You really have to hand it to the green zealots who populate the Obama White House and the Environmental Protection Agency. Their quest to destroy the fossil fuel industry is relentless and all too effective.
The damage that the Obama administration is willing to do to “decarbonize” the American economy apparently has no limit.
This latest fossil-fuels assault comes just two weeks after the administration announced new environmental rules that will take a wrecking ball to America’s coal industry. Those rules are designed to reduce coal production by about one-third over the next two decades and will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and raise the electric utility bills of most American families.
Now we have new regulations from the EPA to restrict leakages from oil and natural gas production. Well, actually, they call these restrictions on methane — which sounds menacing but is natural gas.
The plan is to reduce these emissions by almost half in a decade. This is draconian and potentially ruinous to the nascent shale oil and gas industry.
The new regulations are wrongheaded not just from an economic standpoint but from an environmental perspective as well. Natural gas is an abundant, made-in-America, cheap and clean-burning fuel.
The U.S. has reduced its carbon emissions, as even President Obama acknowledged earlier this year, more than any other industrial nation in the last five years.
The reason is that the shale oil and gas revolution is making natural gas plentiful and affordable, so we are using more of it.
So if you’re a global warming alarmist, you should be celebrating the new age of natural gas, not trying to shut it down.
Natural gas also reduces real pollutants, such as lead, sulphur and carbon monoxide, that really can make people sick from maladies like asthma.
The EPA contends that methane is 28 to 36 times more potent than carbon at trapping heat, which worsens global warming — and that we are spewing more toxic levels into the atmosphere than ever before.
Actually, the government’s own statistics reveal that methane emissions are down about 10% from 2005-12 even as natural gas production has risen by nearly one-third.
In other words, it’s getting cleaner without any intrusive interventions from the EPA’s green crusaders.
The amount of leakage into the atmosphere from fracking operations is minuscule, says Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research. “Cows emit more methane when they pass gas than the natural gas industry,” he notes.
The new rules are doubly moronic because EPA chief Gina McCarthy has said that the U.S. will have to rely more on “cleaner-burning energy sources like natural gas” for electric power production in order to comply with the anti-coal initiative.
So one day the EPA praises natural gas, and the next the agency wants to strangle it.
The only plausible answer is that cheap shale oil and gas are killing the renewable energy industry, in which Obama’s billionaire friends and contributors such as Tom Steyer have invested so heavily.
Over the last seven years, the price for natural gas has fallen to $3-$4 per thousand cubic feet from $12. It’s bankrupting “renewable energy” companies. Even with billions of dollars of Uncle Sam’s subsidies, wind and solar have no hope of competing with low-priced nat gas. It’s simple economics.
If the goal is for America to use clean energy and do it in a way that’s affordable for industry and consumers, then the Obama administration ought to be taking every step possible to facilitate shale gas production.
That these new regulations will achieve exactly the opposite outcome can lead only to the conclusion that the perpetrators of these new rules are evil or stupid or both.