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

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Mysterious Tar Balls Wash Up on Texas Coast, Threatening Wildlife | Luke Metzger

Five different species of sea turtles that nest at Padre Island are now being threatened by offshore oil drilling. Over the past couple of months, mysterious tar balls have been washing up along the Texas coast. These accumulations of crude oil range from only a couple of inches to nearly two feet long, and stretch along thousands of yards of the Texas coastline. The tar is detrimental to the viability of the turtle’s eggs, and even a small amount could prove fatal to the baby turtles within. Padre Island is a very ecologically sensitive area, as it is the only place in Texas where all five species of turtles found in the Gulf of Mexico nest. These tar balls are threatening enough, but what’s truly unsettling is that we have no idea where they’re coming from.

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News Release | Environment Texas

24 legislators earn 100%, 2 earn 0% on Environment Texas scorecard

AUSTIN –Twenty four legislators earned 100% ratings and two earned scores of 0% this past legislative session, according to Environment Texas’ 2015 Legislative Scorecard.

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Sine Die | Luke Metzger

Yesterday, on the last day of session (known as "Sine Die"), the 84th Legislature gavelled to a close. Congressman Joaquin Castro called it "perhaps the worst legislative session in Texas history" and the Texas League of Conservation Voters called it a "disaster for the environment, public health, and local control." It's true, it was a pretty rough session for the environment. The Legislature ended the rights of cities to ban or even regulate fracking unless it's deemed "commercially reasonable" (yeah, nobody really knows what that means). They also made it harder for cities to sue big polluters who break the law and harder for citizens to challenge companies seeking permits to pollute near their communities. A rebate program to help Texans buy electric cars was allowed to expire.

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Abbott signs bill to halt fracking bans

Gov. Greg Abbott, proclaiming the need to protect private property rights, signed a measure into law Monday that cements a win for the oil and gas industry against communities that want to ban practices including fracking.

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Texas governor signs law banning local fracking restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill to block local ordinances against hydraulic fracturing. The new law comes in response to a resolution banning fracking in the Texas town of Denton, which voters passed last November. The law “preempts regulation of oil and gas activity at the city level and resides that duty with the state,” according to Abbott’s office, and it “ensures that any local regulation of surface activity is commercially reasonable and does not effectively prohibit an oil and gas operation.”

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