On Climate, Industry is Focused on Meaningful Actions and Results
Posted September 22, 2021
Three things to keep in mind during Climate Week:
1. Industry-led initiatives continue reducing GHGs
As noted here, The Environmental Partnership and other industry efforts are working. The highlight of The Partnership’s new annual report is that participants in the new flare management program reported a 50% decrease in flare volumes from 2019 to 2020, even as production remained steady. Participants diverted 171 billion cubic feet of natural gas from being flared, which is equal to how much gas is used in the U.S. by 2.9 million homes during a typical winter heating season.
Meanwhile, methane emissions per unit of production, measuring emissions intensity, fell nearly 70% between 2011 and 2019 across five of the major producing regions in the U.S. (see EPA and U.S. Energy Information Administration data.)
Finally, remember that increased use of natural gas produced by our industry is the primary reason U.S. power-sector emissions of carbon dioxide, another important greenhouse gas, are at their lowest levels in a generation.
2. Natural gas helps cut CO2 emissions, address energy poverty
As noted above, natural gas is critical to U.S. progress on reducing CO2 emissions from a key source, the power sector. Between 2005 and 2019, natural gas was responsible for 61% of cumulative CO2 emissions reductions in that sector.
As pointed out in this post, reliable, affordable natural gas also is essential for the energy transition, partnering with wind and solar for power generation when renewables are unavailable. And abundant domestic natural gas allows U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas to other nations, allowing them to extend electricity service, improve air quality and lower their own CO2 emissions.
3. Industry continues to think strategically, act tactically
As API President and CEO Mike Sommers said when The Partnership’s report was released, there’s more work to do. And the industry continues to take action. There’s The Partnership’s continued growth and its impact. There’s also the long-range vision of API’s Climate Action Framework, which details technologies, innovations, policies, climate reporting and other distinct steps and tools to bring about a lower-carbon future.
Near-term, API supports the regulation of methane from new and existing sources and has said it will work with the Biden administration to develop effective rules. Last week, API gave a thumbs up to the administration’s announcement of a U.S.-European Union agreement to cut emission. Frank Macchiarola, API senior vice president of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs, in a statement responding to the U.S.-EU pledge:
“We welcome global efforts that build on U.S. oil and natural gas producers’ progress in cutting methane emissions intensity while operating under environmental standards that are among the highest in the world.”
A final note on methane and CO2 emissions. There are good reasons API supports different policy approaches on them – an economy-wide price on carbon, while on methane supporting regulation but opposing a new tax as has been proposed in Congress.
First, methane emissions are unintentional during production and transportation of natural gas and oil – often referred to as “fugitive.” It’s the primary component in the natural gas sold to customers, so there’s a good deal of incentive to capture as much of it as possible. It not only makes business sense, it also makes environmental sense to responsibly develop these essential resources. That’s why The Environmental Partnership has created a multi-program approach to voluntarily reduce emissions, and regulating them from new and existing sources also makes sense. API President and CEO Mike Sommers in a speech earlier this year:
“API members have made great progress in reducing methane over the past four years and believe smart regulation can accelerate this progress. We are willing partners in shaping a regulatory environment that is sensible, workable and promotes further technological advances and innovation. Our industry can continue lowering emissions while supplying the energy our nation needs.”
At the same time, imposing a new natural gas tax that doesn’t cover other industries that have significant emissions – including agriculture and waste management – is unfair and could hurt needed production. In an interview with E&ENews, Macchiarola called the levy duplicative and a punitive tax that will harm producers and ultimately add costs. Macchiarola:
“On the one hand we have a situation where we’ve been regulated at the federal and state level on methane and are working with the Biden administration on new regulations that would capture new and existing sources. And then along comes this fee.”
On the other hand, for CO2 emissions such as from electricity generation and transportation, an economy-wide, government carbon price policy is the most impactful and transparent way to achieve meaningful results. Follow this link to see the key parameters in developing a carbon policy.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.
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