Another Day, Another Misleading Study from Earthworks

August 20, 2021

The following can be attributed to Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association.

Earthworks recently published a “study” about flaring which included a recommendation to “stop permitting new oil and gas facilities.” Period. Ending oil and natural gas development, entirely, is this organization’s aim and this misleading study is the latest in its “slinging spaghetti at the wall” strategy to accomplish this end, despite the devastating consequences this would have for American families, our economy and the world.

The authors of the study ignore the facts and distort the data to conform to their relentless false narrative. This naked pursuit to end oil and gas development – with research that is unencumbered by the truth – is why any study from this organization lacks credibility. The fact is oil and natural gas industry innovation and investment are protecting and improving the environment every day. Flaring and methane emissions specifically have plummeted. Earthworks, once again, goes to great lengths to avoid the facts in all of its “research.”

The percentage of natural gas flared out of all the natural gas produced in Texas decreased 72% between June 2019 and May 2021, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas. During the same period, the volume of gas flared decreased by approximately 73%. In Texas, natural gas that is flared represents less than 1% of all natural gas produced, and innovation and new technologies continue to drive this number down. While the economic slowdown attributed to part of the reductions, the facts demonstrate industry response was considerable even without the pandemic implications.

Beyond Texas, methane emissions rates were down nearly 70% in five of the nation’s largest oil and natural gas producing regions between 2011 and 2019, according to data from the EPA and EIA. Initiatives like the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition, the Environmental Partnership and other industry-led initiatives have been bold in their efforts to end routine flaring and reduce methane emissions even further.

The study authors’ assertion that Texas oil and natural gas development is somehow lawless is ludicrous.

The oil and natural gas industry, and flaring specifically, are highly regulated and in fact more rigorously regulated than ever. Statewide Rule 32 establishes clear parameters around what circumstances allow for flaring and is designed to minimize routine flaring. Earthworks was aware of these regulations, yet misleadingly tagged the flaring observed in their study as “illegal.” Further, when observing flares, they literally guessed which operators owned these flares. It goes without saying that methodology that is rooted in guesswork and conclusions that clearly and purposefully ignore current regulations are not scientific nor credible.

It pains the Earthworks of the world to acknowledge that we need reliable, affordable energy to survive. As Texas Tech University School of Law Professor William Keffer wrote recently, “Energy, and access to it, determines the economic wealth or poverty of every nation in the world.” The oil and natural gas industry is and will continue to be the cornerstone of a cleaner, stronger, better future with lower emissions and less carbon intensity. Unmatched investment, innovation and collaboration will deliver this future with the energy needed to maintain and improve modern life.

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Founded in 1919, TXOGA is the oldest and largest oil and gas trade association in Texas representing every facet of the industry.