EPA’s rules on methane emissions would be a drag on economy

The EPA has proposed rules to require shale gas drillers to reduce leaked methane more than drillers have already accomplished.

8/21 – Mark Mills at Forbes – EPA’s Methane Policy: Statistically Trivial For The Planet and Terrible For The Economy – The EPA’s rules, if burdened on the economy, would be trivial in terms of reducing greenhouse gases. Methane is natural gas. Article emphasizes the natural part – there are a huge number of sources of methane occurring naturally. Cows, termites, landfills, wetlands, and agriculture all produce massive amounts of methane. Teenage and adult human males have even been known to produce some.

Article points out that the natural gas producers have reduced the emissions by more than 40% in the last decade. That makes sense, since the purpose of drilling for natural gas is to capture natural gas in order to sell it.

Without the boom from shale gas and shale oil in the last few years, Mr. Mills estimates the US economy would have been in recession for most of the quarters since the end of the Great Recession.

The rules will create lots of requirements, which directly cause lots of costs, which has the increased risk of expensive ‘enforcement’ for technical or nonexistent violations.

Article points out that in addition to slowing the economy overall, the rules would raise prices of natural gas which would cause most harm to poor people. So if you actually wanted to hurt the poor, this would be your plan.

8/24 – WSJ – Political target: Natural Gas / The methane rule is part of a regulatory wave to raise drilling costs – Editorial says the war on coal has expanded to a war on natural gas and crude oil. The proposed rules would impose costly new restrictions on capturing methane. The goal, as suggested in the editorial, is to reduce the extreme price differential between solar & wind compared to natural gas. The proposed reductions in methane are on top of dramatic reduction in release of methane realized in the last few years.

Even Senator Heitcamp sees this as an attack on energy…

8/20 – Shale Plays Media at Bakken.com – Heitkamp: EPA methane rules harmful to Bakken, industry – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) denounced the EPA rules reducing methane gas emissions. She indicated that cutting methane emissions and increasing energy production are not competing goals. The Senator points out the energy industry has already reduced methane emissions dramatically in recent years (that is dramatic as in something on the order of a 79% reduction since 2005 according to the American Petroleum Institute.)

(40% or 79% reduction – I’m not going to drill down to see how each was calculated – both sources are exquisitely credible, which tells me there is different methodology in the different calculations)

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