Will Herbal Fuel Burn Its Personal Bridge?

FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2015, file pool photo, crews work on a relief well at the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles. Southern California Gas Co. said announced Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 that a nearly $120 million settlement has been reached in litigation stemming from a leak at a Los Angeles storage field where a massive methane release forced thousands from their homes. (Dean Musgrove /Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

</div> </div> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Natural gas may have won over some critics because it is replacing the more carbon-intensive coal but its political strength might ultimately lead to its demise: It is pushing to ease methane rules established in 2016 that could do more environmental damage than carbon. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Trump administration is sympathetic — the same group that is now working to undo other Obama-era regulations related to vehicle tailpipe emissions and CO2 limits set on power plants. The <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-09/documents/frnoilgasreconsideration2060-at54nprm20180910.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-09/documents/frnoilgasreconsideration2060-at54nprm20180910.pdf">Environmental Protection Agency</a> released a draft yesterday to ease up the time frame for which oil and gas companies must inspect and fix their leaks for fracking sites on publicly-held lands. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Instead of inspections getting conducted every six months, they could take place anywhere from one-to-two years. And instead of any leaks getting repaired within 30 days of finding them, those drillers now have up to 60 days to address. Even the EPA says that it will cause the release of an additional 380,000 tons of methane into the air, although it will save $75 million in regulatory costs; medical costs and environmental damages are not figured into those energy company savings. </span></p> <p> </p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">But the natural gas companies can’t have it both ways. That is, those companies welcome the positive attention they are getting because their fuel is now the leading source used to generate electricity, at around 34%, and coal is less than 30%, and falling. That move alone has led to a decrease in heat-trapping CO2 releases — 18% less than they were in 2005, notes the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=26232" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=26232"><span class="s2" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=26232">Energy Information Administration</span></a>.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">But methane is 80-times more powerful than CO2 when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. And a study published in the journal&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05517-y" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05517-y"><span class="s3" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05517-y"><i data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05517-y">Science</i></span></a><span class="s1">&nbsp;says that the U.S. oil and gas business emits 13 million metric tons of methane from its operations year. And that is 60% more than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has estimated. In fact, the leak rate from existing operations is 2.3%, which is greater than EPA’s estimate of 1.4%.</span></p>

<p class="p1"><span class="s1">That is still less than 3.2% — the point at which the benefits from switching to coal-to-natural gas are lost, a <a href="https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0221/Will-methane-burn-down-natural-gas-s-bridge-to-the-future" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0221/Will-methane-burn-down-natural-gas-s-bridge-to-the-future">Princeton University </a>study says. Energy companies have a financial incentive to capture those escaping methane emissions because such “wet gas” is sold to chemical and manufacturing facilities that use it as a feedstock for their processes. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">““To compete in today’s energy landscape you have to be both cheap and clean.” Watson said. “The question now is whether leading companies are going to stand up against this misguided effort or let the Trump Administration take the entire industry backward,” <a href="https://www.edf.org/people/matt-watson" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.edf.org/people/matt-watson">Matt Watson</a>, Associate Vice President, Energy, <a href="https://www.edf.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.edf.org/">Environmental Defense Fund</a> said. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><b>Resisting Change</b></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Watson goes on to say that the International Energy Agency has said that global methane emissions could get cut by 75% using technologies that are currently on the market — at little cost to oil and gas operations. Methane is responsible for about one-quarter of the global warming experienced today, he adds. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">But the <a href="https://www.westernenergyalliance.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.westernenergyalliance.org/">Western Energy Alliance</a> has been leading the charge to undo the Obama-era rules, saying in news reports that the regs are full of “red tape.” It also says that the industry is voluntarily taking steps to reduce methane emissions — that they have fallen 40% in recent years, even though natural gas usage has shot way up. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">It’s members include Encana Corp. and Halliburton Co, which have been involved in highly-publicized environmental mishaps: In 2011, the EPA accused of Encana of spoiling water supplies near Wyomings Pavillion natural gas field because of improper drilling techniques. Civic activist, meanwhile, have challenged Halliburton in Duncan, Okla. for allegedly contaminating drinking wells there. </span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">But the good news is that BP, Eni, Exxon Mobil Corp., Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Wintershall have pledged to cut their methane releases while pushing regulators to strengthen those same policies.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The risk of greater heat-trapping emissions in combination with the drinking water contamination is why some environmental groups are leery of natural gas. They see it as blocking the path to a renewable future. Pointing to the International Energy Agency’s studies, the&nbsp;<a href="https://content.sierraclub.org/naturalgas/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://content.sierraclub.org/naturalgas/"><span class="s4" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://content.sierraclub.org/naturalgas/">Sierra Club</span></a>&nbsp;says that such a strategy will still result in temperature rises of 3.5 degrees Celsius by century’s end — far more than the 1.5 degrees-2 degrees Celsius limit set by the Paris climate agreement in Paris.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The harder the oil and gas sectors push, the more resistance they will get. The Trump administration’s proposal will assuredly get challenged in the courts. But if natural gas would lose its support among the population-at-large, it would forfeit its status as transition fuel. Indeed, the biggest risk to the industry is that it would burn its own bridge. </span></p>”>

FILE – On this Dec. nine, 2015, document pool picture, crews paintings on a reduction neatly on the Aliso Canyon facility above the Porter Ranch house of Los Angeles. Southern California Fuel Co. stated introduced Wednesday, Aug. eight, 2018 just about $120 million agreement has been reached in litigation stemming from a leak at a Los Angeles garage box the place an enormous methane liberate compelled 1000’s from their houses. (Dean Musgrove /Los Angeles Day-to-day Information by the use of AP, Pool, Record)

Herbal fuel can have gained over some critics as a result of it’s changing the extra carbon-intensive coal however its political power would possibly in the long run result in its death: It’s pushing to ease methane regulations established in 2016 that would do extra environmental harm than carbon.

The Trump management is sympathetic — the similar crew this is now running to undo different Obama-era laws associated with car tailpipe emissions and CO2 limits set on energy vegetation. The Environmental Coverage Company launched a draft the day gone by to ease up the period of time for which oil and fuel corporations will have to check out and fasten their leaks for fracking websites on publicly-held lands.

As an alternative of inspections getting performed each and every six months, they might happen any place from one-to-two years. And as a substitute of any leaks getting repaired inside of 30 days of discovering them, the ones drillers now have as much as 60 days to deal with. Even the EPA says that it is going to reason the discharge of an extra 380,000 lots of methane into the air, even if it is going to save $75 million in regulatory prices; clinical prices and environmental damages don’t seem to be figured into the ones power corporate financial savings.

However the pure fuel corporations can’t have it each tactics. This is, the ones corporations welcome the certain consideration they’re getting as a result of their gasoline is now the main supply used to generate electrical energy, at round 34%, and coal is not up to 30%, and falling. That transfer by myself has resulted in a lower in heat-trapping CO2 releases — 18% not up to they have been in 2005, notes the Power Data Management

However methane is 80-times extra tough than CO2 with regards to trapping warmth within the surroundings. And a learn about printed within the magazine Science says that the U.S. oil and fuel industry emits 13 million metric lots of methane from its operations yr. And that’s 60% greater than the U.S. Environmental Coverage Company has estimated. In reality, the leak price from current operations is two.three%, which is bigger than EPA’s estimate of one.four%.

This is nonetheless not up to three.2% — the purpose at which the advantages from switching to coal-to-natural fuel are misplaced, a Princeton College learn about says. Power corporations have a monetary incentive to seize the ones escaping methane emissions as a result of such “rainy fuel” is bought to chemical and production amenities that use it as a feedstock for his or her processes.

““To compete in as of late’s power panorama it’s important to be each reasonable and blank.” Watson stated. “The query now could be whether or not main corporations are going to get up by contrast erroneous effort or let the Trump Management take all the trade backward,” Matt Watson, Affiliate Vice President, Power, Environmental Protection Fund stated.

Resisting Trade

Watson is going on to mention that the Global Power Company has stated that world methane emissions may get minimize by means of 75% the usage of applied sciences which might be these days in the marketplace — at little price to grease and fuel operations. Methane is answerable for about one-quarter of the worldwide warming skilled as of late, he provides.

However the Western Power Alliance has been main the rate to undo the Obama-era regulations, pronouncing in information experiences that the regs are stuffed with “purple tape.” It additionally says that the trade is voluntarily taking steps to scale back methane emissions — that they’ve fallen 40% lately, despite the fact that pure fuel utilization has shot means up.

It’s individuals come with Encana Corp. and Halliburton Co, that have been interested in highly-publicized environmental mishaps: In 2011, the EPA accused of Encana of spoiling water provides close to Wyomings Pavillion pure fuel box as a result of mistaken drilling ways. Civic activist, in the meantime, have challenged Halliburton in Duncan, Okla. for allegedly contaminating consuming wells there.

However the excellent news is that BP, Eni, Exxon Mobil Corp., Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Wintershall have pledged to chop their methane releases whilst pushing regulators to give a boost to those self same insurance policies.

The danger of higher heat-trapping emissions together with the consuming water contamination is why some environmental teams are leery of pure fuel. They see it as blocking off the trail to a renewable long run. Pointing to the Global Power Company’s research, the Sierra Membership says that this type of technique will nonetheless lead to temperature rises of three.five levels Celsius by means of century’s finish — way over the 1.five degrees-2 levels Celsius prohibit set by means of the Paris local weather settlement in Paris.

The tougher the oil and fuel sectors push, the extra resistance they’ll get. The Trump management’s proposal will usually get challenged within the courts. But when pure fuel would lose its fortify a few of the population-at-large, it will forfeit its standing as transition gasoline. Certainly, the most important chance to the trade is that it will burn its personal bridge.

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