The EPA’s next regulatory frontier: Methane emissions

posted at 12:41 pm on March 31, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The progressives’ wealthy eco-contingent has been growing increasingly displeased with the Obama administration and their relatively mild efforts to temper global warming via executive action revealed in their Climate Action Plan announced last summer — namely, the administration’s refusal to more quickly squelch the fossil-fuel industry and more rapidly bring about those “necessarily skyrocketing” energy prices about which President Obama once spoke so dreamily.

Ergo, on Friday, the Obama administration announced a new set of regulatory measures to target the greens’ latest pet peeve: Methane emissions. They have recently turned to methane emissions especially as a bludgeon with which to hammer the shale oil-and-gas boom, claiming that methane’s status as an especially potent greenhouse gas (about 20 times the warming effects as carbon dioxide over time, they say) actually cancels out the lower carbon-emitting benefits we’ve been recording from our lately increased natural gas usage. The EPA is therefore promising to start working on a new set of measures to curb methane emissions from the energy industry, the agricultural sector, and more — although they’ll evidently be mostly voluntary, and some of the hardcore greens are a little disappointed.

The White House estimated on Friday that the administration-wide strategy could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90 million metric tons in 2020. Some elements of the plan could affect coal mines and landfills. …

Friday’s news drew applause from the Environmental Defense Fund, which has partnered with industry to slash methane emissions in the states.

“This announcement is the most recent development in a year where both the impacts and solutions from methane emissions have come into clearer focus, creating new momentum for action,” EDF President Fred Krupp said in a statement. “Methane pollution is an intense contributor to global climate change, and the White House methane strategy is a smart road map for taking on the biggest sources of emissions, including natural gas leaks from the oil and gas sector.”

But while more liberal green groups like the Sierra Club called the strategy an “important step,” they also raised some red flags about the administration’s commitment to natural gas development.

“[E]ven with the most rigorous methane controls and monitoring in place, we will still fall short of what is needed to fight climate disruption if we do not reduce our reliance on these dirty fossil fuels,” said Deborah Nardone, campaign director of the Sierra Club’s Keeping Dirty Fuels in the Ground program.

The oil-and-gas industry doesn’t even do most of the methane emitting in this country — belches from livestock herds are currently the number-one culprit, as an EPA study recently found — and the oil-and-gas industry in particular has even recently done some major innovation toward more sophisticated equipment that is increasingly succeeding at capturing methane leaks. I can’t help feeling that this is just another lame, feel-good effort by the Obama administration to look like its Doing Something on climate change and appease the greens by hindering the energy industry and taking credit for advancements on a problem it is already bettering on its own.


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Won’t that make it tougher for the democrats to spew their BS?

Flange on March 31, 2014 at 12:49 PM

…we will be fined…if we PHART!

KOOLAID2 on March 31, 2014 at 12:50 PM

No one is taking my bum clouds away from me!

sharrukin on March 31, 2014 at 12:51 PM

belches from livestock herds are currently the number-one culprit, as an EPA study recently found

I had a book of Isaac Asimov essays — probably from the 1960s. One of them contemplated how much bovine flatulence was contributing to global warming. He was also a secular humanist.

So the left is just recycling old ideas.

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 12:52 PM

…they will find a way to tax …each stool we plop…they’ll have a counter at our anal openings…diarrhea will be a flat rate!

KOOLAID2 on March 31, 2014 at 12:53 PM

So Noah says only the animals are worth saving, and the EPA says cattle are the cause of everything that’s wrong in the world. I’m so confused!

UnderstandingisPower on March 31, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Biggest collection of Fu*king Idiots to ever run our Government.

Congratulations Leftists, you got your people in power….

..please come on here, and defend their Stupidity, Incompetence,
Blind arrogance, and all round Delusional Nutbaggery.

ToddPA on March 31, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Can’t exhale, can’t fart. Obviously they want everybody to explode.

ZenDraken on March 31, 2014 at 12:56 PM

You’ve got to be a real fart smeller to snick your nose in that business.

Flange on March 31, 2014 at 12:57 PM

The oil-and-gas industry doesn’t even do most of the methane emitting in this country — belches from livestock herds are currently the number-one culprit

Moochelle hardest hit; requests personal exemption.

dominigan on March 31, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Moochelle hardest hit; requests personal exemption.

dominigan on March 31, 2014 at 12:59 PM

THREAD WINNER.

ToddPA on March 31, 2014 at 1:01 PM

The White House estimated on Friday…

Funny. Speaking of methane, the WH is Friday-Dumping on the ‘eco-contingent’.

Tsar of Earth on March 31, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Wonder how these brilliant scientist types plan on regulating the methane
Gas that is being released by Mother Earth ?

A sternly-worded letter promising to make sure that extensive measures
Will be put in place if She doesn’t stop?

Hollywood can’t make this stuff up.

Tenwheeler on March 31, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Who run Bartertown?

JetBoy on March 31, 2014 at 1:05 PM

To quote Jerry Leadbetter in Good Neighbors:

“Me-thane? You’re in-thane!”

Ward Cleaver on March 31, 2014 at 1:09 PM

belches from livestock herds are currently the number-one culprit, as an EPA study recently found

According to the bleeding hearts America was far more ecologically correct when the plains were covered with 30 million (or more) buffalo. For those who are unaware, buffalo and cows are kissing cousins and can and do inter BREED.

Point number two; do the greeny vegans understand that vegetables produce far more gas than bacon does? Or hamburgers? Or steak?

oldernwiser on March 31, 2014 at 1:11 PM

And stopping fracking to save prairie chickens…

workingclass artist on March 31, 2014 at 1:13 PM

So a change in diet for herds of unicorns to make them less gassy?

Happy Nomad on March 31, 2014 at 1:20 PM

We must have a Manhattan-Project to develop effective phart-philters.

Another Drew on March 31, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Of course a ‘methane-precursor’ tax will be soon sought on all sales of beans, cabbage and bran to assist in efforts to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of unregulated farting.

otlset on March 31, 2014 at 1:28 PM

King Canute infamously once commanded the tide to not come in. Over the years, I have, with a ever growing sense of despondency, read comments and articles where the writer points to King Canute’s infamous act, and proudly and ignorantly proclaims it one of the worlds most significant acts arrogant narcissism.

The truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. When King Canute commanded the tides to not come in, he was in fact not acting stupidly or arrogantly, but in fact whacking his subjects right square between the eyes with a Clue-by-Four. He was telling his subjects in absolutely no uncertain terms, that despite his being the most powerful reigning Monarch of his day, that their were actually limits to his authority.

Barack Obama will pretty much without doubt take King Canute’s place in history as the man who issued the most insanely stupid, arrogant and narcissistic proclamations in history. Unlike King Canute, whose purpose in ordering the tide to not come in was to demonstrate that even he had limitation, Barack Obama genuinely believes that he can order a reduction in cow flatulence.

oscarwilde on March 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

The progressives’ wealthy eco-contingent has been growing increasingly displeased with the Obama administration and their relatively mild efforts to temper global warming via executive action revealed in their Climate Action Plan announced last summer — namely, the administration’s refusal to more quickly squelch the fossil-fuel industry and more rapidly bring about those “necessarily skyrocketing” energy prices about which President Obama once spoke so dreamily.

63 words!

Akzed on March 31, 2014 at 1:33 PM

How about water vapor? That is a nasty greenhouse gas.

And we just got oceans of the stuff that need to be cleared out…

ajacksonian on March 31, 2014 at 1:33 PM

This will be like stormwater, i.e. rain. We will be taxed based on our assumed contribution to the methane “problem”. This has endless possibilities. The more you weigh, the more you pay.

newpine on March 31, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Another tentacle crushing the heart blood of America’s prosperity-oil. They seek only to destroy our economic success and bring us down, that failed socialism and the nanny-state can rule.

That such self-loving people could ever give a hoot about a innocuous thing such as the climate lacks credulity.

Don L on March 31, 2014 at 1:43 PM

This crap is just being recycled from the old Agricultural emissions research levy that New Zealand tried to implement back in 2003.

It was known better by its popular name, the Fart Tax.

Of course, the Fart Tax was being pushed by the Labour Party (NZ’s version of Democraps)…

Wanderlust on March 31, 2014 at 1:45 PM

The very idea that eco-worship is a separate wing putting pressure on Obama is laughable. It is but another jack-boot of the same organized socialist centipede, regardless of either its noble sounding titles, or the robotic passions of its Zombie-like followers.

Don L on March 31, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Hope the EPA is not metering our neighborhood after a pizza/beer party.

Fact: The dinosaurs died out because their farts ignited climate warming to the point the whole place exploded.

PattyJ on March 31, 2014 at 1:50 PM

The White House estimated on Friday that the administration-wide strategy could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90 million metric tons in 2020. Some elements of the plan could affect coal mines and landfills. …

Ninety million metric tons per year of methane sounds like a lot, but over the scale of the entire atmosphere, it comes out to 0.031 parts per million (ppm) per year, whereas methane concentrations in the atmosphere have stabilized at about 1.7 ppm.

Although methane is not naturally consumed as CO2 is (by photosynthesis), methane has NOT been accumulating in the atmosphere in recent years. Methane has a molecular weight of only 16 (as compared to 28 for nitrogen, 32 for oxygen, and 44 for carbon dioxide). The molecular speed of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of molecular weight, so that methane molecules travel faster than heavier nitrogen and oxygen molecules, rise through the atmosphere, and eventually escape the Earth’s gravity. So methane emissions are essentially a non-problem, since methane escapes from the atmosphere as fast as it is emitted!

This principle is also illustrated by other gases in the Earth’s atmosphere: helium (molecular weight = 4) is generated by radioactivity, but escapes the Earth’s atmosphere, while argon (MW=40) is nearly 1% of our atmosphere. Mars, whose gravity is much weaker than that of Earth, cannot retain nitrogen and oxygen, but can hold low concentrations of carbon dioxide. Jupiter, whose gravity is much stronger than that of Earth, has a very thick atmosphere full of methane.

Steve Z on March 31, 2014 at 2:04 PM

New York Times: Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come

Do you thin this was meant as a double entendre ?

J_Crater on March 31, 2014 at 2:21 PM

The molecular speed of a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of molecular weight, so that methane molecules travel faster than heavier nitrogen and oxygen molecules, rise through the atmosphere, and eventually escape the Earth’s gravity. So methane emissions are essentially a non-problem, since methane escapes from the atmosphere as fast as it is emitted!

So Earth is essentially doing the same thing in our solar system as the guy who walks down the hallway dropping SBDs?

OH….sorry….just had an un-regulated methane release.

BobMbx on March 31, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Geez. Can someone just shut off all these regressive, Gaia humpin’, tree huggin’, “green terror” d-bag’s utilities?!?

Let them live the way the want. More importantly, let them prove to us that they can live the way they want.

Until then – no gas, coal, nuke, oil, propane, wood, hydro, or any other fossil fuel they need for their homes, cars, jets, yachts, guest houses, maids quarters, sexual devices, etc.
This additionally includes any materials that they wear or consume which requires the need of fossil fuels to produce.

StubbornGreenBurros on March 31, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Barack Obama genuinely believes that he can order a reduction in cow flatulence.

oscarwilde on March 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

You take the initiative at face value. Always mistake when dealing with communists.

He doesn’t care about farts. He wants to turn farting into a revenue stream for the government. And thats all.

BobMbx on March 31, 2014 at 2:29 PM

I knew someone some time is going to start regulating farts – methane gas emitter. I expect to see the fart tax soon. So the question is – is there going to be a tax on foods that cause farts – like Mexican beans?

kpm01428 on March 31, 2014 at 2:33 PM

oscarwilde on March 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

You take the initiative at face value. Always mistake when dealing with communists.

He doesn’t care about farts. He wants to turn farting into a revenue stream for the government. And thats all.

BobMbx on March 31, 2014 at 2:29 PM

No my friend, it is you who are taking a simplistic view, this isn’t about creating anything as simple or innocuous as a revenue stream. How do you reduce bovine flatulence? By reducing the number of cattle. Cut off the water to the most productive agricultural acreage in America, reduce the amount of livestock. What are you doing by doing this?

You are repeating Joesph Stalin’s strategic depopulation of the Caucuses.

oscarwilde on March 31, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Let’s organize a fart-in around their HQ. And picket them with signs thatr read I FART In Your General Direction.

It might not make a difference, but how many things feel better than a good … oh, well.

njcommuter on March 31, 2014 at 2:46 PM

the methane emissions that the EPA cites is from natural gas processing (NGL extraction & desulfurization) and compressor stations as leaks from packing & mechanical seals in valves & rotating equipment rather than from wells and pipelines. It is NOT from wells themselves.

Kermit on March 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM

My prediction: Say hello to the cowalytic converter! Or, Obama, our emperor gluteus maximus, in his regime’s tail-end, will butt in with another bum solution. In an assinine attempt to sweeten the dairy-air, a bossy rear-admiral will be given the tooshie job. He will issue stern warnings, his program will be nether-ending, and udder failure will result–leaving us the world’s new laughingstock.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

My prediction: Say hello to the cowalytic converter! Or, Obama, our emperor gluteus maximus, in his regime’s tail-end, will butt in with another bum solution. In an assinine attempt to sweeten the dairy-air, a bossy rear-admiral will be given the tooshie job. He will issue stern warnings, his program will be nether-ending, and udder failure will result–leaving us the world’s new laughingstock.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Wow Doc, that has to be the most double entendres I’ve ever seen in a single paragraph.

oscarwilde on March 31, 2014 at 3:23 PM

You’re all missing the point of the whole “cow f4rt” flap.

The only way to reduce bovine methane emissions is to reduce the number of cows.

If EPA can put strict controls on how, where, and in what numbers cattle can be raised, it goes a long way toward the deep-eco dream of forcing everyone else to “go Vegen”. Say goodbye to beef and dairy products, as they become both scarcer and more expensive. And, eventually, unavailable, as the population of breeding cattle drops below the replacement threshold.

I think you’ll find this idea originated with PETA and, probably, ALF.

BTW, depriving humans of animal protein, especially in childhood, cause problems with higher cognitive functions. Simply put, it affects the ability of neural synapses in the brain to process acetylcholine fully. The result is that people tend to be listless, and easily controlled.

I have ceased to believe in “coincidence” with these f**kers. The laws of probability state that by purely random chance, at some point they’d have to do something beneficial to humanity, unless their intent was to do the opposite at all times, and their actions followed that intent.

I’d say the evidence rather conclusively shows that to be the case.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 31, 2014 at 4:06 PM

My prediction: Say hello to the cowalytic converter!

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 31, 2014 at 3:04 PM

I’ve had one response to bovine flatulence methane concerns for several years now.

Thank goodness we had Buffalo Bill when we did, or those buffalo would have boiled us all out of existence.

Thankfully we had people to slaughter most of the herds; Buffalo Bill was truly one of the great environmentalists.

Sadly the environmental groups I’ve been in contact with aren’t interested in any statues, shrines or plaques to the man who made our current way of life possible by avoiding 150+ years of horrific global warming.

I tell you, you slaughter millions upon millions of buffalo to preserve life on earth and they’re still not happy with you.

gekkobear on March 31, 2014 at 4:15 PM

What do you call 10,000 EPA employees on a freighter to China?

Progress.

What is needed for growth even more than repealing ObamaCare and cleaning up the mess it’s left is deregulation. We need a leader with the courage to insist on sunset laws on ALL regulations so they expire and cannot be renewed without reviews including public input, and to clean up the existing registry.

Also, the determination to fire everyone at EPA and IRS and start over from scratch would be a huge help.

Adjoran on March 31, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Just got back from a day of really, really enjoying myself. I went to the local Mexican eatery, had a double shot of tacos, then went for an extended visit to the local office of the DNC. They never did discover where the emissions came from, as they were too busy lighting matches…

vnvet on March 31, 2014 at 4:38 PM

“…belches from livestock herds are currently the number-one culprit…”

And marsh gas. Methane is a major component of marsh gas. Maybe we should be draining wetlands instead of preserving them.

joated on March 31, 2014 at 5:08 PM

75 cubic miles of water vapor from the sunlight being generated … daily by solar energy warming the surface waters of this planet.
Ponder that level of power for a moment.

Methane is a very efficient molecule in absorbing solar energy. Perhaps the best but it is a trivial componenet of our atmosphere.
However, H2O (i.e WATER, in atmospheric vapor form) tops the list of (so called) Green House gasses.

Wonder if the EPA/UN will propose a tax that they will impose so that they can MODERATE the SUN?

Stupid phucking Americans. Just monumentally STUPID.

Missilengr on March 31, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Methane.

It’s what you had for dinner

Sherman1864 on March 31, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Water vapor is a far more powerful “greenhouse gas” than either CO2 or methane. Will they come after our hot showers next?

Colony14 on April 1, 2014 at 7:51 PM