September 5, 2018: The Methane Emissions Triangle
In an op-ed that I recently read in the Wall Street Journal, it seems that the author is stating that neither side in the climate change argument has any real answers to the problem, and in my opinion, it is unlikely they will come to an agreement. One point that the author makes is that status quo is a problem. I agree with that point and will take it one step further; we can agree to disagree on climate change and still successfully address methane emissions.
I believe that the status quo from the perspective of the natural gas industry, as it specifically relates to methane emissions, can harm the reputation and competitiveness of the industry. That is one of the reasons that ONE Future was created in 2014, to ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of natural gas.
We in the industry must change the way we view methane emissions. I believe that many in our industry equate methane emissions reductions with climate change. While I don’t think industry would argue that methane has an environmental impact, I believe that industry needs to think of methane emissions reductions in a totally different way.
While the environment is very important to everyone, we in industry need to change our way of thinking about why we need to reduce methane emissions and as a result change the status quo.
I believe that methane emission reductions should be viewed as a triangle. At the top point is safety. All in the industry view safety as a priority; reducing methane emissions is a key element in increasing safety for our employees and for those who live near our facilities.
The second point is investors. Companies have a fiduciary responsibility to effectively and efficiently utilize the capital resources provided by investors. Some investors have been pushing back on companies to demonstrate how they are using resources in a sustainable manner, while continuing to make a profit.
The third point is customers. Customers are why companies are in business. Natural gas companies want to produce and deliver the commodity that is purchased. Each part of the value chain has a responsibility to do that.
As you can see; all three of these points are intertwined, thus the imagery of the triangle, and within the triangle resides the environment. If the industry will focus on the triangle as it relates to methane emissions, then the environment and the natural gas industry will both be winners.
Richard Hyde, Executive Director