methane

Canada-U.S. Plan to Nearly Halve Methane Emissions Could Be Huge Deal for the Climate

Obama and Trudeau at White House

At the Canada-U.S. bilateral talks last week President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an ambitious plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector - See more at: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climat...
40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector - See more at: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climat...

The announcement came as welcome news to many environmental groups concerned about the high global warming potential of methane. The gas is 25 to 34 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a century.
 
Methane is a component of natural gas and the recent fracking boom in both Canada and the U.S. has dramatically increased methane emissions from gas production and transportation as well as fugitive emissions leaked from processing stations and pipelines.
 
Scott Vaughan, executive director of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and former Canadian environment commissioner, said the cross-border plan to limit emissions is “really impressive.”
 
“The announcement, if implemented, will lead to reducing [absolute] emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector by about 20 per cent,” Vaughan told DeSmog Canada.

Top Five Climate and Environment Issues for Obama-Trudeau Bilateral Summit

The strained relationship between Canada and the U.S. over the last decade was in no small part due to disagreement over the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. 
 
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a staunch supporter of what he called the “no-brainer” project. President Obama, on the other hand, felt like all sorts of brain should be involved when deciding on the future of such major fossil fuel infrastructure. And he rightfully rejected the border crossing pipeline project, which had clearly failed his climate test.
 
Now, with Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the helm of America’s Hat, the two most intimately tied economies in the developed world have a lot of catching up to do. Even with Keystone XL dead and buried (sort of), environment and energy issues are still top of mind for the two leaders.
 
In a recent Q and A with the Huffington Post, Trudeau acknowledged the timing is right for bold leadership on climate change and the environment: “There is a nice alignment between a Canadian Prime Minister who wants to get all sorts of things done right off the bat and an American President who is thinking about the legacy he is going to leave in his last year in office,” Mr. Trudeau said.
 
“The issues that are important to him and to me are climate change.”
 
Obama and Trudeau already had an informal ‘bromance’ meeting soon after the new Prime Minister took office in November 2015. But now, with the unprecedented Paris Agreement behind them, the two leaders have an incredible opportunity to break new ground on climate action and environmental protection at this formal summit.
 
Here are the top five energy and environment issues these self-proclaimed climate leaders should have on their agenda:

Fracking Supply Chain a Climate Disaster, Doing Little to Uplift Poor Communities: Studies

Two recent studies further call into question the oil and gas industry's claims of the climate benefits and community benefits of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

One of those studies, published in Environmental Research Letters and titled, “Just fracking: a distributive environmental justice analysis of unconventional gas development in Pennsylvania, USA,” concludes that “the income distribution of the population nearer to shale gas wells has not been transformed since shale gas development.”

The other, a report released by Environmental Integrity Project titled, “Greenhouse Gases from a Growing Petrochemical Industry,” examines the post-fracking supply chain and concludes that the petrochemical industry's planned construction and expansion projects announced in 2015 alone are the “pollution equivalent to the emissions from 19 coal-fired power plants.”

Large Methane Leaks Highlight Ongoing Risk to Climate

A new study of the recent methane leak in Aliso Canyon, California confirms that it was the largest methane leak in US history. According to the study, the disaster’s impact on the climate will be equivalent to the effect of annual greenhouse gas emissions from over half a million cars.

Last week at the oil industry gathering CERAweek, Reuters reported Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy revealed that, “Methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas sector are substantially higher than we previously understood.”

Also last week, the Texas Observer reported that the combined methane leaks of the Barnett Shale gas fields was actually greater than the volume of the Aliso Canyon disaster — contributing 8% of nationwide methane emissions. And while the Aliso Canyon well has been capped, the Barnett shale emissions continue on.

High-Profile Trial Begins in Dimock, PA Water Contamination Case

Trial began this week in a case alleging that an oil and gas company contaminated drinking water in Dimock, Pennsylvania. The tiny town is now internationally notorious over claims that drilling and fracking tainted people's drinking water and caused it to become flammable.

This lawsuit is the first such case out of Dimock to reach a jury, nearly a decade after many residents of Carter Road, a short stretch of dirt road in the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania, first noticed that their water seemed to have gone bad.

“We haven't had clean water since he was in kindergarten,” Monica Marta-Ely told reporters during a press conference outside the courthouse on Monday, as she gestured to her 13 year-old son, Jared. “He's in 7th grade now.”

It's a legal case that is as noticeable for the allegations being tried —  that Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. negligently contaminated the water supplying Nolan Scott Ely and his family and that living without water for years was a serious nuisance for the Elys and the Huberts, a family living in a trailer on the Ely's land — as for the claims and evidence that the jury will not hear.

Porter Ranch Methane Leak: Business As Usual Leads to State of Emergency

The ongoing Aliso Canyon methane leak in California — which finally earned a declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Jerry Brown — is a repeat of a story we have seen many times before.

A history of lax oversight by state regulators. Loopholes in weak regulations allowing for corporate cost cutting despite known risks. The revolving door between the oil and gas industry and regulatory agencies that oversee the industry. And politicians who fill their campaign coffers with industry donations.

The real emergency is that until this system changes, the Porter Ranch methane leak disaster in California will just be one more in a series of such events which could have been prevented with basic common sense and safety measures. 

Watch this video for more information:

California Finally Declares State Of Emergency Over Methane Leak That Forced Evacuation Of Thousands

Methane first started leaking from Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility on October 23, two and a half months ago.

More than 2,300 homes have been evacuated in nearby Porter Ranch, a suburb of Los Angeles, and many more people are reportedly applying for help relocating after suffering nosebleeds, rashes, headaches and other serious health impacts due to the gas leak and the sulfuric stench permeating their home town.

DeSmog first reported on the Aliso Canyon gas leak and the unfolding public health crisis in Porter Ranch on December 11, while California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris attending COP21 to burnish his credentials as a climate leader.

By December 22, the California Air Resources Board estimates, as much as 66,000 metric tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that scientists believe to be as much as 35-times more potent than carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2), had escaped from the well.

California Governor Jerry Brown’s Climate Credentials In Question As Massive Methane Leak Threatens Public Health

California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris this week at the COP21 climate talks burnishing his credentials as a climate leader.

Which has a lot of folks back home wondering: Why isn't Governor Brown using his authority to declare a state of emergency to protect the health of Californians currently endangered by the Sempra Energy methane leak at Porter Ranch?

At Tuesday’s High Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Gov. Brown talked tough about his efforts to “dramatically lower” emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane.

“This is probably the most immediate challenge, and the most important thing to do leaving this conference,” Brown said at the event. “Short-lived climate pollutants are something we can tackle.”

And yet, back in the Golden State, a methane leak at Sempra Energy subsidiary Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility has been spewing massive amounts of gas for well over a month and making residents in the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch sick. Hundreds of residents have already been relocated due to health issues associated with the methane leak.

Congress-backed Interstate Oil Commission Call Cops When Reporter Arrives To Ask About Climate

On October 1, I arrived at the Oklahoma City headquarters of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)  a congressionally-chartered collective of oil and gas producing states  hoping for an interview.

There to ask IOGCC if it believed human activity (and specifically oil and gas drilling) causes climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, my plans that day came to a screeching halt when cops from the Oklahoma City Police Department rolled up and said that they had received a 9-1-1 call reporting me and my activity as “suspicious” (listen to the audio here). 

What IOGCC apparently didn't tell the cops, though, was that I had already told them via email that I would be in the area that day and would like to do an interview.

Exclusive: Battle Over Flaming Water and Fracking Reignites As Analysis Prompts Call for Renewed EPA Investigation

At the heart of the international controversy over fracking has been the contention that the oil and gas drilling technique can contaminate people's drinking water, sometimes even causing it to light on fire. One poster child for this claim has been Steven Lipsky, a Texas homeowner who has appeared in a viral video with a garden hose spewing flames and says his water was fouled by fracking.

For years, Mr. Lipsky has fought legal battles — most often with federal EPA investigators finding his claims of contamination credible, while Texas regulators and the drilling company, Range Resources, taking the opposite view.

An analysis released this week, describing research by scientists at the University of Texas at Arlington, may open this case once again. It offers new evidence that the tests taken at Mr. Lipsky's well water by Range Resources and Texas regulators, who reported little or no contamination, were flawed and potentially inaccurate.

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