The Obama administration released new limits on methane emissions from oil and gas wells that are even tougher than the industry expected - $530 million more per year than the already high costs. 25 percent more. The government, meanwhile, claims their new regulations will make money because this will stop storms, floods and other consequences of climate change. Yes, a government regulation on methane will change the weather.

It is going to stink for poor people. Consumers always pay the costs for government ideology, because virtual money never seems to match the claims of politicians, as seen recently with the Affordable Care Act cost overruns and all those solar panel companies we subsidized right into the ground. Compare how many people will die due to a warmer climate than will die every winter due to lack of heat because they can't afford fuel. It's orders of magnitude lower.

And when did methane become the big worry? Why?

Let's go back 10 years ago, when we had an Academy Award-winning film titled "An Inconvenient Truth", starring none other than former Vice-President Al Gore, the environmental candidate who previously gave us the ethanol that was going to drive petroleum out of existence. (1) Physicists at the time noted that if we were really concerned about warming, methane was more of a problem, because it had 23X the impact of CO2.

No, no, environmental groups assured us. CO2 sticks around forever and methane is gone rapidly. Which was true, even if an obvious deflection.

Yet then an odd thing happened. A wildcatter named George Mitchell had created a viable way to use hydraulic fracturing, which was tested with little economic success for 60 years, to get more fuel from what were considered played out wells. Finally, natural gas could be cheap and plentiful and replace dirty coal - it was just what environmentalists had raised money advocating for decades. Coal was doomed.

Instead, they turned on natural gas. 

Suddenly, we discovered it wasn't about getting rid of coal and CO2, it was really about having an activist army and needing to use it. The groups lined up against science and technology, such as Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Environmental Working Group, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and all the rest, need to drive donors into a panic to keep their $1,000,000,000 in annual revenue flowing. Want to make no money? Show the public the difference between a true health threat and an environmental health scare. Science and sanity are a terrible business model; corporations don't need to try and buy you off and the public is not mobilized to donate when the message is that fuel is cheap, no one has flaming tap water or asthma from fracking, and greenhouse gas emissions have plummeted.

Yet methane has replaced CO2 as the looming doomsday in all of those fundraising brochures because CO2 has been dropping...due to cleaner natural gas.

Now we get concerns that energy is 30 percent of methane emitted. Well so what? This really is a drop in the bucket, it is adding nothing at all to any kind of climate change. It is an environmental scare of the first order, the only expert environmentalists are able to trot out is a marine biologist who used old Soviet Union well leak data and then extrapolated it out to modern technology.

American wells are not leaking much for a very obvious reason; that is money lost.  Leakage is a negligible issue even more negligible now that the price is low and so every cubic foot lost means less money for the same cost. So why did the EPA abandon its own scientific findings and impose the even harsher limits lobbied for by environmentalists? There are three reasons:

1) Environmentalists increasingly work at EPA. Want to find a former Union of Concerned Scientists employee? Look at the Obama administration.

2) EPA officials are throwing parties for environmentalists, they are using secret email servers to send them regulations in advance for commentary, they are even letting environmentalists draft them under the President's name.

3) How many EPA officials have recused themselves from a decision because their friends at their former employer are doing the lobbying? Zero.


(1) He later admitted that he didn't really pay any attention to the science about ethanol, he just endorsed it because he knew he would need votes from Iowa in the 2000 Presidential election. It is refreshing that a politician who no longer has anything to run for can be honest.