By the phone and the pen.

We should once again offer a tip of the hat to Barack Obama for not going gently into that good night as a lame duck. He’s still in the batter’s box trying to build his legacy on climate change with a fresh raft of proposed EPA regulations, this time focused on methane emissions specific to oil and gas drilling sites. (Fox News)

The Obama administration is proposing to cut methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas production by nearly half over the next decade in an unprecedented step to curb climate change.

The administration’s target is to cut methane from oil and gas drilling by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. The move was not unexpected — officials set the same goal in a preliminary blueprint in January. Still, by moving forward with the official proposal, President Barack Obama is adding to a list of energy regulations that have drawn applause from environmentalists and ire from energy advocates.

This is going to go down in the books as one of the most curious moves ever taken by the Obama EPA, not because the reduction of methane emissions is a bad idea, but because it’s already been taking place in gangbuster fashion. The Institute for Energy Research put out a statement as soon as the new proposal was announced which put the question in context.

Since 2007, methane emissions fell by 35 percent from natural gas operations, while natural gas production increased by 22 percent. According to EPA, voluntary implementation of new technologies by the oil and natural gas industry is a major reason for the decline in emissions.”

And where is the IER getting these figures about reductions in emissions? Are they coming from some big oil loving, pro-drilling think tank? No. It’s data taken from the EPA’s own studies which were cited in generating these rules. But just in case any of them don’t read their own promotional material, here are the numbers in graph form.

Methane

As you can see, production has been going up dramatically but methane emissions are down. In fact, they are way down. Why do you suppose that it? Is it because the companies doing the drilling want some warm and fuzzy feelings from the environmentalists and hope to snag some big donations from Greenpeace? Sadly… no. To put this in perspective, the folks from the EPA might want to step back and remember precisely what methane is.

Natural gas can be found by itself or in association with oil. It is both colourless and odourless and is in fact a mixture of hydrocarbons. While mainly methane, the other hydrocarbons include ethane, propane, and butane.

The methane in the ground is the primary component in natural gas. We’re drilling for natural gas. Any methane that escapes the well is literally money floating away into the air. It’s a bad business model. Believe me, if the drilling companies can get the methane emission levels down to zero (and they are trying their level best) they’re going to do it and it won’t be to make the EPA happy. They want the money. I’m not sure how to put that any more simply.

But if the EPA wants to do it on their schedule, they’ll basically just be punishing energy companies for not finding a way to do it faster when they are already well on the way to a solution. Energy In Depth spokeswoman Katie Brown explains:

“EPA’s own data show that methane emissions from fracking are already rapidly declining as production has skyrocketed. Further, even the IPCC acknowledges that cheap natural gas has delivered substantial climate benefits, benefits that came largely from voluntary reductions by industry and technological innovation. Federal regulations, especially if crafted poorly, could inflict more pain on the men and women who work in the oil and gas industry — at a time when market forces are already creating economic challenges.”

The EPA under Barack Obama continues to try to kill one of the few remaining geese that’s laying golden eggs. And this time they’re shooting at a moving target that the industry already has in their sights. Brilliance like this cannot be allowed to pass without a salute because The Idiocracy is truly upon us.