New Analysis Finds $93 Million in Natural Gas Waste and Pollution in Ohio
Waste underscores importance of federal safeguards that protect communities and increase climate security.
(Columbus, Ohio) A new Synapse Energy Economics analysis commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund and Taxpayers for Common Sense finds oil and gas companies across Ohio wasted $93 million worth of gas in 2019. That’s enough lost gas to meet the annual needs of the entire cities of Columbus and Cincinnati.
This waste occurs when gas is either leaked, vented or flared from oil and gas infrastructure, and the analysis comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas facilities nationwide later this year.
“Methane leaks in Ohio not only harm our climate but also waste resources and revenue,” said John Rutecki, EDF Regulatory and Legislative Manger, Appalachia. “Reducing this waste is a critical opportunity for Ohio and commonsense regulation to cut methane waste and pollution will create jobs and increase revenue for important state priorities, while strengthening our energy security.”
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe and is often accompanied by other local air pollutants. Because methane is the main component of natural gas, it also represents a waste of an energy resource.
According to the analysis, the 31 billion cubic feet of oil and gas methane wasted from Ohio’s 44,300 active wells translated into nearly $1.4 million in lost tax and royalty revenue to the state of Ohio in 2019 alone. That’s lost funding that would otherwise support priorities that are critical for the protection of health, safety and the environment.
"Frittering away billions of dollars in natural gas isn't just environmentally irresponsible — it's fiscally reckless. In Ohio and nationwide, we're squandering not only an essential energy resource but also potential tax and royalty revenues. As budgets tighten and energy security remains crucial, it's high time we update our policies to halt this waste and harness the full potential of our natural resources," said Autumn Hanna, Vice President at Taxpayers for Common Sense.
This analysis also highlights that almost all the waste in the state — over 99% — is due to leaking. This underscores the need for strong methane rules that include regular inspections at all oil and gas well sites regardless of production and installing zero-emission equipment.
Reducing methane waste and pollution also creates jobs in the fast-growing methane mitigation industry. The sector already has roughly a dozen companies across Ohio, including seven company headquarters, six manufacturing facilities and five service firm locations to help operators address emissions. The methane mitigation industry provides family-sustaining jobs that typically pay 10% more than the federal average and can’t be offshored. Over 75% of methane mitigation companies say they would create more jobs with strengthened methane emission standards in place.
“By failing to capture wasted natural gas, Ohio is losing out on energy capacity to heat our homes in winter and reap the benefits of additional tax revenue to the state,” said Sarah Spence, Executive Director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum. “This missed opportunity costs us jobs in the methane mitigation industry and state funding for critical programs. Federal rules that would reduce methane leaks from oil and natural gas extraction would plug that gap and promote economic growth in Ohio.”
Later this fall, the EPA will finalize rules to cut methane waste and pollution. These policies have the potential to deliver critical emission reductions at well sites across Ohio. The proposed rule includes common sense policies like inspections at all well sites and phasing out pollution from new and existing pneumatic controllers, the industry’s second leading source of methane emissions.
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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund
Taxpayers for Common Sense is a nonpartisan budget watchdog and an independent voice for the American taxpayer since 1995. Our mission is to fight for a federal government that operates within its means and works for people, not just special interests. We focus our efforts on eliminating wasteful and harmful programs and policies, weapons systems that do not work, and the perverse incentives that increase taxpayer risks and liabilities.
Ohio Conservative Energy Forum is a movement of conservatives who recognize clean energy as a solution to sustaining energy dominance, keeping our economy booming and providing power to build and sustain the American way of life.