EPA Walks Back Methane Rule for Oil and Gas Industry

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Wednesday that it will reconsider a Barack Obama-era rule to curb emissions of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic air pollutants from the oil and gas industry. The rule, which was finalized in June of 2016 and would have gone into effect in June of this year, was expected to prevent more than 500,000 tons of methane emissions by 2025—an amount equivalent to 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. But as soon as it was passed, the rule faced immediate legal challenges from oil and gas companies and several state attorneys general.

Potentially Explosive Methane Gas Mobile in Groundwater, Poses Safety Risk: Study

Read the full story from the University of Guelph.

Potentially explosive methane gas leaking from energy wells may travel extensively through groundwater and pose a safety risk, according to a new study by University of Guelph researchers.

Methane Regulation Under Trump: New Administration Looks to Remove Obama-Era Controls

Read the full story at the Climate Law Blog.

Around this time of year, back in 1859, the first oil well was drilled by Edwin Drake in north-west Pennsylvania. After a slow start – drilling initially progressed at a rate of just three feet per day – Drake struck it lucky and hit oil at a depth of 69.5 feet. The oil was brought to
the surface with a primitive hand pump and collected in a bathtub while the associated natural gas escaped into the atmosphere.

A lot has changed in the subsequent 150 years. The oil and gas industry has developed into one of the country’s most technologically advanced, able to drill deeper and access reserves that Drake never would have foreseen. Despite these advances, however, some things have remained the same. To this day, oil drillers still often allow natural gas to escape into the atmosphere, rather than capturing it. Releases also occur during gas production due to accidental leaks, intentional venting, and incomplete flaring at well sites, storage facilities, and transport systems. The Obama Administration had tried to change that, adopting various regulations to reduce gas leaks, venting, and flaring. These regulations are unlikely to survive under President Trump, however. That’s bad news for anyone concerned about climate change. Or the environment and public health more generally.

Study of fracking in four states uncovers over 6,600 spills

Read the full interview at ResearchGate.

A new study investigating spills from hydraulically fractured oil and gas uncovered 6,648 spills in just four states over a ten-year period. Part of the SNAP Partnership, the study examined data from Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Significant differences in reporting requirements across states made this analysis difficult. Lauren Patterson, a water policy specialist at Duke University, and her coauthors say making this kind of state-level data more uniform and transparent would help regulators and industry reduce the number of incidents. We spoke with her to learn more.

Fracking Presents Big Problems That Towns Have Little Authority to Fix

Read the full story in Governing.

Hydraulic fracturing generates a lot of low-cost energy, but as has been widely reported, it carries with it troubling liabilities. Most of those involve an environmental price paid by the areas where the drilling takes place and oil or natural gas is transported. Localities have limited ability to do anything about them.

BP Advocates for Putting a Price on Carbon

Read the full story from Environmental Leader.

A key oil and gas company is saying that governments internationally need to put a price on carbon to increase the percentage of renewables, natural gas and energy efficiency. BP’s Chief Executive Bob Dudley said in the company’s “BP Energy Outlook 2035” that even though carbon emissions will grow at a slower rate than in the past, they will still rise overall.

BP is part of a group of oil companies that favor such action: ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and StatOil. Those companies don’t generally advocate for taxes or restrictions but they think that such measures would be more efficient than a patchwork of international laws. Moreover, they have major investments in natural gas, which is expected to continue to be the fastest growing fuel in the United States.

Trump Gives Green Light To Keystone, Dakota Access Pipelines

Read the full story from NPR.

President Trump on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for construction of two controversial oil pipelines, the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access, a White House official tells NPR’s Tamara Keith.