The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) would make significant strides in limiting and cutting methane pollution. Methane has proven to be a significant part of the climate problem; the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP) notes that over a 20-year period, methane is 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide.  Studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) further show that the rate of methane emissions is only worsening, with 2020 recording the largest annual increase since 1983.  By implementing a Methane Emissions Reduction Program, the IRA takes a significant step towards reducing methane-related warming.  This program implements a carrot-and-stick regulatory regime, whereby the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rewards methane reduction efforts with financial assistance, and penalizes excess methane waste with a set fee.

Continue Reading Methane Emissions Reduction Program: The Next Step in the United States’ Efforts to Tackle a Potent Greenhouse Gas

Late on July 27, Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): a reconciliation package that implements prescription drug pricing reform, invests in Affordable Care Act health care subsidies, imposes a corporate minimum tax and improves tax enforcement, and—most relevant for this post—provides $369 billion to support energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Continue Reading Overview of the Inflation Reduction Act

On March 28, 2014, the White House released its “Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.”  The plan summarizes the Administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions from several sources.  The strategy includes proposing new standards, new rules, new voluntary strategies and programs and new regulations.   The plan outlines measures to reduce emissions and to improve measurement of sources and emissions.

According to the plan, Methane has a global warming potential more than 20 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, per metric ton.  On that basis, methane makes up almost 9% of all the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of human activity in the United States.  Although in the United States methane emissions have decreased by 11%, they are projected to increase from the current carbon dioxide equivalent of 560 million tons in 2012 to over 620 million tons in 2030 absent additional action to reduce emissions.  The main sources of human-related methane emissions are agriculture with 36%, natural gas systems with 23%, landfills with 18%, coal mining with 10%, petroleum systems with 6%, and wastewater treatment with 2%.

Reducing Emissions:

The plan anticipates a number of initial information gathering activities this spring and summer with the results being published in the fall.  Any final rulemakings would be completed by the end of 2016.

Continue Reading White House Releases Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

On March 28, His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco bestowed innovation awards for excellence in the field of environmental technology to three emerging technology companies — Mango Materials, Frigesco, and One Earth Designs — out of a field of 22 companies from 11 countries that participated in the annual three-day CleanEquity

The European Commission is expected to adopt a communication and recommendation on the exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbons (especially shale gas).  The draft communication and recommendation, which are still subject to change, are being discussed among the cabinets of the 28 Commissioners of the European Commission as part of the 2030 climate change package, which the Commission intends to present on January 22, 2014.

The draft communication and recommendation are likely to be seen as a political compromise within the Commission and among Member States.  The two documents also allow the Commission to provide non-binding rules on the exploration and exploitation of shale gas in Europe for the next 18 months, a transitional period during which a new European Parliament must be elected and a new Commission must enter into office.  In effect, the draft communication and recommendation leave it to the next Commission to decide whether to propose binding legislation if the recommendation is not sufficiently effective.
Continue Reading The Upcoming European Commission’s Recommendation on Shale Gas: A Transitional Political Compromise?

California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources just issued final interim regulations (effective January 1, 2014) to implement California’s new fracking statute (SB 4), with permanent rules to follow by January 2015.  For an overview of the fracking statute, see our September E-Alert.

The Division’s interim regulations are supported by a narrative description that provides the Division’s view of fracking, including the differences between hydraulic fracking, acid fracking and acid matrix stimulation, a brief summary of pre SB 4 requirements and summarizes the SB 4 interim operator requirements.  The interim regulations distinguish well stimulation (which is subject to the regulations) from mere underground injection.  These regulations overlay an existing regulatory framework in California on oil and gas wells that is not specific to fracking and which contains requirements not included in the interim regulations.
Continue Reading California Issues New Interim Fracking Regulations