Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 11, 2016
Two questions posed by the Times: How to explain a departure from the historical linkage between economic growth and increased carbon emissions? And, can the decoupling of economic growth and rising emissions be a model for the rest of the world?
The explanation isn’t all that complicated. We’ve talked about it for a number of months (see here and here). It’s natural gas. The increased use of clean-burning, domestically produced natural gas is the main reason the United States leading the world in reducing carbon emissions during a period of economic growth.
Posted April 8, 2016
Great discussion this week at a program focused on the role of natural gas in America’s future economy, hosted by the Hudson Institute. The discussion couldn’t have been timelier, given surging U.S. natural gas production and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s recent projection that for the first time ever, natural gas will be the United States’ No. 1 fuel source for electricity generation this year.
Yet, the natural gas discussion quickly, necessarily, turns into a conversation about building new gas infrastructure – needed to serve areas that for lack of infrastructure are either isolated from the resource or the supply is significantly constrained, impacting utilities, consumers and businesses.
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 29, 2016
A quick list of some of the benefits realized by the United States thanks to modern hydraulic fracturing and advanced horizontal drilling:
Surging oil and natural gas production
The United States is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, resulting in lower oil imports and an opportunity for the U.S. to compete with other producers in the global market.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil production from safely fractured wells totaled more than 4.3 million barrels per day in 2015, about half of all U.S. oil output.
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 21, 2016
Interesting weekend remarks from the Energy Department’s deputy secretary on U.S. oil and natural gas exports to Europe – especially so because DOE is the key federal agency in allowing domestic liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects to proceed.
Energy Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was speaking at a forum hosted by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, Belgium, when she discussed the dramatic change in energy markets caused by the U.S. shale revolution. Sherwood-Randall:
“What’s really changed in the global energy landscape is American abundance of supply of both oil and gas. … We are now poised to become significant exporters of both oil and natural gas. We began the export of natural gas just last month, and we are also beginning to export oil.”
Posted March 15, 2016
With the Obama administration’s decision not to include the Atlantic in the next federal offshore leasing program, let’s connect some dots that put this unfortunate decision in a fuller context – one where the administration is choosing retreat instead of progress with its energy strategy.
First, America’s energy revolution is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that has put this country on a path toward economic growth, consumer benefits, environmental progress and a more secure energy future. Yet, omitting the Atlantic from the five-year leasing program that will largely guide offshore development from 2017 to 2022 is retreat, not progress, in efforts to produce more energy right here at home.
It’s the wrong path for America – a path also defined by administration policies that have resulted in declining oil and natural gas production on federal lands, an onslaught ofunnecessary regulation and continuation of the harmful Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It’s a path that has made energy infrastructure development more problematic, a path that will negatively impact American households and one that could see the U.S. become less secure and less competitive in the world.
Posted March 11, 2016
Ethylene is in the polyvinyl chloride tubing of the stethoscope. The plastic in the sharps box, the IV bag and the otoscope caps more than likely is made of petroleum-based chemicals. Same for the bottle that holds the Betadine – itself containing N-vinylpyrrolidone, made from acetylene, derived from oil. The filtering layer in the face masks may include polypropylene, another oil byproduct.
That’s just a quick spin around one exam room. Medical tools and technologies – from computer software to X-ray machines to ventilators to defibrillators and more – plus the power to run them and the high-tech facilities that house them, depend on energy.
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.