Barack Obama, Climate change, GOPocrisy, Obama, Republican-Fail — May 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Obama administration takes another step toward slowing climate change – tougher regulations for methane emissions


As LOLGOP has been telling us for years (like HERE), President Obama has created a green energy revolution that is unparalleled in American history. Not only that, his administration has done more to curtail the emissions of greenhouse gases than anyone before him.

Earlier this month, his administration took a huge step forward in limiting greenhouse gas emissions when they passed new regulations on the emissions of methane from the oil and gas industry:

In a move to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency on May 12 issued its first-ever regulations to reduce methane releases by the oil and natural gas sector.

The new regulations apply to new, modified, and reconstructed oil and gas operations. Similar rules for millions of existing oil and gas drilling and production facilities are on hold as the agency collects additional information.

Under the new rules, operations are expected to capture some 460,000 metric tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by 2025, EPA says. The benefits to the climate will be worth $690 million in 2025, the agency claims, and will outweigh the regulations’ costs of $530 million. In addition, the regulations will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds, which are precursors to ground-level ozone or smog, and toxic air pollutants, EPA adds.

In addition to natural gas operations, the Obama EPA rules cover hydraulically fractured oil wells that hold large amounts of natural gas—which is mainly methane—along with oil. The regulations require these operations to phase in technologies to capture methane.

This is a critical move because methane is twenty-one times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to the warming of the earth.

Much of the emission of methane comes from leaks in the equipment and systems used to extract and store methane by the oil and gas industry. These new regulations will help with that and include a mandatory study of existing installations for more potential regulations:

The final rules will also increase how often companies must check and repair leaks at compressor stations, as well as get rid of a proposed provision that allowed companies to reduce the frequency of inspections at well sites if prior leak checks turned out clean.

“The exclusion and step-down are important because the field studies that have been done show that leaks and equipment malfunctions and the like are a significant source of emissions, but not a predictable source,” said Mark Brownstein, vice president of the climate and energy program at the Environmental Defense Fund. “Emission events can happen pretty much anywhere at any time, and that argues for regular inspection programs.”

EPA today is also taking a significant step in regulating methane emissions from existing sources in the industry with the release of a two-part proposed information-collection request for oil and gas companies.

The first part would require 22,000 owners and operators of existing equipment to submit basic information about their facilities within 30 days after the information-collection request is finalized, Brownstein said. The second part, which would be due within 120 days, focuses on a smaller subset of owners and seeks information about control technologies, costs and emissions.

Taken together, the rules are a key part of the Obama administration’s pledge to lower U.S. methane emissions from the oil and gas industry between 40 and 45 percent by 2025 compared with 2012 levels.

The oil and gas industry and their bought-and-paid for members of Congress are, of course, livid. American Petroleum Institute Vice President of Regulatory and Economic Policy, Kyle Isakower, issued a statement claiming that the industry is already reducing emissions and that these new regulations will somehow make that harder:

“The industry is already leading the way on methane reductions because it is good for the environment and good for business,” Isakower said. “Even as oil and natural gas production has risen dramatically, methane emissions have fallen, thanks to industry leadership and investment in new technologies.”

“It doesn’t make sense that the administration would add unreasonable and overly burdensome regulations when the industry is already leading the way in reducing emissions. Imposing a one size fits all scheme on the industry could actually stifle innovation and discourage investments in new technologies that could serve to further reduce emissions.”

“Natural gas is a proven source of clean, affordable, and reliable energy. The development and use of natural gas from shale has helped the US lead the world in cutting power sector carbon emissions, which are near 20 year lows. The last thing we need is more duplicative and costly regulation that could discourage natural gas production, disrupt our progress reducing emissions, and increase the cost of energy for American consumers.

This is, of course, nonsense. These regulations are sound policy and represent a bold step forward in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that lead toward climate change.

Big Energy’s shills in the House and Senate went on the attack, too. Professional climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma says President Obama is waging a “war on fossil fuels”. He, too, points to the reduction in methane emissions as evidence that more regulation is not needed.

Non-scientist Louisiana Senator David Vitter questioned the science behind the EPA’s move saying in a letter to President Obama, “Given that so many of our communities are being impacted by current market conditions, any new regulations impacting oil and natural gas should be based on reliable, transparent data that is devoid of any political considerations. At this point, we remain deeply skeptical that EPA’s revisions to its methane emissions data meet those criteria.”

Non-scientist Lamar Smith, the Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, made this bizarre statement:

EPA’s new methane regulation is just the first step toward an expansive agency agenda to further regulate the oil and gas sector. No industrial sector has done more to drastically reduce methane emissions through voluntary and other measures. This rule is a desperate attempt to shift attention from the fact that the cornerstone of the administration’s Climate Action Plan will fail to meet the promised targets recently signed at the United Nations.

Make no mistake: the oil and gas industry does very little without being forced to do so by law. The idea that this move will somehow stop the industry from reducing emission is ludicrous on its face.

This is just one more step being taken by our president and his administration to address climate change, making it another element of his legacy.

Thanks, Obama.