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Luke Metzger,
Environment Texas

Climate Campaign Puts UT on Notice: Reduce Methane Emissions at Your West Texas Oil Fields

Infrared Video Shows Invisible Methane Billowing from Oil and Gas Facilities on UT Land
For Immediate Release:

AUSTIN - At various UT System campuses today, Environment Texas called on University of Texas administrators to reduce the climate-damaging methane emissions occurring at oil and gas facilities on land managed by the UT System. 

“Pollution from oil drilling on UT land is damaging our climate, putting Texas and future generations at risk,” said Lena Wright, Campaign Organizer with Environment Texas. “Affordable technology and industry best practices could cut this pollution in half and UT needs to insist that the companies who make money off our lands start using it. This methane pollution is UT’s dirty little secret.”

Invisible and odorless, methane is a potent greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and is responsible for 25% of current global warming. Using EPA data, Environment Texas estimates that over the past few years, methane emissions on UT lands have nearly doubled. From 2009 to 2014, oil and gas produced the equivalent of 11.7 million tons of climate pollution. In one year, this pollution carries the same short term climate impact as 2.5 million cars or 3.4 coal-fired power plants.

Special infrared video (available online at http://environmenttexas.org/utdirtysecret) displays invisible methane as black smoke coming from oil and gas operations on UT Lands. The video confirms that drilling activity on UT lands is resulting in methane escaping into the air and worsening global warming. Shot in West Texas this past summer, the video shows methane being released from drilling wells, storage tanks and flares on UT lands.

 “UT demands the best from the professors and students who fill its lecture halls,” Said Matthew Chovanec, President of Fossil Free Texas, a student group, “It’s time UT demand the same commitment to best practices from the oil companies that drill on its land.”

Simple and affordable modifications to oilfield operations can cut methane emissions dramatically and oil and gas producing states, like Colorado, California and Wyoming have started requiring companies to implement these cost effective strategies. The group also announced plans to collect thousands of petition signatures from students and dozens of endorsements from faculty and staff from across the UT System, including at UT Austin campus. Environment Texas will also promote the infrared video through a paid advertising campaign on social media.