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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Squeezing the Shale

AUSTIN — Hydraulic fracturing of natural gas and oil wells — better known as fracking — seems to have received more attention than usual in Austin last year.

And though, as expected, the Texas Railroad Commission was quite involved in the issue, it was what the Texas Legislature did while in session that got most of the attention.

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Drilling Industry's Recycling Efforts a Focus in Hearing

Representatives of the natural gas drilling industry said at a joint state House committee hearing Wednesday that they were working to reduce their water consumption, mainly through recycling water.

Water shortages and safety in regard to hydraulic fracturing were the big topics of the day at the hearing of the House Energy and the Natural Resources committees. 

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Natural Gas Conservation in Texas

As we established in previous posts, electricity conservation is crucial in Texas summers to reduce strain on the power grid and avoid rolling blackouts across the state. Of course, saving energy is important year round.  One area where Texas can make great strides in energy conservation is natural gas.

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News Release | Environment Texas Research & Policy Center

Obama Administration Takes Needed First Step to Protect Our Health and Environment from Fracking Air Pollution

AUSTIN-Today the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new national standards to curb dangerous air pollution from gas drilling operations. Environment Texas praised the measure as an important first step in addressing the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. “For communities living in the face of fracking, these new standards are a breath of fresh air,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “These standards are a needed first step to protect Texans’ health and environment from the dangers of fracking.”

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Earthquake Dilemma

The oil and gas industry process of fracking is not new. But environmentalists claim it pollutes the air and water and some believe it causes earthquakes.
U.S. government scientists have released a report that claims earthquakes in the Midwest are because of fracking. "Well that's what scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have told us. They've reviewed the evidence and found that there is a strong connection." And Environment Texas' Luke Metzger says he wouldn't be surprised if the recent big quakes in Mexico are due to fracking.

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