Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted July 16, 2020
Improvements to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) – the first modernization proposed in nearly half a century – should help clear red tape that can bog down critical infrastructure projects for years and in the process block job creation and affect environmental protection.
The administration’s priority on updating NEPA to streamline infrastructure projects was clear in that President Trump made the announcement. The Council on Environmental Quality estimates that due to NEPA red tape, the average review takes nearly six years, and the average cost to complete a review is $4.2 million.
Modernization of NEPA is long overdue. NEPA review is a chief reason that building infrastructure has become so challenging in this country. A long menu of infrastructure projects has been impacted by protracted NEPA review, not just natural gas and oil projects (see previous posts here and here). These include airports, traffic improvements, wind farms and more.
Posted April 2, 2020
The health and safety of workers, communities and the environment is always a priority for the natural gas and oil industry, and never more so during a global pandemic. That’s why API requested temporary relief for non-essential compliance requirements from the White House and several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Sadly, reasonable efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) among the energy workforce have been misconstrued by some as “regulatory rollbacks.” This blatantly political narrative is misleading, not to mention inconsistent with public health recommendations. As businesses and regulators adapt to changing circumstances – and implement physical distancing and stay-at-home policies – there may be limited personnel to manage the full scope of some non-essential requirements, but the commitment to safety and sustainability remains unchanged.
Posted March 27, 2020
America’s natural gas and oil industry is asking a number of federal agencies to allow a temporary pause in certain non-essential federal compliance requirements, because it’s likely there will be limited numbers of industry workers to manage them amid federal and state-directed efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The health and safety of our workers and their communities is this industry’s No. 1 priority. These non-essential requirements reflect that and primarily include recordkeeping, training, flexibility in the timing of routine inspections where there might be manpower issues due to the pandemic and other non-safety provisions.
Industry is not soliciting a regulatory rollback or trying to excuse itself from compliance obligations.
Rather, it asks federal officials to consider that industry, along with every other segment of our society, is focused on slowing the virus’ spread.
Posted October 18, 2019
There’s nothing more important to our industry than protecting health and safety – of our skilled workers and the communities where they are engaged in supplying Americans with affordable energy for every aspect of modern life and economic well-being.
As energy companies, we know that maintaining the public’s trust and the permission to operate hinge on our ability to work safely and responsibly – caring for the environment, reducing our footprint and continually improving technologies and operations to reduce emissions.
This is the context as we consider a new report on the potential public health effects of natural gas and oil operations by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), using 2015 data to model impacts.
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 September 5, 2019
The U.S. natural gas and oil industry is laser-focused on tackling the dual challenge of delivering energy for all and protecting our planet, keeping pace with record demand for affordable fuels while reducing emissions every step of the way.
By investing in innovative technologies, developing state-of-the-art standards and supporting smart regulations that reduce methane and other emissions, our industry is improving sustainability, particularly for the production of cleaner-burning natural gas.
Posted May 30, 2019
A new Colorado law handing more control over natural gas and oil operations to municipalities, authority that used to reside with the state, risks another law – the law of unintended consequences – that could deal a serious blow to one of our country’s leading energy-producing states.
This week the city of Broomfield became the seventh Colorado community to impose a ban on new natural gas and oil development since introduction of Senate Bill 181, which became law last month. …
Before SB 181’s passage, industry warned the law could disrupt responsible natural gas and oil development by hatching a patchwork, unpredictable regulatory system across the state – with the unintended consequence of imperiling energy development and jobs and economic growth. Regulatory uncertainty can chill sizeable investments in new operations that often have significant lead times
Unfortunately, that uncertainty appears to be growing in Colorado – with national implications because the state ranks sixth in both natural gas and oil production.
Posted April 30, 2019
Soon the federal government is expected to release its updated offshore well control rule, one that improves on its 2016 predecessor by providing flexibility to meet specific challenges across a variety of offshore conditions while encouraging innovation and technologies that help improve safety.
We expect that opponents of natural gas and oil development anywhere to attack the updated rule when it’s released. Yet, fact and logic will weigh heavily against them.
Posted March 20, 2019
Though Colorado has set the gold standard for state regulation of natural gas and oil, some don’t think that’s enough.
Opponents of oil and natural gas are pushing state legislation to let local governments have regulatory authority over industry – “local control” – which in other states has been a way to curtail energy development. If enacted in a state that ranks top 10 in the country in natural gas and oil production, it could have big negative impacts for the state and nation.
Posted January 30, 2019
Reducing methane emissions from natural gas and oil development is a primary industry mission – underscored at last summer’s World Gas Conference, where speakers from all over the world talked about increased methane capture and reduced emissions.
The reasons are clear. Fundamentally, our industry is in the business of producing and delivering natural gas, of which methane is the main constituent. Capturing as much methane as possible is smart and efficient from a business standpoint.
Equally important, natural gas and oil companies recognize that reducing methane emissions is responsive to the expectations of society, which wants energy to be produced safely and in a way that’s environmentally responsible. Operators are innovating and deploying technologies to achieve those goals. …
All of these points are important to counter a faulty narrative – that more government regulation is the only way to reduce emissions. This view often faults efforts to craft a regulatory approach that strives for greater efficiency, is achievable and fosters innovation.