Study: Much more natural gas is leaking than government inventories suggest

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Laura Legere

June 21, 2018

When fracking in tight shale deposits began to open vast new regions of the United States to oil and gas development at the start of the decade, a question troubled researchers: Just how much of the unearthed gas was leaking on its way from deep wells to delivery points? 

A new article in the journal Science, synthesizing five years of research by more than 140 scientists at 40 institutions, offers the first comprehensive answer on a national scale.

It estimates that the U.S. oil and gas industry emitted 13 million metric tons of methane in 2015 across the supply chain — from new and old wells, pipelines, processing equipment and gas lines beneath city streets.

The lost gas amounts to 2.3 percent of total U.S. gas production — below the leak rate that is generally understood to preserve the climate benefits of burning natural gas for electricity instead of coal, but more than 60 percent higher than the official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inventory reports.

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Natural gas could warm the planet as much as coal in the short term

Science Magazine

By Warren Cornwall

June 21, 2018

Natural gas, long promoted as a “clean” alternative to other fossil fuels, may not be so clean after all. That’s because its main ingredient, the potent greenhouse gas methane, has been leaking from oil and gas facilities at far higher rates than governmental regulators claim. A new study finds that in the United States, such leaks have nearly doubled the climate impact of natural gas, causing warming on par with carbon dioxide (CO2)-emitting coal plants for 2 decades. (Methane doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2 does, but while it does, its warming effect is much stronger.)

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Pennsylvania adopts new controls for cutting methane from shale gas wells

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By Laura Legere

June 7, 2018

New shale gas wells in Pennsylvania will have to meet permit conditions that directly control emissions of the greenhouse gas methane for the first time, the Wolf administration announced Thursday as it released final versions of contentious air quality permits that had been under development for two years.

The two general permits will apply to new natural gas wells tapping the Marcellus and Utica shales, and new compression and processing stations built along pipelines. Both permits will go into effect on Aug. 8.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said the permits “are some of the first in the nation to comprehensively address methane emissions from all equipment and processes, and they also address other types of air pollution that contribute to poor air quality.”

 

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Range Resources shareholders demand review of methane emissions

StateImpact

By Jon Hurdle

May 18, 2018

Shareholders at the natural gas driller Range Resources narrowly approved a resolution this week calling on the company to review its policy on cutting methane emissions in a vote that advocates say is the first to succeed on the methane issue at an energy company that operates in Pennsylvania.

Like other shareholder resolutions, the vote was nonbinding, but may signal growing public pressure on the state’s natural gas industry to curb leaks of the greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.

The resolution, which was opposed by the company, was led by the Unitarian Universalist Association, a church pension fund, and was passed by owners of 50.3 percent of the company’s shares.

It called on Range to report on its actions related to methane emissions management, including efforts to “measure, monitor, mitigate, disclose, utilize leak detection and repair” its methods for cutting emissions.

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The shale industry is letting an important resource go up in smoke | Opinion

Patriot-News

By Daniel Doubet

May 22, 2018

Pennsylvania's constitution reads: "The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment." 

Yet, presently, the natural gas extraction industry is literally setting fire to public resources, and deny the public a fair share of resources.

The former Obama administration put in place a rule that requires extractors of methane, oil and gas to capture methane emission, fix leaky equipment to capture the gas and keep it from needlessly escaping into the environment. This does two things: prevents the waste of a limited, public resource and ensures royalties are paid in full to the public.

Additionally, this rule cuts pollution and protects the air we all breathe. 

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Cleaner air takes all of us working together | Opinion

Patriot-News

By Dan Grossman

April 21, 2018 

Founded by William Penn and the Society of Friends, Pennsylvania has a long and proud history of collaboration.

After all, the most difficult and important compromises that led to the foundation of our nation were hammered out in Philadelphia. The history of the Commonwealth is replete with examples of collaboration to solve vexing problems. Oil and gas should not be the exception. 

My home state, Colorado, has somewhat less historical ties to collaboration.

After all, the Centennial State was settled by hardscrabble miners who were often quick to quarrel over the boundaries of mining claims and homesteads. Even today, the state is riven with divisions over water resources, residential development, and oil and gas. 

But every once in a while, cooler heads prevail and Coloradans sit down at a table and work through differences in the name of compromise and the greater good.

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Poll: Public concern grows over natural gas industry’s environmental impact

StateImpact

By Reid Frazier

April 3, 2018

A majority of Pennsylvanians still support the natural gas industry, but a new opinion poll shows the number of people concerned about its environmental impact is growing.

A Franklin & Marshall/StateImpact Pennsylvania poll found that 50 percent of respondents said they support the gas industry — while 42 percent say they don’t. But dig a little deeper, and another picture emerges.

In the latest poll, conducted in late March, 55 percent say the environmental risks of fracking  are greater than its economic benefits. A few years ago, that number was in the 30s.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

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Environmental regulators seeking public input on new shale permits

StateImpact

By Marie Cusick

March 30, 2018

Pennsylvania environmental regulators put a call out Friday for the public to weigh in on their draft final general permits to address methane emissions from new Marcellus Shale well sites and other natural gas facilities.

Methane is the main component of natural gas. Compared to carbon dioxide, it’s much more potent as a climate-warming greenhouse gas, although it stays in the planet’s atmosphere for a shorter time period. It leaks throughout the entire process of developing natural gas — from drilling wells to storing it, and transporting it through pipelines.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

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These Climate Pollutants Don't Last Long, But They’re Wreaking Havoc on the Arctic

Inside Climate News

By Sabrina Shankman

March 19, 2018 

If we can cut back on methane, black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants, it could buy time to solve the trickier problem of CO2.

When people talk about climate change, the focus is often on carbon dioxide, and for good reason. The CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels today will hang around for centuries, building up over time and continuing to warm the planet.

It isn't the only culprit, though. Mixing in are other pollutants that only stick around for a few weeks or years but pack a powerful punch while they're there. And the Arctic, where the average temperature is rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, has become the unfortunate laboratory where researchers can best measure their impact.

The role that short-lived climate pollutants play in the Arctic has repercussions, because what happens in the Arctic affects the entire planet.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

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Environmental group: Methane pollution higher than PA thinks

StateImpact

By Reid Frazier

February 15, 2018

An environmental group says that Pennsylvania’s gas drilling industry is releasing much more methane into the atmosphere than the state is reporting.

Scientists at the Environmental Defense Fund calculated Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale industry is emitting twice as much methane as companies are reporting to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The analysis, posted to the group’s website, is based on 16 peer-reviewed studies funded in part by EDF, including some involving oil and gas companies.

Read enough? Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

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