Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted February 3, 2015
After more than six years of delaying, blocking, sidetracking and goalpost-shifting on the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House clearly knows something about political football – specifically, using all of the above to keep Keystone XL on the drawing board and out of the ground.
It’s not a game to the American workers who’ve seen coveted jobs delayed, nor is it fun for the entire country, in terms of blocked economic stimulus and sidetracked energy security.
Now EPA is tagging in with an out-of-left-field assessment of the State Department’s final environmental review. We say that because State’s environmental report was completed a year ago – making five reviews that all basically said Keystone XL would not significantly impact the environment, climate or otherwise.
While other involved federal agencies recently weighed in on the pipeline’s importance to U.S. national interests, EPA – at the 13th hour – says current crude oil prices make it important to “revisit” State’s environmental conclusions.
Unfortunately, for an administration that has practically made a badge of honor out of stiff-arming Keystone XL – in the face of bipartisan congressional support and the broad favor of the American people – EPA is simply providing another excuse for the White House to continue doing nothing.
Posted February 3, 2015
Politico reports (subscription required) that the White House Office of Management and Budget on Friday finished review of EPA’s final rule to set state implementation plan requirements for the agency’s 2008 ozone standards.
Here’s the significance of that piece of wonky news: Even before EPA has finished telling the states how to implement the 2008 ozone standards, the agency already is well into setting new, potentially stricter standards. Regulation for regulation sake? It would be hard to find a better illustration.
Posted January 30, 2015
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 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 12, 2014
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
National Journal: World oil producers have put oil prices into a free fall, refusing to pare back global supplies in the hopes that low prices will derail the fracking-backed production boom in the U.S. and preserve OPEC's power over world energy markets.
But global analysts are skeptical that the move will work.
The basic reason: Prices remain high enough to keep pumping. "Looking out there, it seems like there's a huge amount of oil that can be produced at $60, $70 per barrel," said Michael Lynch, president of consulting firm Strategic Energy and Economic Research, referring to the prices for Brent crude oil, a global reference point.