With new rules about methane waste issued earlier this year by the Environmental Protection Agency for private lands (lawsuits are pending, of course) and rules for federal and tribal lands being formulated by the Bureau of Land Management, the cloud of methane could be on its way out. The BLM rules — designed to reduce natural gas waste from “flaring, venting and leaks from oil and gas production” — are scheduled for adoption by November. Adoption before the election is important so a new president cannot reduce regulation necessary to control this pollution.
Plugging the Leaks estimates that nearly 5,400 direct and indirect jobs will be created annually in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing. With full and continuing adoption of leak reducing technologies and practices at new and modified oil and gas facilities, this would suggest creation of over 50,000 jobs over the first decade of full implementation of methane standards.
When inhaled, ozone smog can impair lung function, trigger asthma attacks, and aggravate diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, in some cases leading to premature death. Children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory conditions are the most at risk from ozone smog pollution, which can drive them to stay indoors in the warmer months when smog levels are highest, robbing children of their summers and others of their ability to work and recreate out of doors. However, the health impacts associated with ozone smog produced by pollution solely from the oil and gas industry have never before been quantified.
The bottom line of the NASA study is that 25 points of emission – gas wells, storage tanks, pipelines and processing plants – are responsible for about one-fourth of all the methane leaking into the atmosphere over the Four Corners.
And the point of a new Environmental Protection Agency rule, forthcoming Bureau of Land Management regulations and the NASA study is not to shut down oil and gas production, but to monitor equipment and mend leaks that likely hurt industry bottom lines as much as the environment.
Methane (CH4) impacts climate as the second strongest anthropogenic greenhouse gas and air quality by influencing tropospheric ozone levels. Space-based observations have identified the Four Corners region in the Southwest United States as an area of large CH4 enhancements
We applaud the BLM and EPA for taking action, and LPEA for taking a step forward on a project that makes good economic and environmental sense, Though a step in the right direction, we do need a comprehensive approach to resolve some of our toughest air, land and water quality issues so, as with the Gold King mine spill, the public is not left footing the bill.
“And even though it’s still relatively new, positive results are already obvious. A survey of oil and gas operators in the state earlier this year, conducted by the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions, showed that Colorado’s rule has improved air quality and promoted worker safety. Also, many in industry are profiting because, instead of releasing natural gas into the atmosphere, it is being used to heat homes and power buildings.”
“Oil and gas producers acknowledge it is in their interest to curb leaks; it gives them more natural gas to sell. They say they are stepping up monitoring efforts, and have increased the use of “green completions” at shale wells to capture methane emitted at the end of the fracking process, rather than flaring it at the well head.”
New research on oil and gas industry compliance with methane emissions regulations released today by the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions (CMES) reveals that oil and gas industry representatives in Colorado feel that Colorado’s Regulation 7 is effective and that its benefits outweigh its costs.
Canada, Mexico and the U.S. agreed to reduce the escape of oil and gas-generated methane by 45 percent by 2025. They also pledged that half of their energy would be generated from clean sources and to phase out government fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.