According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA., methane emissions rank only behind carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas produced by human activities. However, that same source also admits that industries that produced methane have managed to decrease emissions by 8 percent in the years between 1990 and 2011, and emissions have fallen by another 3 percent between 2001 and 2014.
Why have companies like oil producers and large dairies reduced emissions? They do it partly because of governmental and public pressure, but according to experts quotes in the Daily Caller, they also control emissions because they are eagerly looking for ways to trap methane and sell it as a valuable commodity.
Incentives work very well. The government, however, has not been effective in a leadership role because of stalling tactics, the lack of a clear goal, political motivations, and a dreary vision for the future.
So, these are 14 things that the White House does or doesn’t do to help control methane:
14. Additional Environmental Protection Agency Regulations on Oil and Gas
The EPA gives a good overview of the significance of methane and other greenhouse gasses. Methane, or CH4, is the main ingredient in natural gas that can be used to produce power to heat homes and run diesel trucks. Your own home may already have a gas furnace, water heater, and stove.
Typically, gas appliances cost less to run than electric ones, and they are favored by many home owners and businesses. Many modern emergency generators also run on methane. As well as being a greenhouse gas, methane serves us every day as a critical source of power.
Howard Feldman is the head of scientific and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, and he was quoted in a recent article about voluntary gas trapping. Oil and gas producers already voluntarily invest in methods to trap this gas as a valuable byproduct that can be sold on the energy market, and that contributes to the fact that emissions have dropped over the last couple of decades.
They already have a built-in incentive to become more efficient and increase their profits. In fact, the oil and gas industry often gets pegged as the bad guy. In reality they have led the way in creating new technologies to help harness this resource.
Instead of investing time and money creating new regulations, the administration might invest in helping companies improve technology that can both trap more methane and make these efforts more profitable. Increased regulations could actually hurt the U.S. drive towards energy independence and eventually hurt the economy.
Increased incentives could go a lot further towards achieving everybody’s desirable goal of reducing emissions and producing cheap power. This way, we could reduce the harmful effects of greenhouse gasses on our climate and reap the potential rewards of cheaper energy.