Home / Blog / New report reveals foreboding side effect stemming from the recent Texas heat waves: ‘It is sadly ironic’

New report reveals foreboding side effect stemming from the recent Texas heat waves: ‘It is sadly ironic’

Jun 10, 2023Jun 10, 2023

Amid the region’s recent series of extreme heat waves, the West Texas gas supply infrastructure witnessed a number of failures that led to the release of tons of excess pollution into the air.

According to The Texas Tribune, gas pipeline operators in the state reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that the high temperatures led compressor stations to scale back or shut down completely.

As a result, pressure began to build up in pipes, and the only solution was to release it into the atmosphere to avoid a dangerous situation.

With temperatures exceeding 105 degrees Fahrenheit in Texas counties in June, the state’s gas supply was put under notable strain.

In Reagan County, for example, temperatures peaked at 111 degrees Fahrenheit, The Texas Tribune reported. The region experienced one release of 238,000 pounds of natural gas on June 20.

Nine polluting events occurred in Reagan County in June, making up half of the occurrences recorded in the West Texas gas fields during the month, per the Tribune. Environmental watchdog Public Citizen reported 362 tons of natural gas were expelled during those events.

The Tribune reported that in Public Citizen’s investigation, the group’s Texas director Adrian Shelley said: “It is sadly ironic that the fossil fuel industry is seeing its equipment threatened by a situation it helped create.”

As temperatures continue to rise, the West Texas gas fields could see similar events as long as these infrastructure problems persist.

In an analysis of temperature data from The Texas Tribune, it was revealed that “there were more than 1,600 days when a heat record was matched or broken at one of 22 weather stations across Texas” over the last 10 years.

With those temperatures exacerbated by a warming climate, and with the warming climate exacerbated by the release of polluting gas into the atmosphere, this could result in a cycle that will be difficult to stop.

“The methane that is being emitted from these facilities is further driving climate change and the health harms that all of Texas is experiencing,” Laura Kate Bender, assistant vice president for the American Lung Association’s Healthy Air campaign, told the Tribune.

With regard to gas production in Texas, Todd Staples, the president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement to the Tribune that there is a “continued commitment towards achieving lower emissions through operational efficiencies.” He added that insulation, equipment shelters, sunshades, wind walls, monitoring, and backup power generation are among the measures to prepare for hot weather.

However, the larger solution would involve cutting our reliance on natural gas. Switching to power solutions such as solar or wind power will help send a message that gas is not as in demand as it once was, reducing the need for production.

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