Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted January 29, 2015
With EPA opening public hearings (subscription required) on its proposed new ground-level ozone standards, it’s important that we not let some key facts get lost in the wave of comments and anecdotes that results when there’s an open microphone available.
At issue is EPA’s plan to make more restrictive the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb. The agency is collecting input until mid-March before finalizing the rule this fall.
We’ve made the case before that the existing standards are working, that our air is getting cleaner and will continue to do so with the current rule. In short, there’s no good reason to make the standards more stringent. That’s what the science shows, as experts detailed at EPA’s hearing in Washington, D.C. (here and here). Indeed, EPA’s own data shows that ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980, including 18 percent since 2000.
Posted January 22, 2015
The Bakken Magazine: “Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”
This is the dreaded phrase on the “Go to Jail Card” that you’ve likely drawn, or at least heard of, when playing the game of Monopoly. Drawing this card is an all-around bummer. You lose a chance at scooping up valuable property before others do, you don’t get to collect $200 that you might need to purchase property, and it increases the chance that you lose the game. But at least it’s just a game. Right?
Wrong. What many people probably don’t realize is that we’re in a real-life game similar to Monopoly, but this one is focused on the global oil market, not property. And, it just so happens that we’re stuck holding the “Do not pass Go” card.
Posted January 16, 2015
Bloomberg: Ending restrictions on U.S. crude exports could cut gasoline prices as much as 12 cents a gallon, a Columbia University study co-written by a former adviser to President Barack Obama has concluded.
Without the partial ban, domestic production might increase as much as 1.2 million barrels a day by 2025, making the U.S. more resilient to global supply disruptions, according to the study.
“Easing energy export restrictions does not raise gasoline prices for consumers,” Jason Bordoff, a former energy and climate adviser to Obama who is now director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said in a telephone interview.
Posted January 15, 2015
Charting some of the latest Bureau of Land Management (BLM) data on federal oil and natural gas activity – which mostly shows continuing decline.
First, BLM issued fewer new oil and natural gas leases in fiscal year 2014 than in any year since FY1988. That year 9,234 new leases were issued, a number that fell to 1,157 in FY2014. Last year’s number was a retreat from FY2013, when 1,468 new leases were issued.
Other indicators also show declining oil and natural gas opportunity in areas controlled by the federal government.
Posted January 15, 2015
As we look at the Obama administration’s plan to impose new regulations on methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations, some important points.
First, when it comes to methane emissions, the White House is focusing on a relatively small piece of the big picture. Data from EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program shows that methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems (161.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) represent just 28.5 percent of total methane emissions (567.3 million metric tons CO2 equivalent). That’s a fairly small wedge in the overall pie.
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Posted December 31, 2014
So long, 2014. From an energy standpoint, you’ll be missed. Let’s count the ways:
Surging domestic oil and natural gas production – largely thanks to safe hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – is driving an American energy revolution that’s creating jobs here at home and greater security for the United States in the world.
It’s a revolution with macro-economic and geopolitical impacts, for sure. But it’s also a revolution that’s benefit virtually every American.
Posted December 30, 2014
UPI: House Republicans will work to create the "architecture of abundance" needed to take advantage of North American energy leadership, a lawmaker said.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee published a 105-page strategy document meant to highlight the agenda of the incoming Republican-led Congress. It says federal policies are ill-suited to develop the infrastructure needed to take advantage of the oil and gas production boost in the United States.
"Creating this architecture of abundance is slowed at every step by archaic federal rules that can cause years of delays and even block some pipeline and power line projects outright," the paper reads.
Rep. Fred Upton, the committee's chairman, said the new Congress would work to advance its blueprint when it comes into power in January.
Posted December 10, 2014
Two U.S. energy production updates and a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing the economic impacts of America’s shale energy revolution – which is driving overall U.S. production.
A chart from energy/economics blogger Mark J. Perry shows the impact of U.S. energy production on energy imports – measuring net petroleum imports as a share of products supplied. The chart shows steady increases in imports from the mid-1980s to an apex of more than 60 percent in 2005. Today, we’re looking at a percentage share that’s as low as it has been in four decades.
Posted December 9, 2014
New research by the University of Texas shows what other studies have shown: methane emissions from natural gas production are lower than previously estimated. The UT study found that emissions represent just 0.38 percent of production – about 10 percent lower than a 2013 study by the same research team.
The UT study checked two sources of methane emissions in natural gas production: processes to clear wells of accumulated liquids to increase production, called liquid unloadings; and pneumatic controller devices that open and close valves.
The study found that just 19 percent of pneumatic devices accounted for 95 percent of emissions from that equipment, and that just 20 percent of wells with unloading emissions that vent to the atmosphere accounted for 65 percent to 85 percent of those emissions. David Allen, the study’s principal investigator:
“To put this in perspective, over the past several decades, 10 percent of the cars on the road have been responsible for the majority of automotive exhaust pollution. Similarly, a small group of sources within these two categories are responsible for the vast majority of pneumatic and unloading emissions at natural gas production sites.”
The results suggest that technologies and practices already in use by industry – voluntary efforts and those to comply with federal green completions rules that become standard in January – are working to reduce methane leaks.
Posted December 4, 2014
One key to sustaining and growing the ongoing U.S. energy revolution is to increase access to America’s oil and natural gas reserves – specifically, gaining more access to reserves under federal control, onshore and offshore.
And a revolution is what we’re seeing. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic crude output topped 9 million barrels per day for the fourth week in a row, a production level not seen since the mid-1980s.
As great as that news is, it could be better because America’s energy production growth – generating new jobs, growing the economy and increasing our energy security – is occurring on state and private lands. More access to reserves in federal areas would help expand the revolution, generating even more benefits.