Friday, March 30, 2012

Senator Inhofe Attacks EPA Greenhouse Pollution Standard That Benefits Natural Gas: Will Republicans Follow His Lead Again?

After opposing the Natural Gas Act and seeking to repeal the EPA Air Toxic Rule, both of which benefit substantially natural gas, Senator Inhofe is adding to his substantial anti-natural gas positions by attacking the EPA proposed carbon pollution standard of 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour for new power plants.  One wonders whether Senator Inhofe is being driven to his anti-gas positions by blind allegiance to conservative ideology or blind opposition to whatever the Obama Administration proposes. Interestingly, The Houston Chronicle woodsheds Inhofe in a blistering editorial, while urging support of the EPA proposed greenhouse gas rule (see the link at end of this posting).

Natural gas plants already meet the proposed EPA carbon pollution standard of 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour, but new coal plants do not, as they would emit about twice the proposed standard, unless equipped with full carbon capture and sequestration technology.  CCS technology is currently expensive, barely commercially available, and should be a priority for research and development.

As with his past attacks on the Air Toxic Rule and the Natural Gas Act (sometimes called the Pickens Plan), Senator Inhofe is likely to have substantial Republican support and face large Democratic opposition to his latest assault on an EPA rule that benefits natural gas, this time the 1,000 pound per megawatt-hour pollution standard. The politics of natural gas is fluid, with supposed friends like Senator Inhofe aligned on big policy questions with some of the strongest opponents of "fracking." Sometimes, while initially heading in opposite directions, the political extremes can end up meeting.

Exhibiting a willingness to reject the political extremes, the American Natural Gas Alliance's (ANGA) first reaction to the EPA carbon pollution standard was tentatively supportive.  Perhaps, ANGA's position and the Houston Chronicle editorial indicate that Senator Inhofe and other mainly Republican members of Congress, who have blocked the Natural Gas Act, fought to repeal the Air Toxics Rule that will increase natural gas demand by about 1 trillion cubic feet per year, and now attack the EPA carbon pollution standard, may feel some blowback from the gas industry itself.

Certainly, the near solid Republican opposition to these 3 big initiatives that would boost natural gas demand hurts significantly natural gas investors and shareholders, as well as the environment and the broader economy.  With "friends" like Senator Inhofe and his allies in Congress, natural gas cannot afford any enemies.

This last point is motivating the Houston Chronicle that editorially called for Texas's two Republican Senators to support the EPA greenhouse gas rule and specifically singled out Senator Inhofe as someone not to be followed.


  1. John: I tend to view Sen. Inhofe as being against federal regulation of markets. This example of legislation he introduced yesterday is consistent with his approach, arguing that current state standards for hydraulic fracturing are effective. This could be viewed as a pro-natural gas bill, but I think it is really stating his principle against federal regulations:

  2. Putting aside the merits or need for the bill Senator Inhofe introduced, I am confident that the bill will make next to no difference in the production of gas, the demand for gas, the return investors earn, the lease or royalty payments, and so on. It is symbolic politics. Meanwhile Inhofe has attacked and caused his political allies to attack three major bills or regulations, all of which would make a big difference in the demand for gas. We have all this gas and we are not using enough of it. See the price for proof. No matter attacks on all the key measures to use more gas just keep coming from "friends" of the industry.