UT Faculty Urge University Lands to Reduce Methane Pollution

Media Contacts

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN – Faculty of the University of Texas System released a letter today urging UT Chancellor McRaven to reduce the climate-damaging methane emissions occurring at oil and gas facilities on land managed by the UT System. The letter has more than 177 faculty signatures and ran as an ad in the Wednesday edition of UT Austin’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan.

“UT wants us to be leaders for our students,” said David Matiella of UT San Antonio’s Department of Architecture. The professors who signed onto this letter want UT to step up and be a leader on managing our public lands.”

Matiella, joined by the non-profit Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, called for the creation of a “Methane Advisory Committee” to research the environmental effects of, and possible solutions to, methane released on University Lands.

Invisible and odorless, methane is a potent greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and is responsible for 25% of current global warming. Using EPA data, Environment Texas estimates that over the past few years, methane emissions on UT lands have nearly doubled. From 2009 to 2014, oil and gas produced the equivalent of 11.7 million tons of climate pollution. In one year, this pollution carries the same short term climate impact as 2.5 million cars or 3.4 coal-fired power plants.

The release of the faculty letter and newspaper ad are the latest developments in a two-year campaign to get UT to reduce pollution from its lands. Since September:

  • The UT Austin student government passed a resolution calling on UT to cut methane.
  • FJC, a Foundation of Philanthropic Funds, sent a letter in January informing Chancellor McRaven of their interest in working with the University of Texas System to develop a loan program for the purpose of reducing methane emissions from oil and gas leases on University Lands.
  • 3,560 petitions from students collected at UT Austin, San Antonio, Arlington, Dallas, Rio Grande Valley, Health Sciences Center in Houston and UTMB Galveston were delivered to the Chancellor.
  • More than 138,000 people at nine UT campuses viewed ads on social media and many more saw three full-page ads in The Daily Texan, one full-page ad in UTSA’s Paisano, and one week of e-newsletters at Arlington.
  • Ten students and others entered an art contest with original works illustrating why UT should cut its pollution.
  • 188 alumni of the UT System have written Chancellor McRaven

“Pollution from oil drilling on UT land is damaging our climate, putting Texas and future generations at risk,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “Affordable technology and industry best practices could cut this pollution in half, and UT needs to insist that all the companies who make money off our lands start using it.”