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May 23, 2024 5:36 PM
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Opinion: Methane Regulations Will Cost Families, Businesses, Environment – Inside Sources

When it comes to cleaning up the environment, everyone agrees that constant improvement in how we power our economy and lives is a requirement, not an option.

However, there is not always agreement on the best way to do it, especially when it comes to regulations that, while well-intentioned, actually impede progress. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposed methane regulations are a prime example of good intentions that will raise prices for families and businesses, increase the risk of a downturn across the economy, and introduce unclear, unrealistic timelines that can impede high-priority efforts to improve the environment.

High energy prices are a leading cause of economic downturns. Anything that restricts supply and risks higher prices puts added pressure on the economy. As we keep fighting through inflation and the interest rate increases required to slow it, America’s last need is a self-inflicted price hike for energy that will deliver marginal environmental gains at the cost of the economic well-being of families and small businesses.

There is a better way to do it that leverages the best of what America has to offer when that is the moment’s need.

In crafting the solutions to every great technical challenge the country has faced, the key ingredients have been private-sector innovation mixed with effective government collaboration. That process leads to the optimal solutions, where costs are low, flexibility is high, overlapping rules are minimal, and there is a critical path toward the goal — not impediments wrought by good government intentions gone wrong.

Unfortunately, the EPA has proposed an overly prescriptive methane regulation that would remove effective technologies from the equation. Any rule should be technology agnostic to give companies the maximum flexibility to achieve the goal efficiently and cost-effectively.

The regulation also includes a provision that would delegate the EPA’s enforcement power to private third parties, including many individuals and organizations with zero expertise in the subject matter. That would put them in a position of power the law does not allow. Outsourcing is not the appropriate solution in this case because how do we ensure that the impartiality obligations of the government are met when third parties with a history of antagonism toward certain energy types are granted federal authority? That path toward lawsuits will cost taxpayers and can easily be avoided by striking this provision.

Then there is the cost effect of these regulations, which would unnecessarily lower the energy supply and, in turn, raise prices. With economic strains the order of the day, setting a permanent form of price inflation into the rulebooks is not the right course.

Consumers have a good reason to be concerned that this proposed rule will raise prices and needlessly hurt household budgets.

Let’s find a way to exceed the environmental targets while ensuring that America’s environmental standard remains the world’s gold standard. While well-meaning, the early drafts of EPA’s proposed methane rule would do more harm than good.

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