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

Fracking by the Numbers

Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies—hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—in a highly polluting effort to unlock oil and gas in underground rock formations across the United States. As fracking expands rapidly across the country, there are a growing number of documented cases of drinking water contamination and illness among nearby residents.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Don't let Big Oil Take Our Boots | Luke Metzger

Last month, something remarkable happened here in Texas. The city council of Dallas, home to Halliburton and J.R. Ewing and a world icon of oil and gas drilling, voted to reject a proposal by a natural gas company to drill and “frack” on city-owned land. Faced with enormous community opposition to drilling over fears of water contamination, air pollution and misuse of public park land, the council voted not to gamble with public health.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told the city council, "To paraphrase Ecclesiastes: There is a place for everything under Heaven, and I don’t think the place for drilling is in Dallas." The city is now poised to adopt a tough new ordinance which will effectively ban drilling within city limits.

> Keep Reading
Headline

Water Crisis

A 21st-century Texas variation of the old saw "whiskey's for drinkin', water's for fightin' about" might go something like this: "Gas is for gettin' rich, water's for fightin' about."

With hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, igniting a natural gas boom in Texas and elsewhere, we're only now paying sufficient attention to the massive amounts of water the drilling process requires. With some 30 Texas communities in danger of going dry before the end of the year, it's becoming more difficult to ignore the fact that the fracking boom, however welcome, comes at a high cost. It is a powerful drain on local water supplies.

Texas shale producers used about 25 billion gallons of water last year, and with more and more drilling in the Eagle Ford Formation, that figure will continue to grow. In some West Texas and South Texas counties - almost invariably drought-stricken counties - fracking accounts for 10 to 25 percent of water use and is projected to pass 50 percent in the future. Every month, oil and gas companies dispose of 290 million barrels of wastewater from fracking. That's the equivalent of 18,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools, Luke Metzger of Environment Texas points out. That's water that can never be used again - in a drought-debilitated state, no less.

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

Who pays the costs of fracking?

AUSTIN - Raising new concerns on a little-examined dimension of the fracking debate, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center today released a report analyzing Texas’s financial assurance requirements for oil and gas drilling operations.  Who Pays the Costs of Fracking? shows how Texas’s bonding requirements are completely inadequate to cover the cost and range of damage from dirty drilling.   

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Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Who Pays the Costs of Fracking?

Fracking” operations pose a staggering array of threats to our environment and health – contaminating drinking water, harming the health
of nearby residents, marring forests and landscapes, and contributing to global warming. Many of these damages from drilling have significant “dollars and cents” costs.

> Keep Reading

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