South Carolina knows barbecue. Whether we go whole hog or just shoulder, use mustard sauce or vinegar, barbecue is more art than hobby. Debates about sauce can get pretty heated, and too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the meat.
Too many cooks is the problem with methane regulations up for a repeal vote in the U.S. Senate. Washington bureaucrats say this new rule, finalized by the federal Bureau of Land Management as President Obama was leaving office, will reduce methane emitted by “venting and flaring,” a technique sometimes used in natural gas production. The problem: The bureau has neither the statutory authority nor the scientific expertise to regulate air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency and the states do.
The EPA reported last month that, since 1990, methane emissions are down 18.6 percent from natural gas systems and 28.8 percent from petroleum systems. These decreases took place while natural gas production increased more than 45 percent.
In other words, the cooks rightly in the kitchen — EPA and the states — got it.
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The Bureau of Land Management’s rule would curtail some of the very oil and gas production that has helped reduce emissions. The cost of complying could lead to the permanent closure of up to 40 percent of the federal wells that flare, reducing the availability of affordable domestic energy to consumers and power companies, whose carbon emissions are at 25-year lows due to the increasing use of natural gas.
South Carolina’s leading business voices — the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, S.C. Manufacturers Alliance and S.C. Business and Industry Policy Education Committee — oppose the rule, saying its costs “will be borne … by our member companies and associations.” S.C. leaders in Washington can generally be counted on to push back against misguided and costly overregulation. This rule should be no exception. The House has voted to repeal it. Sen. Tim Scott supports repeal. Sen. Lindsay Graham should follow suit and kick the Bureau of Land Management out of this kitchen.
S.C. Executive Director, American Petroleum Institute