Dominion Resources, Inc. Methane Emissions Report 2014
|Company||Dominion Resources, Inc.|
|Subject(s)||Air Pollution; Climate Change; Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Worker Safety|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Fugitive Methane Report|
|Supporting Memo||Download PDF|
Natural gas development has been publicized for its superior environmental profile; however, fugitive methane emissions in the oil and gas sector represent one of the most rapidly growing sources of anthropogenic methane emissions in the US, contributing 20 percent of short-term global warming impact. Dominion Resources relies heavily on natural gas in its business model and plans to substantially increase investment in natural gas assets. The promise of natural gas as a bridge fuel to a more sustainable energy future is under question, given the high short-term climate impact of methane emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that methane has 25 times more impact on temperature as CO2 over a 100 year period and 72 times more impact over a 20 year period.
Methane is the primary component of natural gas and is emitted across the value chain during production, processing, transmission, storage, and distribution. Emissions have not been tightly regulated, measured, monitored, mitigated, or disclosed, creating a risk to industry, operators, and environment alike. Studies from Cornell and the University of Colorado estimate highly varied methane leakage rates as a percentage of production, creating uncertainty and garnering attention from Forbes and The New York Times. The International Energy Agency highlights the risk of failing to implement best practice measurement and disclosure in its 2012 report “The Golden Age of Natural Gas.”
Dominion Resources currently operates one of the largest natural gas storage and transportation systems in the U.S. and is planning to expand significantly its natural gas power plant generation capacity. Methane leakage has a direct economic impact on Dominion Resources because lost gas is not available for sale and causes climate change and environmental impacts, whereas natural gas captured through control processes can be sold in the market, generating positive returns.
Methane emissions from natural gas pose a risk to shareholders’ investments and the company’s social license to operate. Dominion Resources has a responsibility to implement a program of measurement, mitigation, disclosure, and target setting. Some operations may currently incorporate best practice management; however, the risk of leaks at high growth or select geographies can negate best practices elsewhere. Without such a program, Dominion cannot quantify with any certainty, and thus minimize, the extent of risk to shareholders or the environment resulting from its methane emissions.
Measuring, mitigating and setting reduction targets for methane emissions could improve worker safety, maximize available energy resources, reduce economic waste, protect human health, and reduce environmental impacts. Upgrading production assets may also improve performance, making assets more robust and less susceptible to upsets and downtime.
Shareholders request that the Board of Directors publish a report for investors within 6 months of the 2014 annual meeting, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on how Dominion Resources is measuring, mitigating, setting reduction targets, and disclosing methane emissions.