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I’m not a lawyer, but I question the legal basis for the new methane rules. Methane is not a criteria pollutant under the clean air act, nor are the wells and pipelines traditional “major emitters,” so I’m not sure under what authority the administration can regulate methane emissions for new or modified wells or pipelines sited entirely on state or private lands. This is why no administration has ever tried to regulate methane emissions before in the more than 40 year history of the EPA.
Regardless of its authority to regulate methane it’s unnecessary, and in fact counterproductive, as a matter of policy, unless the true aim is not to protect human health but rather to further restrict fossil fuel use in the inane effort to control the climate. The U.S. natural gas industry is already the cleanest in the world. Even the EPA acknowledges natural sources, or other sources such as livestock or landfills account for the majority of methane emissions, not natural gas production or transport, so with this rule, the EPA is really majoring in minors. Despite a tremendous increase in natural gas production during since 1990 due to the fracking revolution, methane emissions have fallen 6 percent. That’s because natural gas is money so producers and pipeline operators already have the incentive to capture every bit of it they can and not lose it to leaks. As a result, less than 1 1/2 percent of all natural gas produced, is lost.
If these unnecessary rules are allowed to go forward and not struck down by the courts, the only result will be to inhibit future natural gas operations and to undermine incentives for existing well and pipeline operators to undertake modifications to make their wells more efficient, or cleaner because a such changes, will result in having to comply with the new rules.
The rules by increasing the regulatory costs on operations, will raise the price to explore, produce and deliver natural gas, increase the costs to consumers of electricity, reduce the nation’s energy security, and undermine an expanding bright spot in foreign trade while undermining our efforts to help Europe become free of Russia’s geopolitical machinations using natural gas as a bargaining chip.
Finally, if natural gas prices rise due to these rules, developing countries, rather than building Liquefied Natural Gas import terminals to access U.S. natural gas for electric power plants, will turn even more to cheap, abundant coal for their electric power needs — a result that should leave climate alarmists, even more alarmed since it will mean a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Nothing good comes from these new rules.