Self-regulating emissions in CO; Trump rallies petro-workers in PA

Trump speaks on wind power, Wheeler and DOE’s ‘big project’
Kelsey Brugger, E&E News, August 14, 2019

Speaking to energy workers at Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, Trump said that “the hearts of our workers, the American spirit is soaring — higher, stronger, freer and greater than ever before.”

He further declared that the Obama administration “tried to shut down Pennsylvania coal and Pennsylvania fracking,” adding that the United States is the No. 1 producer of energy “by far” — a status that has been the case since the Obama era. As he has in the past, he attacked the Paris climate accord, criticized “windmills” and expressed sadness for dead birds — a day after his administration weakened protections for threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Trump added after the event that Energy Secretary Rick Perry — who was in attendance — would be announcing the “big project” next week but did not provide details.

Our Take: Big project? But no details? The true hidden gem in this article is unearthed at the end: ‘Guith [acting director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute] said there’s already a clear distinction between Trump and the pool of Democratic challengers. “When a ban on fracking is becoming commonplace — that doesn’t play very well in this part of the economy,” he said.’ Here’s looking at you 2020. Marginalizing communities and stripping away their economic drivers does not bode well.

 

Longmont company patents tool to help oil and gas companies self-regulate emissions
John Spina, Longmont Times-Call, August 7, 2019

When combustors at oil and gas production facilities are working correctly, they use extreme heat to separate the fuels from volatile organic compounds and other pollutants, resulting in water and carbon dioxide being the only emissions.

When there isn’t a sufficient amount of oxygen in the mix, the decreased level of heat causes incomplete combustion, which leads to the emission of carbon monoxide and acetaldehyde, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer listed as a Group 1 human carcinogen.

Recognizing the problem, the design team at Mountain Secure Systems, a Longmont based electronics manufacturer, spent the past three years developing a system that can predict when incomplete combustion is about to occur and alert site operators so the problem can be fixed before it becomes an environmental hazard or the smoke is noticed by a regulator, resulting in a $15,000 a day fine from the Environmental Protection Agency.

On Monday, Mountain Secure Systems obtained a patent for its autonomous system, known as a Smoking Combustor Advance Notification System, or SCANS, allowing it to bring it to market.

Our Take: ‘“Today’s oil and natural gas industry is a technology industry, with several innovations driving emission reductions and improved efficiencies,” he said. “Our businesses are part of the environmental solution, but a stable regulatory environment is critical for innovation as investment craves certainty.”’ Steps toward environmental solutions? Check. Stable (self-) regulatory environment? Check. Certainty in investments? Check. Good on you, Mountain Secure Systems! Let’s hear it for more market-based solutions to reducing emissions.

 

Ethanol Hits Five-Year Low as Stocks Rise
Kirk Maltais, The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019

Futures prices for the corn-based fuel are trading at five-year lows after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exempted many small refineries from blending gasoline and diesel with ethanol. The Energy Information Administration forecast Wednesday that ethanol stockpiles are at 23.9 million barrels, up 4% from the same time last year and 17% since 2016.

Less demand for ethanol in domestic fuel comes as ethanol and corn producers are also facing lower demand from customers in China and other countries as trade tensions rise.

China will need 15 million metric tons of ethanol annually by 2020 to meet planned regulations for 10% of gasoline used there to come from the biofuel, according to IHS Markit. China only has enough production capacity to meet a fraction of that demand, IHS said.

U.S. producers were expected to fill this demand, but as U.S. and Chinese officials spar over trade terms, other ethanol-producing nations including Brazil appear to be more likely beneficiaries of China’s need, IHS said. The same dynamic has boosted Brazil’s soybean exports to China over the past year as U.S. exports of that crop to China have plunged.