Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted December 9, 2014
New research by the University of Texas shows what other studies have shown: methane emissions from natural gas production are lower than previously estimated. The UT study found that emissions represent just 0.38 percent of production – about 10 percent lower than a 2013 study by the same research team.
The UT study checked two sources of methane emissions in natural gas production: processes to clear wells of accumulated liquids to increase production, called liquid unloadings; and pneumatic controller devices that open and close valves.
The study found that just 19 percent of pneumatic devices accounted for 95 percent of emissions from that equipment, and that just 20 percent of wells with unloading emissions that vent to the atmosphere accounted for 65 percent to 85 percent of those emissions. David Allen, the study’s principal investigator:
“To put this in perspective, over the past several decades, 10 percent of the cars on the road have been responsible for the majority of automotive exhaust pollution. Similarly, a small group of sources within these two categories are responsible for the vast majority of pneumatic and unloading emissions at natural gas production sites.”
The results suggest that technologies and practices already in use by industry – voluntary efforts and those to comply with federal green completions rules that become standard in January – are working to reduce methane leaks.
Posted November 26, 2014
The New York Times has an editorial urging Washington to regulate emissions of methane – no surprise as “The Gray Lady” has to uphold her “green” bonafides. But methane as an “overlooked” greenhouse gas, as the editorial’s headline states? Hardly.
While the Times may have just discovered methane, industry has been working to reduce emissions – and is succeeding, at a rate that casts doubt on the need for a new federal regulatory layer.
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 November 12, 2014
Newly published API recommended practices for offshore structures supporting oil and natural gas drilling and production operations – reflecting technological advances and updated design applications – can help improve planning, construction and maintenance of important energy infrastructure. They are intended to work together to enhance the approach to offshore structural design.
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 19, 2014
We’ve posted recently on potential roadblocks to the progress America’s energy revolution is providing – posed by administration policies and new regulatory proposals (infographic). Among them are proposed stricter standards for ground-level ozone that could put 94 percent of the country out of compliance, potentially impacting the broader economy and individual households.
Looking at the possible state-level effects of a more stringent ozone proposal in North Carolina, Ohio and Louisiana reveals a clearer picture of potential impacts on Americans’ lives. Kentucky, already at the forefront of a coal-related regulatory push, could see significant economic harm from a new ozone standard, according to a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) report.
Posted August 18, 2014
Louisiana is an important energy-producing state – the country’s No. 2 crude oil producer at nearly 1.45 million barrels per day when federal offshore output is included. The state also is No. 2 in petroleum refining capacity.
Energy development is boosting Louisiana’s economy. Oil and natural gas extraction, refining and the pipeline industries support 287,000 state jobs and billions in household earnings and sales to state businesses, according to arecent study. At the same time, energy activity is part of the reason new, stricter ground-level ozone standards could have major impacts in Louisiana.
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.