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Why This Matters: Methane leaks are dangerous — they have led to reports of tap water catching fire, toxic groundwater, and fatal explosions, all of which have been motivators for the federal government to track and seal these wells. This methane then escapes into the atmosphere, where it absorbs heat and accelerates rising temperatures. Oil and gas companies remain unaccountable, leaving it up to either local governments or residents to find a solution. And EPA has rolled back its rules on methane releases, and some states, as a part of their COVID-19 relief efforts, offered waivers to oil and gas companies allowing them to delay safety checks on abandoned wells.
“If carbon dioxide is a bullet, methane is a bomb.” Despite making up a smaller percentage of overall gas emissions than carbon dioxide, the same amount of methane traps more heat in our atmosphere than its counterpart. The EPA believes that the amount of environmental damage caused by leaking methane may be larger than previously thought due to incomplete data. Recent studies have shown that the fossil fuel industry is responsible for much of the methane leaking into the atmosphere.
In his CNN town hall, Joe Biden fought back against claims by President Trump that Biden, if elected, would ban all hydraulic fracturing. The Democratic candidate’s position on fracking has softened since the primaries, on Thursday going so far as to say that fracking “has to continue” as a “transition” away from fossil fuels. However, some climate experts believe that the US must move faster if it hopes to avoid a major climate crisis in the near future.
Wind power has overtaken coal as a proportion of Texas’s power for the first time and promises to continue growing. In 2020, wind power made up almost a quarter of Texas’s total power, compared to just 18% from coal.
Why This Matters: Texas is the nation’s largest producer of both wind energy and fossil fuel energy.
The sale of oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was supposed to bring in upwards of $1 billion, but in the end, the first of the auctions mandated by Congress at the urging of President Trump brought in only $14M.
Why This Matters: Banks won’t underwrite Arctic drilling, so it is unclear those ANWR leases will be drilled ever.
When 2020 began, even with oil prices relatively strong, many industry analysts were predicting it was the beginning of the end for oil and gas. And then the pandemic hit and the Saudis and Russians decided to take advantage of the downturn. With supplies still high and demand declining, the industry may never be the same again.
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