What Congress is doing about EPA’s heavy-handed methane regulations

Last week, the House Science Committee Environment Subcommittee held a hearing regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s new methane regulations. The hearing highlighted the dangers of these regulations and the Administration’s continuing attacks on domestic natural gas and oil production.

The EPA finalized new source performance standards for methane emissions earlier this spring. Unsurprisingly, the rule has a hefty price tag. EPA pegged the cost at $530 million in 2025 (using a 7 percent discount rate). The American Petroleum Institute explains that this rule could costs motorists $550 in higher gasoline costs over the course of a year and cost the average family an additional $1,337 in disposable income.

While the natural gas and oil sector has been reducing methane emissions for years, the Independent Petroleum Association of America explains that “parts of the EPA’s final rules appear to remove flexibilities for producers and could actually undermine industry’s progress” in lowering methane emissions on their own. The National Association of Manufacturers also stated that the methane rule would jeopardize access to reliable energy for businesses across the economy.

Congress seems to have gotten the message. The Subcommittee hearing focused on the intense burdens the rule would place not only on the energy industry, but ultimately on American families.

Most central to the debate surrounding the methane rule is just how little it will actually do for the environment. In reality, oil and gas production has increased 26 percent since 2005, while methane emissions from such production has decreased 38 percent. The energy sector has already made strides in reducing methane emissions on its own and will continue to do so. That’s because methane is the largest component of natural gas, and allowing methane to escape results in a lost profit opportunity. Further regulation is not only unwarranted and unnecessary, but economically damaging.

Congress has taken some strides in combatting this harmful regulation. In addition to the hearing, Rep. Jenkins introduced H.R. 5668, the Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act. This bill would prohibit agencies from using the so-called social cost of methane metric, a scientifically dubious and arbitrary metric that the EPA used to justify its methane rule. Congress should also look to introduce a Congressional Review Act bill, similar to what they did with the Waters of the United States rule.

While progress has been made in fighting the methane rule at the Congressional level, more should be done. Congress should continue to oppose the rule and fight to keep energy affordable, reliable, and accessible.

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