Big Green Hype on Methane

A new line of anti-shale gas rhetoric has emerged from the professional environmentalists in recent months. As other scare tactics have lost their strength, these activists have moved on to methane emissions as the latest threat to humanity.

Stephen Moore writes in The Washington Times that this "methane scare" being pushed by "Big Green" is due to the fact that "almost all of the major air pollutants have declined markedly over the last several decades, so environmental groups need to invent new scare tactics to fill up their coffers. The emissions of lead, sulfur and smog have all fallen by at least half since 1970. The air in major American cities such as Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago are as clean as they've been in many decades. Big Green is running out of things to complain about."

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is giving credibility to this scare tactic. The EPA recently "announced major new regulations on the emissions of methane into the air from oil and gas production. It calls methane a ‘potent’ pollutant and its new rules would require a 45 percent reduction by 2025 from 2012 levels."

The eagerness to force onerous new regulations on the shale energy industry is an unfortunate example of a radical ideology in practice. While methane is a greenhouse gas, the "amount of leakage into the atmosphere is minuscule" according to Dan Kish of the Energy Research Institute. Kish explains that "cows emit more methane when they pass gas than the natural gas industry." Contrast that with the fact that expanded natural gas usage has helped bring American greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest levels in decades. 

Last year Reuters reported that "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10 percent from 2005 to 2012, more than halfway toward the United States' 2020 target pledged at United Nations climate talks…The report showed that emissions dropped 3.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, mostly due to a decrease in energy consumption and fuel switching from coal to natural gas." Moore observes that the "hidden agenda here is to restrict shale oil and gas drilling, and fracking" and notes that "this anti-fracking obsession is strange because even EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged that natural gas is a clean substitute for coal and thus lowers greenhouse gases." The foolish "regulatory assault on methane natural gas...will harm the environment, not save it."

Far from being a climate menace, the natural gas industry is one of the most effective tools for achieving immediate greenhouse gas reductions that environmentalists demand. We need to make sure that our policymakers understand the environmental benefits of this clean and green American energy resource! 

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