A Real Methane Fee (Not)


I had hoped that EPA’s proposed methane Waste Emissions Charge, intended to implement a part of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act — and to complement the just-published oil and gas rules — would be a step in the right direction.

The new CH4 charge, after all, will amount to the first national fee imposed on the basis of the carbon content of any fossil fuel.

But as I went deep, recently, into the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draft rule, it became clear that the program will:

  • cover only a small fraction of oil and gas industry methane emissions,
  • yield emissions reductions that are only a small fraction of those covered emissions,
  • allow large-scale continuing and uncharged methane emissions from oil and gas facilities whether or not they are in compliance with newly-imposed rules and regulations,
  • fail to incentivize owners of WEC compliant facilities to further their methane emissions, and
  • do little to nothing to incentivize a slow-down or phaseout in the production of oil and gas.

Congress is most at fault for its weak design, but EPA could substantially improve on these so-called “best practices” in its implementation of the nascent WEC program – as I noted in our comment letter filed yesterday (below).

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