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Heartland Institute Experts Comment on EPA’s Methane Rule

May 12, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency today released its new standards to cut methane emissions from both new and existing sources in the oil and gas sector.

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The Environmental Protection Agency today released its new standards to cut methane emissions from both new and existing sources in the oil and gas sector. This is part of President Barack Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” and aims to cut methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

The following statements from environment and energy policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“The Obama administration seems hell-bent on enacting as many anti-energy regulations as possible before the end of the president’s term, and these methane rules are another straw piled onto the camel’s back.

“Again, the Environmental Protection Agency has used its now-commonplace tactic of greatly underestimating the costs of these regulations and greatly exaggerating the benefits. Methane emissions from natural gas development have fallen nearly 15 percent since 1990, despite the fact the United States increased natural gas production by more than 50 percent during this period and became the largest producer of natural gas in the world.

“Additionally, the so-called benefits of this rule are non-existent because the amount of potential global warming offset by these new rules is 0.0004 degrees C, an amount too small to have any meaningful impact on global temperatures.

“This is simply a case of the president taking one last whack at the oil and gas piñata on his way out the door.”

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute

“Nothing good comes from these new rules, which are unnecessary and counterproductive – unless the true aim is not to protect human health, but rather 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 vast majority of methane emissions, not natural gas production or transport. Despite a tremendous increase in natural gas production since 1990 due to the fracking revolution, methane emissions in the U.S. have fallen. That’s because natural gas producers and pipeline operators already have a financial incentive to capture every bit of it they can and not lose it to leaks. As a result, less than one-and-a-half percent of all natural gas produced, is lost.

“The only result of these rules will be to inhibit future natural gas operations by increasing the regulatory costs of operations. The rules will increase the costs of exploring, producing, and delivering natural gas, resulting in higher prices for consumers, reducing the nation’s energy security, and undermining an expanding bright spot in foreign trade. Finally, if natural gas prices rise due to these rules, developing countries will turn to coal to power their electric plants instead of building liquefied natural gas import terminals to access U.S. gas. That result should leave climate alarmists even more alarmed, because it will mean a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“EPA’s plan to reduce methane emissions can have only one purpose, which will surely be achieved – namely to injure the economics of every industry that emits methane. It cannot possibly have any impact whatsoever on public health, environmental health, and most surely the temperature of our planet, today, tomorrow or 100 years from now. It is a minor, though effective, greenhouse gas in the tiniest of ways, but its reduction in any number of industries will be costly to the nation’s economy, which is most assuredly the intent of our current administration and its Environmental Protection Agency.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute

“Methane emissions keep falling while natural gas and oil production keeps increasing, but EPA never met a burdensome regulation it didn’t love, so here we are. Too bad we can’t get a regulation that would cut down on the hot air emissions spewing from EPA by 45 percent by 2025.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

“This is just step one in the administration’s six-month plan to meet President Obama’s ‘obligations’ from the Paris climate agreement. We can look forward to many more changes to the standards and regulations of the oil and gas sector – but let us not forget that agriculture is next. As Brent Newell, legal director for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment said: ‘Decarbonizing what we eat is just as important as decarbonizing what we drive or what we use to heat our homes.’”

Bette Grande 
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“Canada and other oil and gas producing countries that follow U.S. environmental policy should be very concerned with the EPA’s announcement that significant methane reductions will be mandated under the Clean Power Plan. Driven by environmental extremists in his base and within the EPA itself, President Obama is now making it clear that, in the name of ‘stopping climate change,’ his war on coal is expanding to damage other conventional power sources as well. Taking advantage of the reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), it’s time natural gas and oil producers banded together with coal to fight the climate scare threatening them all.”

Tom Harris
Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition
Ottawa, Canada
Policy Advisor, Energy and Environment
The Heartland Institute

“The EPA’s action on methane reveals its propensity to punish our industries and protect outside competition from Russia, Iran, etc. They admit a cost of $530 million by 2025 with an alleged benefit of $690 million. But there is no benefit because this tiny amount of greenhouse gas emissions has no affect on global warming, and the costs are likely to be considerably higher than estimated. Small oil and gas producers may be driven out of business due to excess regulations.

“The standards are supposed to eliminate the equivalent of 12 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2015. China alone will contribute 12 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2025, which renders any contribution of our oil and gas industry irrelevant. It is comical for the EPA to claim its rule reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while the EPA is promoting the use of ethanol in cars through is control of the Renewable Fuel Standards.

“The country is in an economic malaise due to over-regulation of our energy industry, and this is a sorry addition to that mess.”

James H. Rust
Professor of nuclear engineering (Ret.), Georgia Tech
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 32-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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Isaac Orr is a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment on mining and energy issues and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute. @thefrackingguy
Jay Lehr is an internationally renowned speaker, scientist, Senior Policy Advisor with the International Climate Science Coalition and Senior Science Analyst at CFACT.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department. @HeartlandGR
Bette Grande is a State Government Relations Manager at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district. @BetteGrande
Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (ret.), Climate Change and Energy