Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 5, 2016
Last week EPA launched a new program it hopes will encourage U.S. oil and natural gas companies to voluntarily focus on reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations. EPA:
The Methane Challenge Program will provide partner companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices within five years. Transparency is a fundamental part of the program, and partner achievements will be tracked by submitting annual data directly to EPA.
Two points: First, our industry is already on it, deploying technologies, innovation and yes, best management practices, effectively capturing methane from energy operations. And it’s succeeding. EPA data shows that since 2005 methane emissions from field production of natural gas have dropped 38 percent, and emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have dropped 79 percent – at a time of surging natural gas production.
It’s happening because energy companies are working hard to collect methane, the main component of natural gas, for the market. Indeed, the abundance of domestic natural gas is helping lower consumer energy costs for U.S. consumers – including those in the Northeast, which historically has paid more for electricity than other parts of the country – and increasing average annual household disposable income by $1,200.
Posted March 22, 2016
We’ve read the articles about how affordable natural gas – much of it from the Marcellus Shale in next-door Pennsylvania – has benefitted New York and specifically New York City. So it’s puzzling to hear about a recent effort in New York to block expansion of an Upstate natural gas storage plant in the name of a “climate emergency,” as one activist put it – puzzling because natural gas is doing more to reduce U.S. emissions than any other fuel. The New York Times reports:
“The irony is this,” said Phil West, a spokesman for Spectra Energy, whose pipeline projects, including those in New York State, have come under attack. “The shift to additional natural gas use is a key contributor to helping the U.S. reduce energy-related emissions and improve air quality.”
Unfortunately, this is an example of out-of-the-mainstream activism at work, threatening to roll back important American progress on emissions that has occurred during a period of economic growth and rising domestic energy output. We say this is out of the mainstream because we reckon the real alarm would sound among New Yorkers if access to affordable natural gas got harder for lack of infrastructure – pipelines, pumping stations, storage installations and the like.
Posted March 4, 2016
Just recently saw this article on National Geographic.com, suggesting the United States made a significant shift in its energy economy in 2015:
Consider what happened last year alone. The amount of electricity from coal-fired power plants hit a record low while that from natural gas generators hit a record high. Also, renewable energy added the most new power to the electric grid, and annual carbon emissions reached a 20-year low.
First, a reminder that new power capacity added to the grid doesn’t translate directly to new power. Below, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that in terms of electricity generation change (from 2014 to 2015) at utility-scale facilities and including distributed solar, natural gas led in net generation:
That’s not knocking renewables, just an illustration of today’s energy reality and a reminder of the oft-overlooked energy, economic and climate benefits accruing to the United States from increasing natural gas use.
Posted February 8, 2016
It has been clear for months that the Obama administration has lost interest in a true “all-of-the-above” approach to the nation’s energy – one that is being led by surging oil and natural gas production right here at home. Consider:Despite multiple State Department reviews filled with science showing that rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline would result in higher emissions, the president killed the project and the 42,000 jobs it would support during its construction phase. Despite the fact U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are near 20-year lows, the administration is pushing ahead with its Clean Power Plan that favors only certain kinds of renewable energy instead of letting states to freely choose lower-emissions sources while ensuring affordable and reliable energy for consumers. Although methane emissions from natural gas production are dropping, EPA and the Bureau of Land Management are moving forward with additional layers of regulation that could raise the cost of natural gas production and chill investments needed to bring cleaner-burning gas to market. Despite bipartisan agreement that the Renewable Fuel Standard is a failure – that mandates for increasing ethanol use actually increases greenhouse gas emissions – EPA continues to push for more ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.
The administration’s latest anti-energy revolution proposal is an ill-conceived plan to slap a $10-per-barrel fee or tax on crude oil that could increase the cost of a barrel of crude by 30 percent and add 25 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline.
Posted February 4, 2016
With the president scheduled to put forward his last budget next week, here’s a short list of principles that should guide energy policy – because all will help sustain and grow the ongoing U.S. energy revolution. They include: reliance on industry innovation that has been the driving force behind America’s energy renaissance – innovation that launched the surge in shale energy production, prompting increased natural gas use and resulting in lower carbon emissions; embracing the successful, free-market approach to energy and economic growth while lowering emissions by basing decisions on sound science; and allowing more opportunities for energy exploration and development.
Erik Milito, API’s director of upstream and industry operations, talked about the policy pathway to energy growth and American prosperity during a conference call with reporters.
Posted January 22, 2016
Timing is everything. With much of the Middle Atlantic braced for “Snowzilla,” the Obama administration announced a new layer of federal regulation that likely will make it more difficult and costly for energy producers to deliver the affordable, reliable, clean-burning natural gas that so many U.S. consumers rely on for winter warmth.Imagine: Millions of Americans, covered in snow and ice, as the president and his team advance a regulatory blizzard with unnecessary Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rules on methane that ignore emissions reductions already being realized and that threaten to stifle future production – potentially at great cost to consumers, the economy, government revenue streams and U.S. security.
Posted January 21, 2016
“Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either,” he continued.
The New York Times was quick with a rebuttal, writing: “Private oil and gas companies, however, were a driving force behind the most important changes in the United States’ energy landscape over the past seven years: lower fossil fuel emissions and a reduction in dependence on imported oil. … A glut of domestic oil has helped lower prices and imports. The new supply of domestic natural gas has helped lower greenhouse gas emissions. Electric utilities have traditionally relied on coal as the cheapest fuel source, but turned to natural gas as it became cheaper.”
Posted December 4, 2015
Part of the U.S. success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the significant drop in emissions of methane, the primary component in natural gas, from development operations. Since 2005, methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have plummeted 79 percent – with technology and innovation allowing industry to capture more of a product that can be delivered to consumers. This has occurred even as U.S. natural gas production has steadily climbed, thanks to shale, safe fracking and horizontal drilling.
It’s a shining chapter in a success story that shows how free market forces have taken the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this country. In turn, the U.S. is leading the world in reducing GHG emissions.
No matter. Despite these advances, EPA is proposing additional methane regulations on oil and gas wells and transmission. Unfortunately, more regulation could mean less – less fracking, less energy and, quite possibly, less progress in reducing emissions.
Posted November 16, 2015
According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), increased use of natural gas – part of the abundance produced by the American energy revolution – is a big reason monthly power sector CO2 emissions in this country were near a 27-year low earlier this year. And, the United States leads the world’s top economies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy.
We say this to make the point that on the eve of Paris, the United States is achieving the kinds of emissions reductions everyone else is just talking about. We have results where others have only rhetoric. As the Obama administration prepares its envoys for Paris, it has a ready-made, real-world case study in place that it should be talking about at the summit.
Posted April 16, 2015
For months we’ve argued that new federal regulation targeting methane emissions from energy development is unnecessary and could undermine the success industry initiatives already are achieving. Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, from earlier this year:
“Methane is the product we bring to market. We sell methane – that is natural gas. That’s what we want to sell. … We don’t need regulation to tell us to do that because we are incentivized to do that. It’s not a byproduct or something. It is the product we’re selling. … We’re developing these technologies because we want to more and more capture natural gas.”
This is exactly what’s happening, as new data from EPA shows.