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

Headline

Oil and gas industry getting pressure to make fracking greener

Environmentalists and even energy executives acknowledge the fact that consuming massive amounts of water in a drought is costly and hurts public perception. Meanwhile, seismologists say evidence continues to mount that there's a strong link between injection wells and earthquakes.

The technology exists to recycle it, but it's not practical for all companies and all situations. Factors such as water quality, geology and economics all play a role in making recycling feasible, Allen says. In most cases, that water is injected into disposal wells thousands of feet below ground.

When that happens, the water can't be recovered and is "permanently consumed," says Luke Metzger, the director of Environment Texas.

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Blog Post

Rainforest Village Battles Big Oil | Luke Metzger

The world is watching Ecuador. Oil giant PetroAmazonas has plans to drill in the Amazon rainforest. Many rainforest residents are no doubt fearing a repeat of what happened nearly fifty years ago, when Texaco blasted through the Amazon rainforest, clearing acres of pristine forest land and began drilling for oil. The result was the most massive destruction and contamination of rainforest lands in history along with unprecedented human rights violations. It was the early sixties; and although world-wide activism was at its peak, there were no global public awareness campaigns or social media platforms to halt the determination of such a big oil company. Today, the world is different--environmentally aware and globally connected. There are multi-national commissions and environmental standards in place; yet, deliberate deforestation is still the top threat to the world’s tropical forests. And proposed drilling is a huge threat right now.

> Keep Reading
Headline

As Fracking Increases, So Do Fears About Water Supply

CARRIZO SPRINGS, Tex. — In this South Texas stretch of mesquite trees and cactus, where the land is sometimes too dry to grow crops, the local aquifer is being strained in the search for oil. The reason is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling process that requires massive amounts of water.

> Keep Reading
Headline

It's time to consider long-term costs of fracking

All the hype by the fossil fuel industry about energy independence from fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in tight gas reservoirs like the Barnett Shale has left out the costs in energy, water and other essential natural resources.

Is this expensive, water consuming high-tech, low-energy-return extraction of fossil fuel from shale worth the loss of farm land, forests and wildlife habitat? "Fracking converts rural and natural areas into industrial zones, replacing forests and farm land with well pads, roads, pipelines and other infrastructure, and damaging precious natural resources," according to a 2012 report by Environment Texas titled "The Cost of Fracking: The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling's Environmental Damage." Do we want to pay for the infrastructure damage that the building of these wells will cause? According to the Environment Texas report, "the truck traffic needed to deliver water to a single fracking well causes as much damage to local roads as nearly 3.5 million car trips. The state of Texas has approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the Barnett Shale region."

> Keep Reading
Headline

Skepticism, please, on 'trade secrets'

And, as Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, suggests, the state needs more definition for what constitutes such a secret.

> Keep Reading

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