Last week, the Obama administration heard from large environmental groups about the need to directly regulate emissions of methane –– a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas. The Obama administration has not been listening, as evidenced two days later when it dropped its Fall 2014 Statements of Regulatory Priorities for this fiscal year. The administration’s shortcoming does not surprise us, but from our perspective, the prospect of methane regulations makes for a Trojan horse.
Consider that the oil and gas industry, backed by billions in investments from Wall Street and abroad, needs natural gas to be seen as more of a climate solution than a climate problem. These interests expect to profit from widespread and intensive drilling and fracking for decades.
Not only the industry, but the Obama Administration have both painted natural gas as a “climate friendly” alternative fuel. Given the reality of the climate threat, however, fracking for natural gas is proving to be more of a “gangplank” to climate chaos than a clean “bridge fuel” to the future. Methane emissions are a large part of the reason why, but significant carbon dioxide emissions also stem from burning natural gas. Just looking at carbon dioxide alone, there’s way too much gas; almost all of it has to stay underground, just like the oil.