Articles Posted in Climate Change

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A great article appears in the March Section Report of the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law section report, by Jacqueline Weaver, Professor Emeritus, University of Houston Law Center: “The Railroad Commission’s New Duties to Keep Texans Warm: Winter Storm Uri Forces Change.” Here are some excerpts:

The throughput of dry gas production from Permian Basin processing plants dropped 85% from early February to February 18, [2021] and two-thirds of the gas processing plants in the Permian Basin had outages. The natural gas industry blamed electricity suppliers for cutting off power to them when they most needed it; power generators blamed the gas industry for failing to supply gas to them. Many natural gas providers had not filed a short form with ERCOT, the grid operator for most of Texas, that would have exempted them from electric outages during emergencies. The Railroad commission seemed unaware of this form and exemption process. Clearly, the natural gas and electricity sectors needed to communicate and coordinate more closely. In the ERCOT system, natural gas provides about half of all electricity generation.

According to an FERC-NERC Staff Report on Storm Uri:

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We’ve seen much posturing and finger-pointing from politicians on who is to blame for power failures during Winter Storm Uri last February. UT’s Austin Energy Institute has issued a report: The timeline and Events of the February 2021 Texas Electric Grid Blackouts, laying out the facts on what happened. The POWER Committee of the Austin Energy Institute, chaired by Dr. Carey King, issued this report. Dr. King does research related to how energy systems interact within the economy and environment, and how policy and social systems can made decisions and trade-offs among competing factors. The report clarifies how much the reduction in natural gas supply contributed to the disaster.

Summary from the report:

Factors contributing to the electricity blackouts of February 15-18, 2021, include the following: Continue reading →

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Excellent article in the Texas Tribune about the failure of the Texas Legislature and regulators to require natural gas companies to winterize in the wake of February’s winter storm blackout. The Public Utility Commission did finally act to require utilities to use “best efforts” to winterize their plants, but the Railroad Commission has so far done nothing to force gas infrastructure companies to winterize.

A joint report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that “87 percent of unplanned generation outages due to fuel issues were related to natural gas, predominantly related to production and processing issues, while 13 percent involved issues with other fuels such as coal or fuel oil.”

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In all the recent debate about developing alternatives to carbon fuels and China’s continued dependence on coal, it is remarkable to see how far China is ahead of the rest of the world in developing solar power for electric generation. (click on image to enlarge)

solar-power-by-country

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Here’s another flow diagram, from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, showing sources and uses of energy in the US, sent to me by a client. Note how much of our energy comes from fossil fuels – natural gas, coal and petroleum. We are addicted to hydrocarbons, and will be for some time. Recent changes in weather patterns reflect what is becoming more obvious – increased CO2 in the atmosphere is warming our planet. But how are we going to stop driving our cars, running our air conditioners, powering our computers? The problem with fossil fuels is that they are too efficient a source of energy. (click to enlarge)

US-Energy-Consumption

And here’s a diagram given me by my niece, who is studying biology. I can’t tell you anything about it except that it reflects the inner workings of a human cell.  Things have certainly changed since I studied biology. Note the reference to “Energy” on the right side of the diagram, coming from glucose – sugar.

Cell

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I ran across this website from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, an interactive map that allows one to view different perspectives about global warming across the country. Fascinating to play with. Remarkably, for instance, a large majority of the population in the Rio Grande Valley and far West Texas believe that global warming is happening and a majority there believe it is caused mostly by human activities. Likewise in most of New Mexico and Arizona.  While much of the country’s opinions about global warming does appear to be split along ideological and urban/rural lines, that is not necessarily the case. The data, from 2016, shows that 53% of the country believes that global warming is caused mostly by human activities. 58% of the population is “worried about global warming.” 82% of those polled support funding research into renewable energy sources, and 75% think CO2 should be regulated as a pollutant.

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