The oil and gas industry has taken it upon itself to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane emissions, for example, have fallen as oil and gas production has risen in the U.S, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API). Plus, carbon emissions in the U.S. are down to near 20-year lows, partly the result of the growing use of cleaner-burning natural gas.
Here are a few statistics shared by API in its Climate Change and Energy report:
- Citing a study by T2 Associates, API said the oil and gas industry has invested nearly $90 billion in emissions-reducing technologies since 2000;
- The oil and gas industry has invested nearly $15 billion in technologies such as wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal and landfill digester gas since 2000; and
- Nearly $25 billion has gone toward developing substitute and less carbon intensive fuels such as LNG while also lowering fugitive gas emissions.
“It is clear that climate change is a serious problem that requires research for solutions and effective policies that allow us to meet our energy needs while protecting the environment: that's why oil and gas companies are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” API said.
The effort comes as the Obama administration pushes to further lower emissions, including by rolling out new methane gas emissions regulations. The rules are part of an effort— President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan—to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025.
But a new president is set to take office soon.
President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Reuters reported that the pick “fits with [Trump’s] promise to cut back the EPA and free up drilling and coal mining, and signals the likely rollback of much of President Obama’s environmental agenda.”
The news agency reported that Pruitt has filed several lawsuits in opposition to regulations that attempt to lower smog and curb toxic emissions from power plants, and he is among those leading efforts to toss out the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
“Pruitt has also said he is skeptical of climate change. In an opinion piece in an Oklahoma newspaper in 2016, he wrote that he believes the debate over global warming is "far from settled" and that scientists continue to disagree on the issue,” the Reuters report said. However, “an overwhelming majority of scientists around the world say manmade emissions are warming the planet.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether the industry continues to made strides in reducing emissions if the incoming administration eases regulations. Hopefully, the industry continues on its path and step up efforts to lower emissions by using technology and improved techniques, while still meeting the energy needs of Americans and working to add more renewables to the energy supply mix.
Velda Addison can be reached at email@example.com.
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