IDNR issues first fracking permit in Illinois

Read the full story in the Southern Illinoisan.

In a historic move, regulators from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Department of Oil and Gas Resource Management on Thursday approved the state’s first fracking permit.

Approval of the permit, issued to Wichita, Kansas based Woolsey Operating Company, comes more than four years after former state governor Pat Quinn signed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act into law, opening the way for the controversial oil-drilling practice to begin in the state of Illinois.

Release of treated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing contaminates lake

Read the full story in Science Daily.

Hydraulic fracturing has enabled a domestic oil and gas boom in the US, but its rapid growth has raised questions about what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that result. Researchers now report that treating the wastewater and releasing it into surface waters has led to the contamination of a Pennsylvania watershed with radioactive material and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

EPA halts Obama-era rule on methane pollution

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has halted an Obama administration rule to cut down on pollution of methane, a greenhouse gas produced at oil and natural gas drilling wells.

New York’s Methane Reduction Plan: A Model for Other States

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

On Wednesday May 17, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new Methane Reduction Plan, designed to advance the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. To date, state efforts have primarily focused on lowering emissions of carbon dioxide, which is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. The state has, however, recognized the need to also address methane emissions. Although methane is emitted in smaller quantities than carbon dioxide, it is much more potent, trapping up to 84 times more heat in the earth’s atmosphere in the first 20 years after it is released (on a per ton basis). Thus, according to the Governor’s office, “methane reduction is a key piece of New York’s policies to address the risks from climate change.”

The Methane Reduction Plan targets the three major sources of methane emissions: (1) the oil and gas sector, (2) agricultural producers, and (3) landfills. It identifies 25 actions to be taken across the three areas by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”), Department of Public Service (“DPS”), Energy Research and Development Authority, and Department of Agriculture. Interestingly, of those 25 actions, almost half are aimed at controlling emissions from the oil and gas sector. Those controls go significantly further than existing regulations at the federal level and may provide a model for other states looking to more tightly regulate oil and gas operations.

2016 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award Winner: Marathon Petroleum Corporation — Illinois Refining Division

Download the document.

Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) has extensive refining, marketing, and transportation operations concentrated primarily in the Midwest, Northeast, East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Southeast regions of the United States. MPC is the third-largest refiner in the U.S. and the largest in the Midwest. The Robinson refinery, also known as the Illinois Refining Division (IRD), is located in Robinson, Illinois, has a crude oil refining capacity of approximately 231,000 barrels per calendar day and encompasses approximately 920 acres.

MPC improved the environmental impact of their operations by:

  • reducing solid waste by 2,038 tons;
  • conserving 3,000,000 gallons of water;
  • diverting 393 tons household hazardous waste from landfills;
  • eliminating 18,972 metric tons of carbon dioxide; and
  • restoring 247 acres of certified wildlife habitat.

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.