The Week Ahead: Senate Hearing on Fugitive Methane Emissions


The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing Nov. 5 on "Fugitive Methane Emissions From Oil and Gas Operations."

As covered in a May 3 Energy and Climate Report article, industry and 13 states urged the Environmental Protection Agency in a letter to forgo regulations on methane emissions from oil and gas facilities.

The letter claimed the EPA has historically issued standards under the Clean Air Act for only criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and lead. Setting a methane performance standard “would be a marked departure from EPA's historical practice and could therefore require significant additional resources to implement at a time when state resources are already strained and overburdened."

According to the EPA, methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year period. 

Listening Sessions on Carbon Standard Planned

The EPA will hold listening sessions on upcoming carbon dioxide emission limits for existing power plants Nov. 4 in Boston and Lenexa, Kan.; Nov. 5 in San Francisco; Nov. 7 in Dallas, Seattle and Washington; and Nov. 8 in Chicago and Philadelphia.

The agency plans to hold a total of 11 sessions. Sessions were held Oct. 23 in New York City and Atlanta and Oct. 30 in Denver. 

However, as detailed in an Oct. 30 article, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 12 state affiliates that heavily rely on coal asked the EPA to hold additional listening sessions, as have politicians.

Europe to Address Carbon Market

European Union nations are expected to decide Nov. 8 in Brussels whether to allow the start of talks on a draft carbon-market fix with the region's Parliament.

As covered in an Oct. 25 article, Lithuania, which holds the rotating presidency of the 28-nation bloc, said it plans to seek approval for a negotiating mandate at the meeting of ambassadors from member states.

EU carbon permits jumped as much as 8.6 percent in price on speculation that work will accelerate on the rescue plan, which aims to help emission allowance prices recover from record lows by temporarily curbing their supply at auctions.

Carbon Capture and Storage in International Spotlight

Energy ministers from 22 countries and the European Commission will meet in Washington Nov. 4-7 to forge an agreement on an updated strategy to support the commercialization of carbon capture and storage technology.

As detailed in a Oct. 25 article, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will host the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum's fifth ministerial meeting, which is expected to result in a communiqué expressing the ministers' commitment to further develop and deploy cost-effective carbon capture, transport and long-term storage technologies.

Other Climate, Energy Events

The EPA will hold a webinar Nov. 5 on "Integrating Energy and Climate Risk Management." The pharmaceutical company Allergan will discuss risks related to climate change and energy.

Also on Nov. 5, the Center for Strategic & International Studies will hold its "Global Security Forum 2013: New Energy, New Geopolitics?" in Washington.

The Embassy of Sweden will host a seminar Nov. 7 on "The New Energy Landscape." The seminar will focus on the scale of natural gas production in the U.S. and its effect on transatlantic manufacturing.