Burning Ambitions

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

burning_coalLast week stirred memories of a long-ago exchange with a co-worker who regarded himself as an environmentally sensitive sort but couldn’t process the idea that a major goal of federal regulation is to eliminate all forms of energy production involving combustion.

But with the U.S. shifting toward natural gas-fueled electric generation—coerced by Environmental Protection Agency rules rendering coal economically non-viable—the EPA now moves to sabotage the economic advantages of gas.

The agency has been weaving its twisted path to a natural gas crackdown for years, suggesting a need for new regulation of hydraulic fracturing, dismissing the need, then reversing itself right after last summer’s roll-out of the Clean Power Plan that’s designed to finally kill off coal.

Now, at the end of February, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy turned up at an industry conference in Houston to say—who could have seen this coming?—methane emissions from oil and gas production are even worse than we thought!

Invariably when the EPA makes noises about some new problem, it’s wise to compare past performance with present reality. “If anyone thinks we’re done on climate, think again, guys,” McCarthy told her Houston audience. But a week before that performance, former EPA Assistant Administrator Winston Porter wrote in The Wall Street Journal that amid the tsunami of rising oil and gas production since 2005, methane emissions have fallen 79 percent.

Porter also noted a 94 percent reduction in the number of gas pipeline leaks over the past 30 years. So the EPA now grasps for a pretext to make natural gas, like coal, too expensive to use.

Negative talk about biomass generation has also begun; for now, it’s too small a target to warrant a full regulatory assault, but watch. The ideological goal is to make Americans depend on prehistoric energy sources like wind and sunshine.

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