LTE: Methane Has More Than 80 Times the Warming Power of Carbon Dioxide

Re: February 5, 2023 article, “How can we best measure Methane?”

Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide for twenty years after its release. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the EPA is preparing to charge a fee, the first ever to reduce global warming, on the amount of methane released.  How to measure the amount is a major dilemma.

Oil and gas companies have equipment to measure methane but they are not deploying them fully. Currently, they can pollute our environment without any consequences. They even burn excess hydrocarbons or use “flaring” which is allowed only for safety.  This practice is widely prevalent in the Permian Basin which TCEQ could stop by enforcement of the current permitting rules.

If these companies don’t want to pay fees, they could follow the permitting rules and seal methane leaks and start a transition plan to clean energy methods to become a part of the solution to stabilize our climate.

Kalpana Sutaria

Project Manager, City of Austin and Member, Citizens Climate Lobby Austin Chapter

Submitted to the Austin American Statesman and to the Times-Picayune in Louisiana

February 2023

Opinion: Texas leaders determined to stop progress on measures to reduce air pollution

Re: January 13 2023, Texas Tribune article, “EPA Moves away from Permian Basin air pollution crackdown”.

Texas leaders are determined to stop progress on measures to reduce air pollution by oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin no matter what it does to Texans’ health. Oil and gas companies have wielded their power for many years and continue to do that. the Biden administration is trying to lower oil prices after oil shortages around the world after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Oil companies have pressurized Texas leaders enough for the EPA to back down from air pollution crackdown.

We need policies that can reduce our dependence on oil and gas and encourage clean energy research and development. Ask your members of Congress to enact laws to transition away from pollution causing energy sources to clean energy that would lower ozone levels and improve air quality. I suffer from pollution regularly.

We want leaders who would work for their constituents’ health and well- being.

Kalpana Sutaria

Project Manager, City of Austin and Member, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Austin Chapter

Submitted to the Austin American-Statesman

January 2023

A national climate plan needs a Texas component

With spring’s emergence, memories of winter’s Polar Vortex begin to recede and lose their sting. Unfortunately, we know that these weather disasters will continue to occur with increased frequency and magnitude due to climate change. Texas needs a plan to address climate change and we have one — the Texas Climate Plan.

About two years ago, I decided to use my office to examine what Texans could do to impact climate change — it turns out, we can do a whole lot. Texas is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country and a major emitter of methane. Carbon dioxide and methane are the primary greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. If Texas were a country, we would rank 7th in the world for our carbon dioxide emissions. Major sources of these greenhouse gases are the vehicles we drive, and the oil and gas industry.

After examining the data, we concluded that any national plan to combat climate change must have a substantial Texas component. I collaborated with several House Democrats to develop the Texas Climate Plan as a roadmap to reduce emissions.

The plan consists of four parts, beginning with: “Texas Jobs for a Changing Economy.” The clean energy economy is here, and we have a huge opportunity to benefit from this growth sector.

Since 2017, clean energy added jobs two times faster than national employment and 60% faster than fossil fuels in Texas. Our state is already a leader in electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturing with Tesla, Peterbilt Motors Co., Navistar, Toshiba Heavy Industries, Ayro, Volcon and Hyliion all located here. Major auto companies continue to announce an end to manufacturing gas-powered cars as they transition to electric vehicles. Clean energy job growth in Texas already outpaces fossil fuels, and provides higher paying wages – about 25% more than the median wage statewide. The “future” economy is already here and ripe for prosperity.

Part two of the plan is “Preserving Texas Resources and Industry Accountability.” Texas possesses a wealth of natural resources that have served as a source of economic strength for our state, but these resources must be preserved through responsible stewardship. For example, much of the methane that comes from the oil and gas industry comes from wasteful, routine venting and flaring of natural gas. In 2018 alone, Permian Basin oil and gas producers flared off enough to meet the entire state’s residential demand. Even the UT System can minimize venting and flaring on university lands to reduce the ecological footprint of oil production on public lands and maximize profits by directing this wasted gas to the market instead.

Part three of the plan provides for “Transparency to Empower Texans.” Our staff worked countless hours to unearth the data needed to build the Texas Climate Plan. Details on Texas’ environmental status should be readily available. Texans need transparent information to effectively engage policymakers and provide public oversight.

Part four of the plan, “Resiliency in a Changing Climate,” comes full circle to address the nightmarish “Texas Power Fail” in February. This man-made catastrophe could have been averted had we prepared for the effects of climate change. An estimated 200 Texans lost their lives during the Polar Vortex and damages are estimated at $195 billion — the costliest disaster in Texas history. To save lives and livelihoods, we must prepare for and prevent future extreme climate-related disasters.

As a Texan, I am proud of our energy dominance and the prosperity it has generated for our state. At the same time, we must recognize the negative byproducts of a fossil fuel economy. Texas will continue to be a leader in energy if we take advantage of new technologies that will power our homes and our economy without devastating our environment. We must confront a warming planet so Texans can continue to thrive. Texans are innately suited for this challenge because Texans do not fear the future. We lead it.

State Representative Gina Hinojosa

Austin American-Statesman

April 8, 2021