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Editorial: Obama administration methane rules will drive up costs and make U.S. more dependent on imported oil

Tulsa World Editorial Board

Cleaning up our air and Earth are important to everyone. But punishing the energy industry unnecessarily in the process is bad business.

The Obama administration has proposed new Environmental Protection Agency guidelines that would cut methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas production by nearly half over the next decade.

Methane, a key component of natural gas, is a minor, if potent portion, of greenhouse gas emissions.

The new regulations, which are expected to cut methane from drilling by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2025, would only effect new and modified oil and gas wells. Still, the proposed rule could cost the industry energy from $320 million to $420 million in 2025. That, of course, translates into higher fuel costs to consumers, another hit to an already reeling petroleum industry and a blow to our national energy independence. Proponents claim the move would save as much as $550 million in health costs, but as with previous “green” EPA regulations the costs are inevitable and the savings are hypothetical.

We, along with Sen. Jim Inhofe, question the need for such regulations. “The oil and gas industry has proven success in reducing methane emissions on their own, even while increasing production levels significantly,” Inhofe said.

As much as we and everyone want a cleaner environment, oil and gas fields in other countries, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, will continue to release unwanted natural gas into the air. Until everyone is on board with curtailing methane emissions, we’re spitting into the wind and creating an economic marketplace that assures our continued reliance on imported oil.

The methane proposals are unnecessary, costly, punitive and damaging to our national interests.