Federal methane rollbacks spark new opposition from 12 major utilities

Backlash continues to grow against the Trump administration’s efforts to deregulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The coalition opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s rollbacks now includes major oil and gas companies¹, a midstream gas transmission operator, investors representing over $5.5 trillion in assets under management and 12 of the nation’s largest utilities

These utilities, who use natural gas produced by oil and gas companies for electricity generation and delivery to commercial and residential consumers, have expressed strong opposition to the proposed regulations, recognizing national standards as the “foundation” of industry efforts to reduce methane emissions.

The public comment period, which began on Sept. 24, offers downstream energy providers a key opportunity to publicly add their voice to the broad set of stakeholders supporting federal regulation of methane in the oil and gas sector.

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Four ways EPA methane rollbacks threaten American natural gas

At the behest of the American Petroleum Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to eliminate nationwide limits on methane pollution, sending America’s natural gas industry backwards to the days of uncontrolled emissions. This dangerous proposal threatens the climate, the communities living near oil and gas development and the increasingly vulnerable status of American natural gas in a transition to a net-zero carbon emission economy.

Any business depends on four fundamentals to operate successfully: demand from customers, acceptance from society at large, financial capital to invest and talent to do the work. America’s natural gas industry is no different.

Eliminating methane standards would increase risk to each part of this foundation, making this proposed rollback a prime opportunity for risk-conscious executives and investors to speak out this fall. Read more

Buckle Up: Methane Monitoring is Going Mobile

A “better, faster, cheaper” methane leak detection solution used to be an elusive unicorn of the oil and gas industry. Yet, since EDF commenced its methane innovation work in 2014, there has been a mass proliferation of innovative methane detection companies, big and small. With new ideas and new technologies, innovators are challenging old assumptions and pushing the frontier of what is possible.

Stanford and the Environmental Defense Fund Mobile Monitoring Challenge launched in 2018 to independently and rigorously assess a selection of the most promising technologies available today to help oil and gas companies detect, pinpoint and estimate methane leaks from upstream production facilities.

The results of this challenge were published today in the journal Elementa – and the findings offer a glimpse towards a promising new era of higher frequency monitoring. Even as the Trump Administration attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency’s common-sense methane regulations, some companies are looking to innovative technology to go above and beyond what is currently required. The results are significant beyond U.S. borders as well. Numerous international oil companies, including the members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, will require higher frequency, accurate methane monitoring to help achieve their methane reduction commitments.

Here are the three main takeaways from the Mobile Monitoring Challenge study.

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Industry momentum builds for nationwide methane regulation

Oil and gas companies in the United States are the latest to add their voices to the broad set of stakeholders supporting federal regulation of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector. These companies have a major responsibility to reduce methane emissions, a key step in the energy transition. This week in Houston, at CERAWeek, Shell, ExxonMobil and BP took important steps to support nationwide direct methane regulation, with Shell urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to not deregulate methane emissions and to even tighten standards.

There is more opportunity than ever before to regulate and reduce emissions in ways that work for industry and the environment. As ExxonMobil wrote, federal methane regulation “helps build stakeholder confidence, and provides long-term certainty for industry planning and investment while achieving climate related goals.”

The federal regulation of methane emissions is an essential effort that builds on proven state regulatory models and positive efforts that dozens of companies are already practicing as part of sound business operations.

It’s time for more companies to speak up, because without nationwide methane regulation, industry is only as strong as its weakest link.

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Climate pollution can spark more tech innovation. Really.

Methane has made quite an entrance into climate science in the last few years.

Though long recognized as a potent greenhouse gas – more than 80 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in the short term – its significance in our battle against climate change has only recently been quantified. The oil and gas industry, for example, is among the largest emitters of methane on the planet, and research (including some by EDF scientists) has documented that far more methane seeps out of wells, pipelines, valves and other points in the oil and gas supply chain than energy companies and official emission inventories report.

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ExxonMobil and Shell lead an industry divide on Trump climate rollback

This post was co-authored by Rosalie Winn, attorney for Environmental Defense Fund.

Methane emissions from the American oil and gas industry waste valuable resources, accelerate climate change and severely cloud the credibility of natural gas in the low carbon transition. Unfortunately, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has proposed to weaken standards limiting pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities.

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Harvard Management Company: Private equity has opportunity to step up on methane

Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Cappucci, Senior Vice President of Compliance and Sustainable Investing at Harvard Management Company (HMC). In a recent blog post, Michael shared his outlook on the methane opportunity for oil and gas companies, along with his opinion on the pace of change within the industry.

Below is the second part of our conversation, where Michael offers new insights on investor ESG engagement and its correlation to portfolio performance. He also talks about private equity’s somewhat quiet stance on methane, and the sector’s potential to bring about change among mid-size operators who have yet to tackle methane emissions.

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Investors call on BP, Exxon, Shell to defend EPA methane regulations

Last week, investors representing $1.9 trillion assets under management called on 30 oil and gas companies, urging them to publicly oppose the EPA’s proposed weakening of its methane rules. This letter is signed by investors including CalSTRS, the New York City Comptroller’s Office, and Robeco, all of which have joined together to say no to these regulatory rollbacks.

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Joint venture methane risk is also a climate opportunity

This blog was co-authored with Meghan Demeter, Program Analyst, EDF

With mounting concern about the state of the climate and increasing speculation about natural gas’ role in decarbonizing energy markets, oil and gas companies face growing scrutiny from the public and investors. Some companies are stepping up with pledges to reduce emissions of methane from their worldwide operations.

But there’s a catch.  Read more

Comprehensive climate reporting must include methane: New report shows you how

Just last month 13 of the world’s largest oil and gas majors—including ExxonMobil, BP and Shell —came together for a new commitment to reducing a key super pollutant. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is the second leading contributor to climate change and over 80 times more potent than carbon when leaked into the atmosphere in the short-term. What’s more surprising? The coalition’s new methane target proceeded despite an uncertain regulatory landscape in the U.S.

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