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 30, 2016
Methane emissions have dropped significantly. Since 2005, emissions from field production of natural gas have dropped 38 percent, and emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have plunged 79 percent.
These facts bear repeating in light of the Obama administration’s announcement that it is pursuing yet another set of methane regulations. Not only are the additional regulations duplicative and unnecessary, given industry’s success in reducing emissions under current regulations, but the new rules could actually undermine progress.
Posted March 10, 2016
When EPA announced a push for additional regulation on methane emissions from new oil and natural gas operations late last year, we said it looked like a solution in search of a problem – especially considering the agency’s own data showing that since 2005 methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells had fallen 79 percent.
Regulators gonna regulate. And then regulate some more.
With the Obama administration’s announcement that it wants to regulate methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources – again, where remarkable reductions already are happening – shows EPA and the White House much more concerned about extreme agendas than the needs of American consumers.
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 13, 2016
Absent from EPA’s plans was any acknowledgement that methane and carbon emissions are already down. Recognizing progress we’ve already made – and the market factors contributing to that success – is critical to avoiding costly, duplicative regulations that could undermine that progress, as well as economic growth.
Posted December 14, 2015
The New York Times reports that weekend exultation over the new global climate agreement was quickly replaced by the realization that talking about emissions goals in Paris could be dwarfed by what it takes to produce actual results:
Before the applause had even settled … world leaders warned that momentum from the historic accord must not be allowed to dissipate. “Today, we celebrate,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s energy commissioner and top climate negotiator. “Tomorrow, we have to act.” With nearly every nation on Earth having now pledged to gradually reduce emissions of the heat-trapping gases … much of the burden for maintaining the momentum shifts back to the countries to figure out, and carry out, the concrete steps needed to deliver on their vows.
Actually, the figuring out part has been done and real emissions reductions have been realized in the United States – without the heavy hand of government, without one-size-fits-all frameworks, without economy-hamstringing interventions.
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 December 1, 2015
This week’s climate summit in Paris will be filled with talk of ways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s an important discussion for sure, but it’s one that should focus on achievable, real-world initiatives. A couple of starting points for an action agenda:
The first is an acknowledgement – that the availability of safe, reliable energy is fundamental to lifting people – and entire nations – from poverty. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called energy the “the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability.” With the International Energy Agency telling us that more than a billion people around the world don’t have electricity, it would be a mistake for the Paris summit to do anything that impedes or blocks access to energy. The world needs more energy, not less.
The second point a realization by the summiteers that private markets, not command-and-control government interventions, offer the best avenue to advance climate objectives while growing energy supplies – progress without hamstringing economies and hindering individual opportunity.
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 October 12, 2015
Methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems continue falling. EPA, in an update to its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, says that methane emissions decreased from 77 million metric tons CO2 equivalent 2013 to 73 million metric tons CO2e last year. This continues a significant downward trend over the past few years.
The significance is this: Further reductions in methane emissions argue strongly against EPA’s position that additional regulation is needed. And, indeed, the agency is working on new layers of methane regulation.
Let’s think this one through. Methane emissions are falling under current the current regulatory regime, yet EPA and its supporters say that further reductions won’t happen without more regulation. (If you feel like you’ve heard this argument before it’s because you have – see here and here on EPA’s ozone proposals.) But here’s what we know: Methane emissions associated with oil and natural gas systems are falling – at a time when natural gas production is dramatically increasing.