Sustainability Reads: January 11- January 17

The Alison Canyon natural gas leak in California continues to emit pollution equivalent to an estimated 4.5 million cars every day. Now that’s bad, and especially in a state that tends to be a leader in environmental action. This week there was quite a bit of other fossil fuel news in the U.S:

Report: Methane a rising risk for both oil & gas sector and investors
This new report by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) illustrates the lack of transparency about how much methane is leaked or vented from oil and gas facilities. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the lack of information, especially standardized data about emissions, limits progress to address climates change. It is also a risk to investors. Key findings:

  • Surveying the top 40 production and top 25 midstream oil and gas companies operating in the U.S., the authors found that zero companies disclose targets to reduce methane emissions.
  •  Less than a third of surveyed companies disclose information on methane emissions via accessible, investor-facing data sources, such as CDP questionnaires, or corporate sustainability/CSR reports or 10-K filings.
  • Where companies did report on their emissions, the information was generally low in quality and lacked rigorous and standardized metrics, making comparisons among operators difficult.

One Of The Largest Coal Companies In The United States Just Filed For Bankruptcy
Last Monday, Arch Coal, one of the United States’ largest coal companies, filed for bankruptcy in hopes of eliminating more than $4.5 billion in long-term debt. Arch’s mines represent 13 percent of America’s coal supply. Several of Arch’s competitors have also filed. Low natural gas prices and more environmental regulations made 2015 a tough year for the coal industry. In April, for the first time ever, natural gas surpassed coal as the primary source of electricity generation in the country. The reality that Arch Coal will not be able to pay its debts and provide returns to shareholders is a turning point in addressing climate change and a sign that U.S. coal will eventually be a thing of the past. By Natasha Geiling at Think Progress.

Fossil fuel leases should charge for climate change, says president
In President Obama’s last State of the Union speech on Tuesday, climate change was one of the issues explored. Specifically, President Obama said that prices charged for oil and coal should reflect the cost of the greenhouse gases from burning them. Although this was just words, it signals a change. The President also suggested that he wanted companies leasing oil and coal rights on federal land, which accounts for over 40% of coal production in the U.S., to pay more for the fuels’ contribution to climate change. This was not just words as on Friday the administration put a pause on the issuance of coal mining leases and elicited a review, the first in three decades. By Timothy Cama at The Hill.

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