Democrats press drillers for data on methane leaks
Democrats are asking 10 oil and gas companies for data on leaks of a global warming gas called methane because these leaks can dramatically increase the contribution of fuels to climate change.
As part of a new investigation announced on Friday, the chair of the House’s Space, Science and Technology committee Eddie bernice johnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice Johnson Backs Texas MP for House Seat The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – Arbery Case, Biden Spends Bill Every Justice Test Texas Democratic Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson Announces Retirement at the end of his mandate PLUS (D-Texas) has written to companies looking for such data.
She written to 10 companies, including ExxonMobil and Chevron, which operate in the Permian Basin production region of the southwestern United States, in what she described as an attempt to understand if their technology can significantly reduce emissions. .
The investigation also examines whether and how to strengthen the role of the federal government in monitoring methane leaks.
When burned, petroleum and especially natural gas emit fewer global warming emissions than coal, and industry has often touted them as cleaner alternative energy sources.
However, leaks of methane, which is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, can occur during the process of producing and transporting oil and gas. These leaks in turn increase how fuels contribute to global warming and undermine such claims by industry.
Johnson, in his letters, cited a study which found that about 60 percent more methane was leaked in 2015 than what was counted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The study attributed the underestimation to inventory methods that do not take into account “abnormal operating conditions”.
“The existence of these leaks, along with the lingering uncertainty about their size, duration and frequency, threatens America’s ability to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Johnson said in a statement. “I am concerned that the oil and gas industry’s Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programs are not designed and equipped to comprehensively monitor and detect methane leaks, especially intermittent ‘super emitting’ leaks that are responsible for a large part of the leaks in the sector. emissions.
In the letters, she specifically asked the companies if they had developed estimates of their emissions in the Permian Basin that differ from the EPA’s estimates.
She also asked them to provide information on how much methane they have leaked each year since 2016.
The letter comes as increased attention is being paid to methane’s contribution to climate change and its potency as a greenhouse gas. A United Nations Environment Program report released in May indicated that a 40 to 45 percent reduction in methane emissions could potentially prevent warming up to 0.3 degrees Celsius. About 90 percent of human methane emissions come from the fossil fuel, agriculture and waste industries.
The issue has also come under scrutiny by Congress, with varying degrees of industry support. Many major oil companies have supported steps taken by Congress to reinstate methane regulations that were rescinded under the Trump administration.
But they were less enthusiastic about a proposed methane royalty, which would charge drillers based on the amount of gas they release into the atmosphere.
The letter also comes as the oil majors come under scrutiny from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. This committee recently heard testimony from senior industry leaders and issued subpoenas for documents in an investigation into alleged disinformation about climate change.
La Colline did not receive an immediate response to a request for comment from any of the 10 recipients of the letters.