“As the world’s oil and gas giants face increasing pressure to reduce their fossil fuel emissions, small, privately held drilling companies are becoming the country’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, often by buying up the industry’s high-polluting assets.
According to a startling new analysis of the latest emissions data disclosed to the Environmental Protection Agency, five of the industry’s top ten emitters of methane, a particularly potent planet-warming gas, are little-known oil and gas producers, some backed by obscure investment firms, whose environmental footprints are wildly large relative to their production.
In some cases, the companies are buying up high-polluting assets directly from the largest oil and gas corporations, like ConocoPhillips and BP; in other cases, private equity firms acquire risky oil and gas properties, develop them, and sell them quickly for maximum profits.
The largest emitter, Hilcorp Energy, reported almost 50 percent more methane emissions from its operations than the nation’s largest fossil fuel producer, Exxon Mobil, despite pumping far less oil and gas. Four other relatively unknown companies — Terra Energy Partners, Flywheel Energy, Blackbeard Operating and Scout Energy — each reported emitting more of the gas than many industry heavyweights. . . .”
David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Thank you Hiroko Tabuchi for this excellent reporting, and for disturbing my morning. This scandal calls for stiffer laws, regulations and penalities, and a warp speed movement by the government to seal all these leaks, and then go after the parties responsible for them for reimbursement, fines, and probably, prison terms. The treats of climate change are existential, and we have to get serious about it. One new law that might make sense, would be to forbid the selling of any oil or gas assets until all of its current leaks are fixed and fully sealed, which would prevent the larger companies from just off loading their dirty sites.
The fines and penalties should be so severe, that these oil and gas opportunists should be hopping to clean up their messes before the government does.