress. But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution. As a result, in recent years there has been a spike of research to determine what the extent of emissions are from fracked oil and gas wells – called “unconventional” sources in the industry. While much discussion has surrounded methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, less attention has been paid to air toxics. [W]herever hydrocarbons are produced, refined or stored, there will be some emissions of pollutants. In the age of fracking, the large operations at conventional well sites have been replaced by hundreds of well pads dotting the landscape. Each requires the transportation of water, chemicals and equipment to and from these pads as well as the removal of wastewater, and none is regulated like any larger facility would be. As a result, unconventional production has not only increased truck traffic and related emissions in shale areas, but also established a renewed source of hydrocarbons. They enter the atmosphere from leaks at valves, pipes,...