Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted December 15, 2020
Let’s make a couple of points from last week’s EPA actions – one that will bring transparency to some of the agency’s rulemaking processes and another that leaves in place effective standards for microscopic soot.
Transparency first. The goal in EPA’s new benefit-cost rule is pretty straight-forward: Americans should be able to judge whether the benefits of future Clean Air Act regulation are justified by potential costs to society. The new rule will help by requiring that future regulation under the act must be written using sound analyses, where data to evaluate environmental, scientific and economic impacts be transparent and replicable.
Many of the natural gas and oil industry’s opponents reject bringing cost-accountability to the development of regulation. Many of them also subscribe to a more-is-better federal regulatory approach – which gets us to point No. 2.
Posted August 14, 2020
Three reasons EPA’s newly modified rule on methane is good for the environment and U.S. energy – because both are critically important for our nation’s growth and prosperity:
1. Industry will keep reducing emissions while innovating for the future
2. The rule is consistent with the federal Clean Air Act
3. Effective state regulation is recognized
Posted August 4, 2020
Let’s follow up on the recent news coming out of The Environmental Partnership – that the group is opening membership to industry’s midstream sector and that participants are discussing the best ways to reduce routine flaring.
Both are big-time developments; both show that the Partnership is doing what it set out to do when it was born in December 2017. Both will help protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – even as our industry produces the energy Americans count on every day.
Adding midstream companies (including pipelines and storage infrastructure) comes as the Partnership reports more than tripling its membership, including 36 of the top 40 U.S. natural gas producers. It’s more than numbers. Each new member company means a new commitment to improve environmental performance in the field. Growth means the Partnership’s program to reduce methane emissions is extending further across the country. And now, here comes the midstream.
Posted July 6, 2020
Smart regulatory reforms from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) support responsible energy development and strengthen the economy, while protecting human health and the environment. EPA’S proposed Benefit-Cost Rule under the Clean Air Act certainly fits with that approach.
The proposal would improve the rulemaking process by clarifying the environmental, scientific and economic impacts of newly proposed rules for the public, the industry and all stakeholders.
Posted April 14, 2020
Some points and data that help frame EPA’s proposed rule on National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM), which would retain all six of the current standards:Annual concentrations of PM2.5 have dropped 39% since 2000, and the U.S. has reduced emissions that can contribute to PM – including an 84% drop in sulfur dioxide (SO2), and a 54% decrease in nitrogen oxide (NOx) – since 2000. Fuel switching to clean natural gas in the power sector played an important role in those reductions. This progress can be helped by continued implementation of existing regulations.
Also: Retaining the current PM NAAQS is supported by the absence of compelling new evidence to lower the existing standards. Another NAAQS review was completed in 2015, and at that time an economic analysis indicated there could be a significant impact on the income of families and potential job losses if a lower NAAQS option was selected.
And: EPA’s proposal is consistent with the recommendation of the agency’s independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which voted 5-1 to keep the current standards.
Posted September 24, 2019
A key factor in EPA’s recent decision not to directly regulate methane is the simple fact that existing regulation of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with natural gas and oil production also reduces methane as a co-benefit.
It might surprise some, but on this point current EPA officials are aligned with their agency predecessors under President Obama.
Posted August 29, 2019
With EPA’s reconsideration of its New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) that address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with natural gas and oil production, some insist the changes will trash environmental protections.
This “rollback” narrative is false and largely designed to play to the extreme environmentalist crowd. Contrary to that view, modifying the NSPS could reduce duplication with state programs, provide greater clarity for industry in its regulatory compliance and, ultimately, further lower methane and other emissions and protect the environment by making it easier for operators to gain approvals for use of new, innovative technologies to detect fugitive emissions for repair. In fact, this procedural correction is best described as a realignment with the agency’s obligations under the Clean Air Act.
The well-worn “rollback” tale also dismisses the effective role of technology, innovation and industry initiative in reducing emissions – such as The Environmental Partnership. It discounts industry’s strong motivation to reduce emissions, which it has done in growing measure amid increased natural gas and oil production.
Posted April 22, 2019
Earth Day 2019 finds the United States much better off environmentally than it was nearly 50 years ago, when the first Earth Day was marked in 1970. Much of the credit for that belongs to the nation’s energy sector where, thanks to the U.S. natural gas and oil revolution, Americans can talk about sustainable energy, economic growth and environmental/climate progress – all in the same breath of markedly cleaner air. …
Most importantly, on Earth Day 2019 we see multiple benefits of a modern energy mix, anchored by abundant natural gas and oil, which is at the heart of growth and simultaneous progress on important environmental and climate fronts. The modern U.S. natural gas and oil industry is leading in driving this progress.
Posted March 18, 2019
The oil and natural gas industry is laser-focused on reducing methane emissions from production for two very important reasons.
First, the risks of climate change are real, requiring real solutions. Our industry takes these risks seriously, and we are driving solutions – evident in our innovation and technical work and in our long working relationship with the EPA.
Second, our members are in the business of providing natural gas, of which methane is the chief component, for clean electricity generation, to heat Americans’ homes and to supply manufacturers and other businesses that have realized billions in cost savings as a result. There’s no question that industry is highly motivated to capture as much methane as possible for progress on climate goals and for its customers. The results speak for themselves.
Posted December 11, 2018
As debates continue over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its ethanol mandates, let’s remember that when the RFS was enacted more than a decade ago it was supposed to jumpstart a commercially viable cellulosic ethanol industry – ethanol made from the leaves, stems and other fibrous parts of a plant.
This has not happened. Far from it. Despite increased mandates under the RFS for cellulosic ethanol, those mandates have dwarfed actual production. The result is a costly proposition for American consumers and an object lesson on what can happen when government tries to use policy to favor a certain technology. Let’s explore the issue.