Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted October 7, 2014
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has a new piece that calls for federal regulation of methane emissions from oil and natural gas production and distribution. Reducing methane emissions is a good idea – and industry has been doing it for years – which makes talk of new regulatory regimes seem odd.
Voluntarily, industry efforts have reduced methane emissions from fracked natural gas wells 73 percent since 2011, according to recent EPA data. That’s actually a fantastic number – one that parallels EPA’s greenhouse gases inventory showing a nearly 40 percent decrease in overall methane emissions from 2006 to 2012 – while natural gas production grew 37 percent.
Posted October 1, 2014
The Washington Post: Is a four-year college degree worth it? Generally yes, but the results vary quite a bit across majors — and can even vary widely within majors.
That’s the takeaway from new research by Brad Hershbein and Melissa Kearney at The Hamilton Project. The authors analyzed Census Bureau data to find out which college majors earned the most and the least. Topping the list are the engineering fields, to no one’s surprise. Some of the least-earning majors are related to education, theater and art. Over a lifetime, the median expected earnings for a drama or theater arts major is lower than that of someone with a two-year associate’s degree.
But the report found that regardless of major, “median earnings of bachelor’s degree graduates are higher than median earnings of high school graduates for all 80 majors studied. This is true at career entry, mid-career and end of career,” the authors write.
Posted September 30, 2014
Some talk – some take to the streets – pushing for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and natural gas industry is actually doing it. New EPA data supports:
- Methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems decreased 12 percent since 2011.
- The largest reductions come from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells – down 73 percent since 2011.
- Industry’s overall greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) decreased 1 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.
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 September 3, 2014
Following up on last week’s rebuttal of a truth-challenged attack on hydraulic fracturing in a USA Today op-ed, in which we detail how federal and state regulation, combined with industry standards are protecting the environment, water supplies and communities.
The op-ed by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Amy Mall opens by posing a false choice for Americans: economic and energy security from development using fracking or safety. It continues:
… a controversial new extraction technology known as "fracking" — combined with unprecedented exemptions for the industry from bedrock federal environmental and public health laws — has fueled a recent explosion in domestic oil and gas development. And safeguards have not kept pace.
Fracking isn’t new. Earlier this year the U.S. marked the 65th anniversary of the first commercial use of hydraulic fracturing. Fracking pre-dates McDonald’s, diet soft drinks, credit cards and more – even Barbie. It’s a fact, and saying otherwise is dishonest.
Posted August 22, 2014
The national standard for ground-level ozone hardly needs tinkering. As noted earlier this year by Howard Feldman, API’s director of scientific and regulatory affairs, air quality in the U.S. has been steadily improving in recent years, and the health case for a more stringent ozone standard, which EPA may propose, hasn’t been made:
“We recognize that EPA has a statutory duty to periodically review the standards. However, the current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards. Tightened standards could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas. These could be the costliest EPA regulations ever.”
Costly nationally and to the states individually. A report for the National Association of Manufacturers says the U.S. could see a $270 billion per year reduction in GDP and 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040. We’ve looked at potential state impacts in North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky and Michigan. Today, Arkansas:
Posted August 21, 2014
As with other states we’ve recently highlighted – North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana and Kentucky – the impacts of more stringent standards for ground-level ozone on Michigan could be wide and significant. According to a recentreport from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Michigan could see $75.3 billion gross state product loss from 2017 to 2040 and 83,092 lost jobs or job equivalents per year.
Posted August 18, 2014
Albuquerque Journal (Former Sen. Pete Domenici): America has been handed a great gift, the gift of technological breakthroughs like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for oils and natural gas.
This gift, if we handle it properly, has the potential not only to free our nation from being hostage to other nations, but to allow Europe and other regions to free themselves from the tyranny of dependence on Russian sources of oil and gas.
Think how much differently our allies in Europe would behave in this time of crisis if they had the infrastructure, and the access, to handle natural gas and oil from America, Canada and Mexico.
New Mexico has played an important, I would say critical, role in this potential geopolitical and economic revolution.
Posted August 15, 2014
Every county in Ohio would be in nonattainment or non-compliance with an ozone standard of 60 parts per billion (ppb), which EPA is considering to replace the current 75 ppb standard. Counties in red are those with ozone monitors located in them; those in orange are unmonitored areas that could be expected to violate the 60 ppb standard, based on spatial interpolation.
The potential economic costs to Ohio would be significant. The state could see $204.3 billion in gross state product loss from 2017 to 2040 and 218,415 lost jobs or job equivalents per year. On a practical level, manufacturers wouldn’t be able to expand to counties in red or orange unless other businesses shut down, and federal highway funds could be frozen.
Posted August 14, 2014
Earlier this month the National Association of Manufacturers issued a report measuring the potential impacts of a new, stricter ground-level ozone air quality standard that’s being proposed by EPA. The estimated national results are economically devastating: reduction of U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year, 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040 and potentially increased natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and households.
The picture is the same on a state-by-state basis. Over the next few days we’ll highlight some of the individual state impacts from the report, starting with North Carolina.