Williams and Climate Change: Position Statement
Williams believes that its focus on safe, reliable development and delivery of clean-burning natural gas can be a part of our nation’s solution to addressing climate change.
In general, Williams’ response to global climate change will align with the way we manage, process and conserve resources, as well as how we protect ourselves, our communities and the environment. We simply believe it’s about running the company the right way. The company has been publishing the results of its greenhouse gas inventories since 2007 in its corporate responsibility reports and to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
The following are the major points in the company’s position on climate change.
Natural gas plays a vital role in achieving our country’s energy goals. At present and for years to come, natural gas is the nation’s fuel of choice to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Policies created at the state, regional and federal level should take into account the transitional benefits of natural gas as part of our country’s solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Companies which produce, process and transport natural gas should not face additional costs until alternative energy choices are commercial and economically viable.
Williams is in favor of mandatory federal guidelines for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The company endorses federal mandates because that is far preferable to a patchwork of regional and state programs that will be more costly and present compliance challenges. In additional, states should not be permitted to impose stricter standards than those at the federal level.
Future regulations should minimize the burden on the U.S. economy. While incentives and funding may be designed to promote the development of low- or no-carbon alternatives, these programs must reflect a balanced and realistic approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Any taxes, penalties or caps should be designed to send a transparent signal to consumers who have realistic alternatives.
Emissions reductions programs should be simple, stable and economy-wide. A carbon tax on consumption would appear to be the simplest and most efficient way to impact behavior by providing direct economic incentives to lower emissions while raising funds for research and development of carbon reduction, sequestration and storage programs, or renewable fuel alternatives. Though Williams recommends a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade approach. If a market-based approach is developed, markets should be designed carefully with rules and oversight which prevent manipulation, but remain free of the kind of intervention that mutes market signals.
The point of regulation for natural gas belongs downstream. The most recent federal legislative proposals have recommended that the point of regulation – or the point where CO2 emissions are accounted for in the natural gas industry, should be with the natural gas processors. For Williams, that would mean our Midstream operations would be responsible for all of the carbon dioxide in the natural gas stream which the plants receive – even though those emissions occur downstream when the gas is delivered to consumers. The company would prefer that the point of regulation be located downstream by actual emitters.
Offset and credits should be available to reduce the cost of allowances. If a market is created for CO2 allowances, Williams believes that the full range of offsets and credits should be available as substitutes to provide the most cost-effective options for emitters to meet their allowance obligations. For example, if we arrange to plant 1,000 trees in a rainforest to assist in carbon capture, the value of that carbon reduction should be reflected, and subtracted, from our total emissions.
Uniform reporting protocols must be implemented. Those responsible for capping and/or reporting emissions should not be exposed to a complicated mixture of reporting regimes in the various states or regions. A federal program should feature a single national platform for reporting and tracking emissions, and for validation and tracking of credits, offsets and allowances.
Has the company taken any other actions regarding climate change?
Yes. There are several efforts underway in the company, in addition to developing an overall strategy. For instance, various groups within the company continue to monitor climate change initiatives from regulatory and industry peer perspectives to evaluate possible strategies for Williams. Business unit Environmental, Health and Safety professionals are participating in the American Petroleum Institute’s climate change steering committee efforts to stay informed on the topic. Our regulated gas pipeline business is participating with Interstate Natural Gas Association of America in its efforts to develop a consistent methodology for calculating baseline emissions. Our former exploration and production group in the Piceance Basin implemented a best management practice from the Environmental Protection Agency Natural Gas Star program involving the recovery of natural gas that would otherwise be vented, or flared, into the atmosphere. These are just a few examples.
What are the issues involved in developing a program to inventory emissions?
Deciding on the measurement criteria, collecting data and verifying the data are all large, complex processes.
Does Williams engage in trading greenhouse gas emissions credits?
Williams is not currently engaged in greenhouse gas emissions trading.