UT must help solve global warming, not make it worse

We must change our dirty energy habits to combat the threat of global warming and ultimately move to 100% clean energy. The UT community understands this principle and prides itself on leading the way towards the clean, sustainable energy future we need. 

But when it comes to controlling pollution that contributes to climate change from fracking operations on its own land, UT’s approach is stuck in the past. 

The Santa Rita Oil Rig located on the UT Austin main campus via Flickr 2.0

UT’s oil and gas operations release potent greenhouse gases

At the more than 9000 wells drilled on land owned by UT, methane comes to the surface with recovered oil and leaks into the atmosphere. Invisible and odorless, methane is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas — more than 80 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Scientists claim that 25% of the global warming we’re experiencing today is due to methane. 

Environment Texas analysis shows that the equivalent of 11.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide leaked from UT land over a six year period in the form of methane. That’s the same climate impact as about 2.5 million cars.

UT should be leader in sustainability

Simple and affordable modifications to oilfield operations can cut methane emissions dramatically. Other oil and gas states, like Colorado, California and Wyoming have started requiring companies to implement these strategies to reduce emissions, but companies that drill on UT land aren’t required to make them. 

According to ICF International “...industry could cut methane emissions by 40% below projected 2018 levels at an average annual cost of less than one cent on average per thousand cubic feet of produced natural gas by adopting available emissions-control technologies and operating practices.

Together, we can get UT to act

As the state’s flagship educational institution and a significant landholder, the University of Texas has a particular responsibility to protect the environment. Their own sustainability policy states “the Board of Regents of the University of Texas is committed to stewardship of the environment and promotion of the principles of energy efficiency and sustainability” and directs institutions to “pursue the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” UT officials have told the press “the University Lands Office takes very seriously its role in ensuring all drilling is performed in a safe and sustainable manner.” 

All we need is for UT to live up to its words and act to reduce this harmful pollution. So please join us.

The first step is an easy one: Add your name in support of UT cutting methane pollution

Global warming is a profound threat to virtually every aspect of nature and human civilization –disrupting the functioning of ecosystems, increasing the frequency and violence of extreme weather, and ultimately jeopardizing health, food production, and water resources for Americans and people across the planet.

As one of the biggest players in the oil industry in the country, UT has a platform by which they can drive powerful change in the industry. Not only will they clean up their act, they’ll create a powerful precedent which could reverberate throughout the industry. Plus it’ll help make UT a national leader in sustainability.

Learn more from our video on our Facebook page.

Fracking Updates

Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Chancellor McRaven responds on methane

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News Release | Environment Texas

Most Texas members of Congress fail to defend our environment and our families’ health

Members of the Lone Star State's congressional delegation voted to support environmental protections only 28% of the time on average, according to a new scorecard from Environment Texas. The scorecard evaluates the state's 2 U.S. senators and 36 U.S. representatives on 32 key environmental votes. While Senators John Conryn and Ted Cruz both scored 0%, Texas can be proud of 3 representatives who scored 100% — Joaquin Castro, Lloyd Doggett, and Beto O'Rourke.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Flooding recommendations on oil and gas

Dear Chair Craddick and Commissioners,

We write to you today to ask the Railroad Commission of Texas to adopt new safety standards to protect the public from the dangers of crude oil and produced water spills amid flooding events.

As you may know, the Railroad Commission of Texas received at least 20 reports of spilled oil, gas, and other fluids released due to Harvey-related flooding. The spills involved thousands of barrels of oil and produced water, including some which spilled in to the Colorado River.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

UT Faculty Urge University Lands to Reduce Methane Pollution

AUSTIN – Faculty of the University of Texas System released a letter today urging UT Chancellor McRaven to reduce the climate-damaging methane emissions occurring at oil and gas facilities on land managed by the UT System. The letter has more than 177 faculty signatures and ran as an ad in the Wednesday edition of UT Austin’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan. “UT wants us to be leaders for our students,” said David Matiella of UT San Antonio’s Department of Architecture. The professors who signed onto this letter want UT to step up and be a leader on managing our public lands.”

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