Published on Feb 7, 2017
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From the perspective of business, engaging employees is critical to developing and advancing a company’s sustainability goals. The feeling is mutual from the perspective of current, not to mention future employees: A company’s sustainability goals are important to the process of attracting and retaining the top talent.
But meaningful engagement across the entire spectrum of a company’s operations can be challenging. Many employees are often unsure how their job roles connect with a company’s sustainability programs and strategies, and many companies find it challenging to integrate — and inspire — leadership on sustainability in the day-to-day activities in their workforce. The net result: Employees often end up being an underused and undermotivated resource in a company’s sustainability journey.
Dow recognized these challenges early on and began to address them with its company-wide commitment to 2015, and now, 2025 Sustainability Goals, which have sought to redefine the role that business plays in society. A primary objective of the goals is to mobilize the human element — employees, suppliers, customers and the communities in which they live and work — to improve the well-being of people the world over.
To take the 2025 goals to the next level within the company, Dow collaborated with the Erb Institute of the University of Michigan in 2017 to design and launch the Dow Sustainability Academy. The Dow-Erb partnership has proven to be incredibly successful, productive, fun and, yes, sustainable. Dow brought to the table its decades of experience on making business sustainability real, and Erb brought its 20-year track record of being at the leading edge of research and teaching at the intersection of business, society and the environment.
The result of this partnership is a business-sustainability leadership and development program that provides Dow employees with the tools and insights they need to bring sustainability into their daily work. As part of the academy, Dow employees — selected as part of a competitive, application-based process — spend a week in training at the Erb Institute.
During this time, they learn from and interact with some of the world’s leading experts on a wide range of topics, from making the business case for sustainability and the policy backdrop against which business sustainability unfolds, to hands-on tools for implementing the elusive triple bottom line. When the in-class sessions come to a close, academy participants work on real-world projects related to one of the Dow sustainability goals and are given six months to use what they learned in Ann Arbor to complete them.
Recently, we had the pleasure of watching project teams from the second group of academy members present their project solutions to Dow leaders, as well as to the next contingent of employees chosen to be part of the academy. Each team passed along their advice to their successors in the academy, and it struck us while we listed to them that their learnings apply to not only academy participants but to anyone seeking to collaborate, stretch and grow at their company and in their career.
Here’s some of what we heard:
Avoid solutions that are attractive only because they are obvious or easy. One team was asked to determine the theoretical limits of how much emissions can be reduced from each Dow site, plant, equipment and technology. The aim was to help Dow achieve its 2025 Operations Sustainability Goal of growing the company globally over the next decade without allowing the company’s greenhouse gas emissions to exceed its 2006 baseline.
Team members had to reach outside their area of expertise and talk with dozens of people across Dow sites to understand and catalog the possible opportunities. By asking questions and — importantly — challenging assumptions about what previously were thought to be the performance range of various technologies and equipment, the group was able to identify additional, significant opportunities for reducing emissions.
When you face challenges, remember that your vision and passion are your North Star. All the projects carried out by academy participants require engaging in complex systems and with multiple stakeholders. In this kind of environment, sustainability objectives aren’t easy to define, and decisions must be made in an information-rich environment characterized by high levels of uncertainty.
One team, tasked with reducing food waste at a Dow site as part of the company’s goal to advance a circular economy, admitted that it was easy to get lost in rabbit holes or mired in red tape. However, by being true to their vision of what was possible, and by being persistent — “no” was not an acceptable answer — they were able to find both a workable solution for composting at a Dow site and identify local groups receptive and able to receive the compost.
Make “change agent” part of your job description. There’s a saying at Erb: When it comes to sustainability in business, be prepared to invent the job you want and then go do it. In other words, don’t wait to be anointed; being a change agent is a title you can bestow upon yourself.
The same goes for participants in the academy. One group was tasked with identifying a single project that aligned neatly with Dow’s valuing nature goal; the requirements were that the project had to be good for business but even better for the natural environment. Rather than identifying just one project, members took it upon themselves to identify one project each, for a total of three. From creating sustainable prairie habitat at company headquarter and planting native grasses to reduce erosion at a Seadrift, Texas, site to waste reduction at a plant in Freeport, Texas, these projects were heralded for their ability to cut emissions, rehabilitate the environment and bring business value to Dow.
As we get set to embark upon our fourth Dow Sustainability Academy, we could not be more delighted by what we have seen from those who have graduated from it. By thinking critically and creatively about sustainability’s role on the job, employees not only found answers to drive Dow’s sustainable practices but established critical leadership skills.
They learned to apply ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to address sustainability challenges and to respond to sustainability opportunities.
They began to see those sustainability decisions are real opportunities for setting and then achieving objectives and that business sustainability really is a journey that will require vision, leadership and course corrections along the way.
And they found that no matter their job titles, they actively could incorporate tools for sustainability into their jobs — and into their lives outside of work — in order to be champions for lasting, positive change.
That’s a win for employees, for Dow and Erb, and — most importantly — for society
Siemens and Southern Idaho Solid Waste announce the commissioning of landfill gas-to-energy project
Siemens gas engines generating electrical power from landfill gas to provide energy for approximately 2,000 homes in Idaho
Two engines convert 1,000 tons of landfill waste daily into energy
The project marks successful use of Siemens’ highly-energy-efficient engines to capture and use methane
Siemens and Southern Idaho Solid Waste (SISW) recently announced the successful commissioning of two SGE-56HM gas engines that are providing environmentally friendly electrical power for a landfill gas-to-energy project at the Milner Butte Landfill in Burley, Idaho. Siemens’ gas capture engines are helping to convert 1,000 tons of landfill waste daily into energy but SISW officials expect that amount to increase in the near future.
Decomposing waste gives off massive amounts of greenhouse gases, especially methane. SISW engineers worked with Siemens and Siemens’ channel partner, Industrial-Irrigation Services, to develop a solution that would capture the methane for use as a fuel gas to produce electricity. “We saw this gas and realized we were just wasting it by burning it for no productive use,” said SISW’s environmental manager, Nate Francisco.
To capture methane and convert it into electricity, the Milner Butte Landfill deployed two Siemens SGE-56HM gas generator sets to run on the waste gas from the landfill and generate electrical power. Once the landfill gas is converted to electricity, it is transported to Idaho Power through a 20-year purchase agreement and is used by the community as a low-cost source of power. To date, the two engines have been generating enough power for approximately 2,000 homes. Each set is rated at
1,300kWe and includes generator controls and a power panel.
Siemens SGE-HM series is purpose-built for landfill gas-to-energy power applications. By incorporating advanced technology and design into the cylinder heads, valves, camshafts, and turbochargers, the SGE-56HM engine provides customers like SISW with a high-performing low-operating-cost solution.
“We expect these engines to remain in operation for 20 to 30 years,” said Josh Bartlome, executive director at SISW. “They’re big engines built for endurance.”
SISW estimates that within the next 20 years the facility will generate approximately $36 million in revenue, netting about a third of that after costs and inflation. Creating a long-term revenue generator like this model used by SISW will allow the District to realize lower power costs.
“The Milner Butte Landfill project represents the future of distributed power,” said Chris Nagle, North American Regional Director for Siemens Gas Engines business. “This plant assists the local community with its power needs while being environmentally responsible. Siemens is proud to support SISW and Industrial-Irrigation Services with this project.”
This press release and press pictures are available at www.siemens.com/press/
For further information on Siemens Gas Engines, please see: https://sie.ag/2MOzVRJ
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This TED Talk heralds a new era in fighting climate change, from space
Watch this video to learn about a bold, new initiative to combat global warming
EDF and partners are launching a rocket to put a new satellite in orbit that could change the course of global warming in our lifetimes.
MethaneSAT will gather data about a pollutant – methane – that’s warming the planet, and put that data in the hands of people who can easily fix the problem.
EDF President Fred Krupp unveiled the groundbreaking project at TED’s flagship event in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of The Audacious Project, successor to the TED Prize.
Just the first step will have the same near-term climate benefit as shutting down one-third of the world’s coal-fired power plants.
Fred Krupp, EDF President
Our goal is to cut methane emissions 45 percent by 2025, and the data gathered by this satellite will make that possible. Nothing else will have the same kind of near-term impact at such a low cost.
The power of information
To learn the magnitude of the problem with methane, we collected data with drones, planes, helicopters, even Google Street View cars. It turned out that emissions are up to five times higher than what the government is reporting.
So we didn’t wait for Washington. We published our research, shared it with everyone and saw them take action. Leading oil and gas companies replaced valves and tightened loose-fitting pipes. Colorado became the first state to limit methane pollution. California followed suit, and the public joined in.
By bringing the right people to the table – and leveraging the best of technology, science, data and partnerships – we were able to make the invisible visible, empowering everyone. This enabled us to find new solutions that can be taken to scale and make a lasting impact.
And that’s what the emerging Fourth Wave of environmentalism is all about.
Did you ever wonder what reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1 million metric tons means in everyday terms? The greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator can help you understand just that, translating abstract measurements into concrete terms you can understand, such as the annual emissions from cars, households, or power plants.
This calculator may be useful in communicating your greenhouse gas reduction strategy, reduction targets, or other initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In the Paris Agreement of 2015, member states agreed to limit global warming to 2 °C versus pre-industrial levels. This would imply reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 to 95 percent of the 1990 level by 2050. As industry accounted for about 28 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, it follows that these targets cannot be reached without decarbonizing industrial activities. Industrial sites have long lifetimes; therefore, upgrading or replacing these facilities to lower carbon emissions requires that planning and investments start well in advance.
In this report, we investigate options to decarbonize industrial processes, especially in the cement, steel, ethylene, and ammonia sectors. We selected these sectors because they are hard to abate, due to their relatively high share of emissions from feedstocks and high-temperature heat compared to other sectors. We conclude that decarbonizing industry is technically possible, even though technical and economical hurdles arise. We also identify the drivers of costs associated with decarbonization and the impact it will have on the broader energy system.
The industrial sector is both a global economic powerhouse and a major emitter of GHG emissions
The industrial sector is a vital source of wealth, prosperity, and social value on a global scale. Industrial companies produce about one-quarter of global GDP and employment and make materials and goods that are integral to our daily lives, such as fertilizer to feed the growing global population, steel and plastics for the cars we drive, and cement for the buildings we live and work in.
In 2014, direct GHG emissions from industrial processes and indirect GHG emissions from generating the electricity used in the industry made up ~15 Gton CO2e (~28 percent) of global GHG emissions. CO2 comprises over 90 percent of direct and indirect GHG emissions from industrial processes. Between 1990 and 2014, GHG emissions from the industrial sector increased by 69 percent (2.2 percent per year), while emissions from other sectors such as power, transport, and buildings increased by 23 percent (0.9 percent per year).
Almost 45 percent of industry’s CO2 emissions result from the manufacturing of cement (3 Gton CO2), steel (2.9 Gton CO2), ammonia (0.5 Gton CO2), and ethylene (0.2 Gton CO2)—the four sectors that are the focus of this report. In these four production processes, about 45 percent of CO2 emissions come from feedstocks, which are the raw materials that companies process into industrial products (for example, limestone in cement production and natural gas in ammonia production). Another 35 percent of CO2 emissions come from burning fuel to generate high-temperature heat. The remaining 20 percent of CO2 emissions are the result of other energy requirements: either the onsite burning of fossil fuels to produce medium- or low-temperature heat, and other uses on the industrial site (about 13 percent) or machine drive (about 7 percent) (see Exhibit 1).
Exhibit 1: Why are the steel, cement, ammonia, and ethylene sectors hard to abate?
Source: IEA data from World Energy Statistics © OECD/IEA 2017 IEA Publishing; Enerdata: global energy and CO2 data; expert interviews
After breakthroughs in the power, transport, and buildings sectors, industrial decarbonization is the next frontier
Global efforts have driven innovation and the scaling up of decarbonization technologies for the power, buildings, and transport sectors. This has led to major reductions in the costs of these technologies. Examples are the recent reductions in the costs of solar photovoltaic modules and electric vehicles. Less innovation and cost reduction have taken place for industrial decarbonization technologies. This makes the pathways for reducing industrial CO2emissions less clear than they are for other sectors.
Besides that, CO2 emissions in the four focus sectors are hard to abate for four technical reasons. First, the 45 percent of CO2 emissions that result from feedstocks cannot be abated by a change in fuels, only by changes to processes. Second, 35 percent of emissions come from burning fossil fuels to generate high-temperature heat (in the focus sectors, process temperatures can reach 700 °C to over 1,600 °C). Abating these emissions by switching to alternative fuels such as zero-carbon electricity would be difficult because this would require significant changes to the furnace design. Third, industrial processes are highly integrated, so any change to one part of a process must be accompanied by changes to other parts of that process. Finally, production facilities have long lifetimes, typically exceeding 50 years (with regular maintenance). Changing processes at existing sites requires costly rebuilds or retrofits.
Economic factors add to the challenge. Cement, steel, ammonia, and ethylene are commodity products for which cost is the decisive consideration in purchasing decisions. With the exception of cement, these products are traded globally. Generally, across all four sectors, externalities are not priced in and the willingness to pay more for a sustainable or decarbonized product is not yet there. Therefore, companies that increase their production costs by adopting low-carbon processes and technologies will find themselves at an economic disadvantage to industrial producers that do not.
Industrial companies can reduce CO2 emissions in various ways, with the optimum local mix depending on the availability of biomass, carbon-storage capacity and low-cost zero-carbon electricity and hydrogen, as well as projection changes in production capacity
A combination of decarbonization technologies could bring industry emissions close to zero: demand-side measures, energy efficiency improvements, electrification of heat, using hydrogen (made with zero-carbon electricity) as feedstock or fuel, using biomass as feedstock or fuel, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and other innovations.
The optimum mix of decarbonization options depends greatly on local factors. The most important factors are access to low-cost zero-carbon electricity and access to a suitable kind of sustainably produced biomass because most processes in the focus sectors have significant energy- and energy-carrier-related feedstock requirements that could be replaced by one or both of these alternatives. The local availability of carbon storage capacity and public and regulatory support for carbon storage determine whether CCS is an option. The regional growth outlook for the four focus sectors matters, too, because certain decarbonization options are cost-effective for use at existing (brownfield) industrial facilities while others are more economical for newly built (greenfield) facilities.
Since the optimum combination of decarbonization options will vary greatly from one facility to the next, companies will need to evaluate their options on a site-specific basis. To help industrial companies narrow down their options and focus on the most promising ones, we offer the following observations, which account for current commodity prices and technologies (see Exhibit 2):
Energy efficiency improvements can reduce carbon emissions competitively, but cannot lead to deep decarbonization on their own. Energy efficiency improvements that lower fuel consumption by 15 to 20 percent can be economical in the long run. However, depending on the payback times on energy efficiency required by companies (sometimes less than two years), implementation can be less than the potential of 15 to 20 percent.
Where carbon-storage sites are available, CCS is the lowest-cost decarbonization option at current commodity prices. However, CCS is not necessarily a straightforward option for decarbonization. CCS imposes an additional operational cost on industrial companies, whereas further innovation could make alternative decarbonization options (for example, electrification of heat) cost competitive vis-à-vis conventional production technology. CCS can only be implemented in regions with adequate carbon-storage locations, and supportive local regulations and public opinion. CCS has the distinction of being the only technology that can currently fully abate process-related CO2 emissions from cement production.
At zero-carbon electricity prices below ~USD 50/MWh, using zero-carbon electricity for heat or using hydrogen based on zero-carbon electricity becomes more economical than CCS. Electricity prices below USD 50/MWh have already been achieved locally (e.g., hydro and nuclear-based power-system of Sweden) and could be achieved in more places with the current downward cost trend in renewable electricity generation. The minimum price that makes it less expensive to switch to zero-carbon electricity than to apply CCS for decarbonization depends strongly on the sector, local fossil fuel and other commodity prices and the state of the production site.
» At electricity prices below ~USD50/MWh, electrifying heat production at greenfield cement plants is more cost-competitive than applying CCS to the emissions from fuel consumption, provided that very-high-temperature electric furnaces are available.[7, 8]
» At electricity prices below ~USD35/MWh, hydrogen use for greenfield ammonia and steel production sites is more cost-competitive than applying CCS to conventional production processes.
» At electricity prices below ~USD25/MWh, electrification of heat in greenfield ethylene production and in brownfield cement production and usage of hydrogen for brownfield steel production are more cost-competitive than applying CCS to conventional production processes.
» Finally, below an electricity price of ~USD15/MWh, usage of hydrogen for brownfield ammonia production and electrification of heat for ethylene production are more cost-competitive than applying CCS to conventional production processes. This means that electric heat production and usage of electricity to make hydrogen are more economical approaches to decarbonization than CCS in all four focus sectors at this electricity price level.
Exhibit 2: With low electricity prices, cost-based trade-offs will favor more electrification and hydrogen than CCS
Lower costs for capital equipment or process innovations could make electrification or the use of zero-carbon electricity based hydrogen economical at higher electricity prices.
Using biomass as a fuel or feedstock is financially more attractive than the electrification of heat or the use of hydrogen in cement production and at electricity prices above ~USD 20/MWh in steel production. Mature technologies are available for using biomass as fuel and feedstock in steel and as fuel in cement production. These technologies reduce emissions more economically than CCS on the conventional process. Biomass can also replace fossil fuel feedstocks for ethylene and ammonia production. Though this approach costs more than electrification or hydrogen usage, it also abates emissions in both the process and at end-of-life of the product, such as the emissions from incineration of plastics made from ethylene. The global supply of sustainably produced biomass, however, is deemed limited at the global level. Additionally, re-forestation to generate offsets might be a counter use of biomass rather than the shipping and usage in industrial processes.
Demand-side measures are effective for decarbonization but were not a focus of this report. Replacing conventional industrial products with lower-emission alternatives (e.g., replacement of cement with wood for construction) would result in significant reductions in CO2 emissions from the four focus sectors. Radical changes in consumption patterns driven by technology changes could further offset demand, such as reduced build-out of roads (and therefore cement) through autonomous driving, reduced demand for ammonia through precision agriculture. Moreover increasing the circularity of products, by e.g., recycling or reusing them can also cut CO2 emissions. Producing material based on recycled products generally consumes less energy and feedstock than the production of virgin materials. As an example, producing steel from steel scrap requires only about a quarter of the energy required to produce virgin steel.
Industrial decarbonization will require increased investment in industrial sites and has to go hand in hand with an accelerated build-out of zero-carbon electricity generation
Completely decarbonizing the energy-intensive industrial processes in the four focus sectors will have a major impact on the energy system. It is estimated that it would require ~25 EJ to 55 EJ per year of low-cost zero-carbon electricity. In a business-as-usual world, only 6 EJ per year would be needed, indicating that, regardless of the mix of decarbonization options chosen, electricity consumption will go up significantly. The transition in the power and industrial sectors should thus go hand in hand. The industrial sector might be able to lower the costs of the power sector transition, e.g., by providing grid balancing, while being a large off-taker that can support increased build-out of generation capacity.
The total costs of fully decarbonizing these four sectors globally are estimated to be ~USD 21 trillion between today and 2050. This can be lowered to ~USD 11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices (see Exhibit 3). These estimates are based on cost assumptions that do not allow for process innovations or significant reductions in the costs of capital equipment. Furthermore, they heavily depend on the emission reduction target, local commodity prices, the selected mix of decarbonization options, and the current state of the production site. The estimated costs for complete decarbonization of the four focus sectors are equivalent to a yearly cost of ~0.4 to 0.8 percent of global GDP (USD 78 trillion). According to the estimations in this report, about 50 to 60 percent of these costs consist of operating expenses and the remainder consists of capital expenditures, mainly for cement decarbonization.
An analysis of the effects of different electricity prices suggests that decarbonization would have an upward impact on the costs of the industrial products: cement doubling in price, ethylene seeing a price increase of ~40 to 50 percent, and steel and ammonia experiencing a ~5 to 35 percent increase in price.
Exhibit 3: The total costs of decarbonization are highly dependent on the electricity price
Source: McKinsey Energy Insights
Advance planning and timely action could drive technological maturation, lower the cost of industrial decarbonization and ensure the industry energy transition advances in parallel with required changes in energy supply
Governments can develop roadmaps for industrial decarbonization on local and regional levels. Setting such a longer-term direction for decarbonization could support planning for decarbonization by other parties, including industrial companies, utilities and owners of key infrastructure (such as the electricity grid or hydrogen pipelines), and unlock investments with long payback times. Such a roadmap should take a perspective, e.g., on the production outlook, resource availability (including carbon-storage sites), additional resources required (zero-carbon electricity generation, etc.), coordinated roll-out of infrastructure and demand-side measures, as well as the role government would play (e.g., in the development of critical infrastructure).
Adjust regulation and incentives in line with decarbonization roadmaps. Various policy mechanisms could support industrial decarbonization. These might include direct incentives for companies to decarbonize or adjustments to the financial requirements placed on utilities and other companies involved in energy generation and distribution.
Industrial companies should prepare for decarbonization by conducting a detailed review of each facility in their portfolio. Such a review should include the availability of low-cost zero-carbon electricity, zero-carbon hydrogen, biomass, and carbon-storage capacity near the facility as these will differ on a country-by-country basis. Interaction with other stakeholders, such as governments, utilities, and other industrial companies, could help to identify synergies between industrial decarbonization and decarbonization in other sectors or companies, driving targeted innovation and driving down costs. For example, companies in an industrial cluster might benefit from shared carbon-storage infrastructure.
Governments, industrial companies, and research institutions can support innovation and the scale-up of promising decarbonization technologies, which is required to reach full decarbonization of the industrial sector. Innovative decarbonization technologies could potentially lower the costs of the industry transition. Governments can support the development of innovative decarbonization options, including the scale-up of global markets, e.g., in certain types of biomass, or the introduction of innovative processes to lower implementation costs. Overall, decarbonizing industrial sectors requires collaboration across governments, industrial players, and research institutes, similar to the effort that led to the cost reduction and scale-up of renewable energy generation.
McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com. Copyright (c) 2018 McKinsey & Company. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.
About the authors
Occo Roelofsen is a Senior Partner, Arnout de Pee is a Partner, Eveline Speelman is an Associate Partner, and Maaike Witteveen is an Engagement Manager in McKinsey’s Amsterdam office. Dickon Pinner is a Senior Partner in McKinsey’s San Francisco office and Ken Somers is a Partner in McKinsey’s Antwerp office.
 Feedstocks are the raw materials that companies process into industrial products. High-temperature heat is defined in this report as a temperature requirement above 500 °C.
 Based on IEA data from the World Emissions Database © OECD/IEA 2018, IEA Publishing; modified by McKinsey.
 Breakdown of emissions is defined by the use of various reports and datasets, most importantly IEA, Enerdata, heat and cooling demand, market perspective (JRC 2012), and sector energy consumption flow charts by the US Department of Energy combined with input from experts. Activities up and down the value chain are not included in these numbers and could lead to additional emissions, e.g., transportation of fuel to the production site or incineration of ethylene-based plastics at end of product life.
 Other innovations can be non-fossil-fuel feedstock change (e.g., alternatives for limestone feedstock in cement production) and other innovative processes (e.g., reduction of iron ore with electrolysis).
 At the current state of technology, process emissions from cement production can only be abated by a change in the feedstock. Alternatives for the conventional feedstock (limestone) are not available (yet) at scale. Hence, decarbonizing cement production currently relies on CCS.
 The zero-carbon electricity price should be the average wholesale industrial end user price, so including, e.g., transmission, distribution, and storage costs.
 Electrification of very-high-temperature heat (>1,600 °C) required in cement production would require research, as these temperatures are not yet reached in electric furnaces.
 Process emissions from cement production cannot be abated by a fuel change and therefore require CCS, irrespective of electricity prices.
 These total costs include all capital and operational costs on industrial sites, but exclude other costs, e.g., build-out of zero-carbon electricity generation capacity.
 Conventional prices assumed are: cement USD 120/ton, steel USD 700/ton, ammonia USD 300/ton and ethylene USD 1,000/ton.
Increased awareness of methane’s impact on the environment is leading to increased monitoring for methane leaks. In order to reduce the amount of methane emitted into the atmosphere, we need better detection technologies. Last summer, EDF collaborated with the world’s largest oilfield service company – Schlumberger – to test a variety of stationary and hand-held technologies to detect methane leaks from equipment in the upstream oil and gas sector. To learn more about how technology and innovation can help solve the methane problem visit business.edf.org.
Published on Mar 29, 2018
Washington — OSHA has published a fact sheet intended to help employers comply with the agency’s standard on worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica (1910.1053) for general industry and maritime.
The fact sheet highlights steps employers are required to take to protect employees, including assessing workplace exposures, establishing written exposure control plans and providing worker training.
The final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica for all industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.
Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. Exposure to silica dust can trigger silicosis, a chronic disease that involves scarring of the lungs. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, including 2 million in construction.
OSHA issued its final rule as separate standards – one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both standards went into effect in June 2016; however, general industry and maritime have until June 23 to comply, except in the following areas:
Medical surveillance must be available by June 23, 2020, to employees who will be exposed to levels at or above the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift for 30 or more days a year.
Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must institute – by June 23, 2021 – dust controls to limit exposures to the new PEL.
Satellite measurement is an ideal method for monitoring methane emissions from shale gas operations. Current methods require crews to visit each facility on a regular basis, whereas GHGSat’s high resolution satellites can identify superemitters through periodic surveys of all shale gas operations, without any on-site equipment, at a fraction of the cost of current methods.
As of 2019, GHGSat aircraft measurements will provide very-high resolution measurements of shale gas plays to complement GHGSat satellite measurements. Very high resolution measurements from GHGSat aircraft sensors will enable detection of smaller leaks, and localize those leaks within a facility to facilitate repair. GHGSat aircraft sensors will leverage the same post-processing toolchain used by its satellites, thereby cross-validating results and providing cost-effective aircraft services.
GHGSat’s “tiered solution” will combine satellite and aircraft measurements in a single service to detect approximately 90% of all methane leaks (by volume) from shale gas operations. This service is unique – no other company can combine both satellite and aircraft measurements in a single, cost-effective service for shale gas operators.
They likened a courtroom ‘tutorial’ to the Scopes Monkey Trial. But their side got schooled.
Five American oil companies find themselves in a San Francisco courtroom. California v. Chevron is a civil action brought by the city attorneys of San Francisco and Oakland, who accuse the defendants of creating a “public nuisance” by contributing to climate change and of conspiring to cover it up so they could continue to profit.
No trial date has been set, but on March 21 the litigants gathered for a “climate change tutorial” ordered by Judge William Alsup —a prospect that thrilled climate-change alarmists. Excited spectators gathered outside the courtroom at 6 a.m., urged on by advocates such as the website Grist, which declared “Buckle up, polluters! You’re in for it now,” and likened the proceeding to the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.
In the event, the hearing did not go well for the plaintiffs—and not for lack of legal talent. Steve W. Berman, who represented the cities, is a star trial lawyer who has made a career and a fortune suing corporations for large settlements, including the $200 billion-plus tobacco settlement in 1998.
“Until now, fossil fuel companies have been able to talk about climate science in political and media arenas where there is far less accountability to the truth,” Michael Burger of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University told Grist. The hearing did mark a shift toward accountability—but perhaps not in the way activists would have liked.
Judge Alsup started quietly. He flattered the plaintiffs’ first witness, Oxford physicist Myles Allen, by calling him a “genius,” but he also reprimanded Mr. Allen for using a misleading illustration to represent carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a graph ostensibly about temperature rise that did not actually show rising temperatures.
Then the pointed questions began. Gary Griggs, an oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, struggled with the judge’s simple query: “What do you think caused the last Ice Age?”
The professor talked at length about a wobble in the earth’s orbit and went on to describe a period “before there were humans on the planet,” which “we call hothouse Earth.” That was when “all the ice melted. We had fossils of palm trees and alligators in the Arctic,” Mr. Griggs told the court. He added that at one time the sea level was 20 to 30 feet higher than today.
Mr. Griggs then recounted “a period called ‘snow ballers,’ ” when scientists “think the entire Earth was frozen due to changes in things like methane released from the ocean.”
Bear in mind these accounts of two apocalyptic climate events that occurred naturally came from a witness for plaintiffs looking to prove American oil companies are responsible for small changes in present-day climate.
The defendants’ lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. , emphasized the little-discussed but huge uncertainties in reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the failure of worst-case climate models to pan out in reality. Or as Judge Alsup put it: “Instead of doom and gloom, it’s just gloom.”
Mr. Boutrous also noted that the city of San Francisco—in court claiming that rising sea levels imperil its future—recently issued a 20-year bond, whose prospectus asserted the city was “unable to predict whether sea level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur.”
Judge Alsup was particularly scathing about the conspiracy claim. The plaintiffs alleged that the oil companies were in possession of “smoking gun” documents that would prove their liability; Mr. Boutrous said this was simply an internal summary of the publicly available 1995 IPCC report.
The judge said he read the lawsuit’s allegations to mean “that there was a conspiratorial document within the defendants about how they knew good and well that global warming was right around the corner. And I said: ‘OK, that’s going to be a big thing. I want to see it.’ Well, it turned out it wasn’t quite that. What it was, was a slide show that somebody had gone to the IPCC and was reporting on what the IPCC had reported, and that was it. Nothing more. So they were on notice of what in IPCC said from that document, but it’s hard to say that they were secretly aware. By that point they knew. Everybody knew everything in the IPCC,” he stated.
Judge Alsup then turned to Mr. Berman: “If you want to respond, I’ll let you respond. . . . Anything you want to say?”
“No,” said the counsel to the plaintiffs. Whereupon Judge Alsup adjourned the proceedings.
Until now, environmentalists and friendly academics have found a receptive audience in journalists and politicians who don’t understand science and are happy to defer to experts. Perhaps this is why the plaintiffs seemed so ill-prepared for their first court outings with tough questions from an informed and inquisitive judge.
Activists have long claimed they want their day in court so that the truth can be revealed. Given last week’s poor performance, they may be the ones who inherit the wind.
Mr. McAleer is a journalist, playwright and filmmaker. He is currently writing a play about Chevron Corp.’s legal fight over alleged pollution in Ecuador.
Re-Published from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL