Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted July 8, 2015
Before getting into the latest in a series of research studies on energy-related methane emissions, it’s important to stay focused on the big picture.
Data from EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report published this spring shows that net methane emissions from natural gas production fell 38 percent from 2005 to 2013 – even as natural gas production rose dramatically. Also: Methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells declined 79 percent from 2005 to 2013, EPA found.
That’s the appropriate context for 11 new studies just published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, reporting research in the Barnett Shale play in North Texas. The studies follow others coordinated by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). One released in 2013 found that methane emissions from natural gas drilling were a fraction of previous estimates. Another released earlier this year found that that vast majority of natural gas facilities – from the production phase to distribution via inter- and intra-state pipeline networks – recorded methane loss rates of below 1 percent.
Posted May 28, 2015
If implemented, the stricter ozone standards could be the costliest regulation ever, potentially reducing U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, according to a study by NERA Economic Consulting for the National Association of Manufacturers. The U.S. could see 2.9 million fewer jobs or job equivalents per year on average through 2040.
Yeah, that’s big.
Certainly, for those kinds of impacts Americans would expect them to be justified. But EPA’s proposal is starkly lacking in terms of the science and public health.
Posted May 27, 2015
With national ozone levels falling, some activists argue for stricter federal standards the best way they can – by pointing to the relatively few areas in the United States where ozone levels remain above the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb).
Yet, think about that. If an urban area like Los Angeles or Houston currently is out of attainment with the standard set at 75 ppb, how will lowering the national standard to 65 or 60 ppb – which EPA is considering – make a difference in those and other non-compliant areas? Good question.
The fact remains that the current standards are working. EPA data shows ozone levels declined 18 percent between 2008 and 2013.
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 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 November 25, 2014
Experts believe EPA soon will issue its proposal for the five-year review of Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, perhaps as early as this week. Some important points to consider as the agency prepares what could be the costliest regulation ever imposed on Americans:
First, our air is getting cleaner under the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) standards set in 2008. EPA reports that national average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980 – including 18 percent since 2000.
Posted November 19, 2014
A couple of data points to remember with EPA poised to propose new, lower ground-level ozone standards, perhaps as soon as next month:
Air quality is and has been improving under the current, 75 parts per billion (ppb) standards, which are still being implemented across the country. Meanwhile, EPA reports national average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980 and 18 percent since 2000.
Against that backdrop, EPA staff reportedly is recommending a new primary ozone standard of between 60 and 70 ppb, which could put 94 percent of the country out of compliance – potentially stunting job creation and economic growth for little, if any, health benefit.
Posted September 12, 2014
One of the oft-repeated claims of ethanol producers is that higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 are better for air quality than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. Short response: No. And while we’ve addressed the ethanol/air quality claim recently here and here, spurious assertions often have more lives than Lulu, my daughter’s cat. So let’s look at the facts and credible research again.
We’ll underscore “facts and credible research,” because an advocacy group is promoting a study on ethanol, air quality and potential cancer risks that isn’t an original study at all. Rather, it’s an overly simplistic exercise in data aggregation that ignores the confounding effects of different test procedures, laboratories and fuel properties. In other words, it’s a crummy analysis that would send real scientists running in the other way.
Posted June 3, 2014
Reuters: Rising U.S. imports of crude oil from Canada's oil sands have not increased greenhouse gas emissions from the country's oil refineries because they have been offset by refining of cleaner domestic crudes, a report from a private sector think tank said on Monday.
The report, from industry consultants IHS CERA, comes as the Obama administration moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, under new rules aimed at reducing America's longstanding reliance on burning coal to generate electricity.
The oil sands sector has faced frequent criticism from environmentalists concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. imports of carbon-rich Canadian oil-sands crudes grew by 900,000 barrels per day to more than 2 million bpd between 2005 and 2012, according to the IHS CERA report.
It said they did not result in higher greenhouse-gas intensity from the energy sector, however, as other crudes imported from abroad were supplanted by so-called tight oil from domestic shale-oil deposits.
Posted July 17, 2012