Chris Prandoni

ATR Urges Senators to Oppose the Motion to End Debate on the Shaheen-Portman Energy Bill


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, May 9th, 2014, 11:15 AM PERMALINK


Harry Reid - The Scream

Harry Reid - The Scream (Photo credit: absentee_redstate)

Today, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent the below letter to the Senate urging Republicans to oppose the motion to end debate on the so-called Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. Once again, Harry Reid has disallowed Republican amendments by "filling the tree." this is unacceptable.

From the letter:

Democrat political maneuvering has obfuscated the Party’s anti-energy policies in an attempt to fool voters come November. Senate Republicans must fight back against the subversive tactics employed by Majority Leader Reid.

Sen. Reid killed the Shaheen-Portman bill, not Senate Republicans.

America is at an energy crossroads. The shale revolution has unlocked previously unthinkable amounts of oil and natural gas. The EPA is writing unprecedented new regulations for power plants, gasoline content, and state emission content. The White House scuttled the Keystone Pipeline. Oil and natural gas production is down on federal lands. Federal laws prohibit the export of crude oil and inhibit liquefied natural gas exports.

Click here to view the full letter.

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Obama Budget Proposes $100 Billion in Tax Hikes on Energy Producers

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Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, 1:41 PM PERMALINK


Obama Energy Tax Proposals

The President’s FY 2015 budget contains billions in tax increase on energy production and consumption. These taxes will result in higher prices at the pump, increased utility bills, and fewer American jobs as companies flee the U.S. and companies cannot recover their investments. Below is a breakdown of energy taxes Obama put forth in his 2015-2024 budget:

Tax Increase

FY 2015

FY 2015-2024

 Industry Impact

Increase Amortization Period for G&G

$100 million

$3.1   billion

$3.1 billion

Double-taxing Dual-Capacity taxpayers

$550 million

$10.4 billion

$10.4 billion

Repeal Percentage Depletion:

  • Oil and Natural Gas
  • Hard Minerals

 

$1 billion
$167 million

 

$13 billion
$2 billion

 

$13 billion
$2 billion

Repeal Intangible Drilling & Expensing of Exploration Cost for Coal

  • Oil and Natural Gas
  • Hard Mineral

 

 

 

$2.3 billion
$39 million

 

 

 

$14.4   billion
$680 million

 

 

 

$14.4 billion
$680 million

Section 199

  • Oil and Natural Gas
  • Hard Mineral

 

$1 billion
$36 million

 

$14.2 billion
$726 million

 

$14.2 billion
$726 million

Repeal Tertiary Injectants

$10 million

$100 million

$ 100 million

Reinstate Superfund barrel of oil excise tax

$1.6 billion

$23.2  billion

$ 11.6 billion

Retroactively repeal LIFO accounting

$4 billion

$82 billion

$29 billion

Repeal Passive Loss

$7 million

$74 million

$74 million

Ratchet up Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund tax

$60 million

$1 billion

$1 billion

That’s an energy tax increase of nearly $100 billion by 2024!

ATR Recommendation

Allow all employers to deduct all of their business expenses in the year they are incurred. In the same budget President Obama argues for full business expensing for small businesses, he looks to lengthen – or eliminate entirely – cost recovery mechanisms for America’s energy producers. This sort of duplicity is not only inequitable, but hamstrings the American economy.

Investment is essential to economic growth. The easiest and fairest way to ensure businesses spend money is to allow them to recoup their expenditures immediately, not depreciate or amortize expenses over arbitrary periods of time. Needlessly tying up capital in strange depreciation tables only exacerbates our current economic morass; yet, this is exactly what President Obama is advocating.

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Did an EPA Report Just Kill 30,000 Jobs?


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, February 3rd, 2014, 9:24 AM PERMALINK


Conservatives looking to affirm the old adage that regulatory uncertainty kills jobs have new evidence: the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 10 Bristol Bay, Alaska Mining Assessment. So powerful is the EPA that an obscure report can threaten 30,000 jobs and a billion dollar mining project.

The Bristol Bay Assessment

Released last week, the Bristol Bay Assessment pours cold water on the prospective Alaskan Pebble Mine, a uniquely large deposit of copper and gold valued at $30 billion. In order to develop the world’s largest untouched copper cache, the Pebble Mine’s prospectors need to apply for and receive numerous permits from federal and state agencies. One requisite authorization is the Clean Water Act’s 404(c) permit issued by the Army Corp of Engineers but codified by the EPA.

A variety of interest groups, from national environmentalists to commercial fishers, have urged the EPA to kill the Pebble Mine by pre-emptively denying the necessary 404(c) permit. These groups do not want the EPA to review the years of water, soil, and environmental data collected by the Pebble Mine’s developers – no debate, no discussion, end the application process before it begins. There are real concerns about the Pebble Mine’s environmental impact, especially on the local salmon population, but the far left’s unconditional “Stop Pebble” mantra reveals their fear of discussion.

Sounding a dog whistle, the EPA signaled their disapproval of the project through a series of extra-regulatory reports on the area surrounding the Pebble Mine site. In April of 2013, the EPA released a revised draft assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed. The game was rigged from the start – EPA used anti-mining organizations like Earthworks as peer-reviewers.

Assumptions Made By The EPA Report

The report also made a number of strange assumptions about mitigation plans that run contrary to standard Alaskan practices. Unsurprisingly, these assumptions led the EPA to conclude that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to build an environmentally safe mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska...

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4 Reasons the State Department Thinks Obama Should Approve the Keystone Pipeline


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, January 31st, 2014, 4:41 PM PERMALINK


Today the State Department released yet another Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about the Keystone XL Pipeline. The definition of a bureaucratic nightmare, TransCanada has been trying to build the Keystone Pipeline for over 5 years.

Go to www.approvethepipeline.com  to tell President Obama to stop blocking 40,000 jobs

Now that the State Department has released its generally positive assessment of the project, Obama should stop sitting on his hands and approve it. Here are three quotes from the EIS highlighting exactly why Obama should approve the pipeline.

Jobs are good

"During construction, proposed Project spending would support approximately 42,100 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced), and approximately $2 billion in earnings throughout the United States.”

Canada will develop its oil reserves with or without the Keystone pipeline. The only question is, will the U.S. refine the oil, or will China?

"[A]pproval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the U.S.”

The world will continue to run on oil:

“The dominant drivers of oil sands development are more global than any single infrastructure project. Oil sands production and investment could slow or accelerate depending on oil price trends, regulations, and technological developments, but the potential effects of those factors on the industry’s rate of expansion should not be conflated with the more limited effects of individual pipelines.”

And lastly, that blocking or approving the Keystone XL pipeline would not have a "significant" impact on overall greenhouse-gas emissions and future tar-sands expansions.

Click here to tell Obama to approve the Keystone Pipeline.

 

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Rep. Valadao's Legislation Puts Families Before Bait Fish


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, January 31st, 2014, 2:51 PM PERMALINK


Rep. Valadao(R-CA) is sponsoring a bill in the House that brings water to Cali's drought-stricken Central Valley over objections it may kill a bait fish.

The House is currently reviewing a bill that would restore water to tens of thousands of farmers in California. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, H.R. 3964, amends previous legislation in an effort to restore water to California’s Central Valley which drought has cost millions of acres of crops to perish, along with jobs and people’s livelihoods.

California’s Central Valley has been receiving water from the Central Valley Project, a collection of canals, reservoirs, pumps and dams, since 1933. The CVP resulted in development of major cities such as Fresno, and Sacramento. The Valley is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, producing 8 percent of the nation’s agrarian output on less than 1 percent of farmland in the U.S.

The Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) of 1992 has changed this. Concerned about fish and wildlife habitats, the bill shut restricted water to parts the San Joaquin Valley and established restoration funds for the ecosystem. The result has been severe drought, and a collapse of the farming industry in the Valley. The area is currently one of the most impoverished in the nation. Furthermore the aims CVPIA took for environmental restoration have been unsuccessful. Twenty years and billions of dollars later, less than half of the restoration projects have been completed. A review of CVPIA by the OMB has shown that fish populations have either stayed the same or declined since 1992.

Sponsored by Rep. David Valadao, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Actseeks to renew and expedite long-term water contracts for the Central Valley Project. The legislation also demands more accountability from the Secretary of the Interior regarding the issue, as well as transparency for the restoration program and its expenditures. The bill is nonetheless environment-conscious, considering all requirements instituted by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

It is clear this bill will not only quench the drought-stricken farmers of California’s Central Valley, bringing back thousands of jobs, but it will also help reduce the ever increasing grocery costs that consumers are experiencing across the nation. With little change in population trends for endangered fish in the area, it is evident that turning on the water pumps will only affect those struggling families whom have been growing American produce for almost a century.

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Carper-Coburn Postal Bill S.1486 Props-up Broken USPS


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, January 27th, 2014, 10:55 AM PERMALINK


With the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) $5 billion deficit driving Congressional action, Sens. Carper and Coburn have put forth a bill that protects a bloated union workforce and paves the way for consumer rate increases.

Rightsizing the workforce
Compared to the private sector, about 80 percent of the Post Office’s costs are labor related, while FedEx and UPS spend 20-40 percent less. For years the USPS has acknowledged its excess capacity, yet S. 1486 delays necessary attrition by placing a two-year moratorium on any further plant closures.

Overpaid workers
USPS employees are paid far above expected market rates: 34% more than their private sector counterparts. The average annual compensation (including benefits) of a postal employee is well in excess of $80,000. While S. 1486 allows the Postal Service to establish a new retirement plan for new employees, the legislation does little to address inflated employee wages. It is the combination of too many employees that are paid too much that is dragging USPS into the red. The solution to USPS’s self-identified problems is to address these labor issues head-on, not look for more revenue through rate increases.

Raising rates
Unable to save enough money through necessary cuts, the USPS will be forced to raise postal rates. S. 1486 changes and then permits complete elimination of the CPI based annual cap on postal rates. Without such a cap, USPS will have little incentive to reduce its workforce and rein in its costs. Instead of duking it out with the union, the USPS will likely raise rates on consumers. Ultimately, increasing postal service rates forces customers to prop-up the continued inefficient operations of the postal service.

Rate increases would only cause more customers to flee the mail system and could exacerbate the USPS’s most obvious problem – mail volume dropped by 25 percent from 2006 to 2013, from 213 billion pieces of mail a year to 158 billion pieces of mail a year. The legislation then permits the Postal Service to usurp rate-setting responsibilities from the independent oversight of the Postal Regulatory Commission to the USPS Board of Governors, the same entity that has overseen billion dollar losses year after year. ATR supports efforts to remove the problematic provisions on postal rates from the bill.

Essential services
Instead of addressing its labor-induced problems, in the past USPS has attempted to offer consumers services outside its core competency of mail delivery. These forays into other services have consistently ended poorly.  A conservative postal bill should prohibit the Postal Service from venturing into new non-postal areas for which it has no expertise or legitimacy.

Conclusion
The USPS has acknowledged that its problems lay in its excess capacity, including workforce and facilities. While S. 1486 takes some steps to address healthcare costs for USPS employees – no small achievement – it does not do enough to fix USPS’s unnecessary overhead. Burdening ratepayers with USPS’s labor costs is not only unfair, but could undermine the entire system by driving more users out of it.

PDF Version

 

 

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ATR endorses the Electricity Security and Affordability Act


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, January 24th, 2014, 2:48 PM PERMALINK


Expected to pass out of the Energy and Commerce next Tuesday, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist had this to say about the Electricity Security and Affordability Act:

“The Electricity Security and Affordability Act is necessary legislation that repeals the EPA’s misguided greenhouse gas standards for new power plants and guides the EPA towards creating new, achievable standards. If this legislation is not adopted, it is possible that a new coal-fired power plant will never be built in the United States again. Congress never intended for the EPA to unilaterally determine what source of energy Americans consume. The Electricity Security and Affordability Act also reaffirms Congress's legislative duties by enacting numerous safeguards against EPA partisan overreach. In sum, this is essential legislation intended to rebut the Obama Administration’s war on affordable energy. I urge every Member of Congress to support the Electricity Security and Affordability Act.”

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Sen. Baucus Cost Recovery Tax Reform Draft Threatens American Energy Revolution


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, November 21st, 2013, 3:57 PM PERMALINK


Today Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released a tax reform draft that would severely hamstring America’s energy producers by reducing their ability to redeploy capital investments. The recent American energy boon, one of the few bright spots in the American economy, is predicated on large, successive capital outlays.

An IHS study estimates that just the development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources will:

  • Require $5.1 trillion in capital expenditures between 2012 and 2035
  • Create and support nearly 2.5 million jobs by 2015 and 3.5 million in 2035
  • Annually contribute $475 billion to GDP by 2035

These economic benefits are only possible if energy companies are allowed to recover their billion dollar investments in a timely manner. Unfortunately, Sen. Baucus’s draft inhibits domestic investment, killing thousands of American energy jobs.

Baucus’s Energy Tax hikes – a deduction delayed is a deduction denied

Lengthen Intangible Drilling Cost to 5 years: Currently, independent producers can deduct 100 percent of their intangible drilling costs in the year they are incurred while integrated oil companies may deduct 70 percent of their intangible costs in the year they are incurred. The Baucus draft, much like the Obama plan, would require energy companies to recovery these costs over 5 years. Wood-Mackenzie economists analyzed the effects of a similar proposal and found that:

  • Investment through the drilling and development of oil and gas resources will decline by $407 billion over the period 2014 to 2023
  • This is driven by a reduction in drilling by an average of 8,000 wells and over 400 rigs per year
  • The impact on employment is to lose an average of 225,000 jobs per year of which an estimated 65,000 would be direct oil and gas industry jobs
  • By 2023 we expect the IDC delay case production to be 3.8 mmboed (or 14%) lower than the current case

Lengthen Tertiary Injectants and Geological and Geophysical expenditures to 5 years: In 2005, geological and geophysical costs were available to be amortized over a two year period. Since then, Congress has twice extended the G&G amortization period to seven years for the largest integrated companies. Now Sen. Baucus is looking to require small, independent energy producers to move to a five year amortization period.

Repeal Last In First Out accounting method with 8 years to pay at a new lower rate: Since 1938, companies have had a choice between using “first-in, first-out” (FIFO) and “last-in, first, out” (LIFO) to account for the profit made on a good sold. The Sen. Baucus draft would eliminate the longstanding LIFO practice and force companies to pay the government billions of dollars in “unaccounted for profits” accrued over the last 60 years.  President Obama similarly proposed to end LIFO in his FY 2014 budget which would have raised taxes by a whopping $80 billion – $28.3 billion would be paid by oil and natural gas producers.

Repeal percentage depletion: For over a century, there have been two ways to calculate the income deduction coinciding with a mineral asset’s rate of depletion: percentage depletion and cost depletion. The preferred method of deduction, percentage depletion, allows the producer to deduct the gross income derived from extracting fossil fuels or other minerals.

Under President Obama’s comparable percentage depletion repeal proposal, oil and natural gas companies would see their taxes rise by nearly $11 billion over the next ten years and hard mineral producers (think coal) taxes rise by $2 billion over the same period. 

All business outlays should be fully expensed in the year they are incurred

Not only is immediate expensing fair and simple, but it would spur economic growth permanently increasing long-run GDP by 2.28 percent. Wages over time would rise by 2.07 percent.

Picking and choosing who is allowed to deduct what when invites politicians to reward parochial interests and punish disliked industries, in this case oil and natural gas producers. Instead of continuing to carve up the tax code like Sen. Baucus’s Cost Recovery Proposal does, a more prudent tax reform plan would level the playing field for all businesses by allowing companies to fully deduct all their expenses in the year they are incurred.

 

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Sen. Vitter's Environment and Public Works' staff skewer Obama Admin in brilliant top ten list


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013, 10:02 AM PERMALINK


Crossposted in its entirety:

10.       Approximately 15,000 EPA employees are furloughed, making it less likely fake CIA agents at EPA will be ripping off the taxpayer

Last month, John C. Beale, a former EPA senior official in the Office of Air & Radiation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pled guilty to criminal charges for stealing nearly $900,000 from the Agency. For years, Beale claimed to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to shirk his EPA work responsibilities. U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), has also been actively working on an investigation of Beale and the Agency's policies and processes that facilitated Mr. Beale's fraud. Vitter wants EPA can take to reform its management policies and has called for an EPW committee hearing. Click here to read more.

9.         EPA doesn’t have the manpower to raid Alaska mines with armed guards

In August, EPA agents conducted an armed raid against miners in Chicken, Alaska, following up on an alleged claim of violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). One miner said of the raid, “Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor….and all packing side arms. How would you have felt? You would be wondering, ‘My God, what have I done now?’” Click here to read more.

8.         Fewer bureaucrats at the EPA makes it less likely that they’ll make up science on new regulations

Vitter and EPW Republicans have pointed out the flawed science behind a number of EPA rules and regulations on the social cost of carbon, methanol, power plants, hydraulic fracturing, and the list goes on and on. Click here to read more.

7.         Former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar is worried about oil production in the Gulf of Mexico

“The continued shutdown of the federal government will ultimately affect the government approval of activities in the Gulf of Mexico. [Given] the contribution the Gulf is making to the energy future of the United States . . . it’s not the kind of rollback we ought to have.” – Former Interior Secretary Salazar, October 1, 2013

Former Secretary of the Department of Interior (Interior) Ken Salazar was responsible for essentially shutting down all oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico when he implemented a moratorium on production in 2010. The Inspector General of the Interior Department during Salazar’s tenure is still under investigation for her role in turning a blind eye to the fudging of a National Academy of Engineers report related to the moratorium. The halt in production had a negative impact on energy production for several years. Salazar was also responsible for throwing out the previous 5-year plan for energy production and leasing on the outer continental shelf, which eliminated vast resources that should be available to the nation’s energy producers. Limiting Gulf of Mexico access, as well as access on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts perpetuated the Administration’s attempts to shut down offshore energy production.

Read more about Salazar’s incredibly ironic statement here.

6.         World War II veterans have stormed the Normandy beaches again. (Sadly, they had to, in order to gain access to their own memorial)

President Obama ordered that all national parks, monuments, and museums be shut down, even national parks that are fully funded by non-profit organizations and receive zero federal dollars for their operations.  He also had barricades placed around the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., keeping out the visiting US World War II veteran forces and other visitors who could not get access to the memorial that commemorates the veterans’ sacrifices and commitment.  On October 8, 2013, the National Mall was opened for a rally to promote the Gang of 8 immigration legislation, which has been called an amnesty bill for illegal immigrants.

5.         EPA doesn’t have the manpower to unilaterally expand its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act

EPA has perpetually taken steps to expand its own jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The now-withdrawn guidance document and new rule are symptoms of an agency unceasingly trying to broaden its reach and frustrate commerce. Vitter and EPW Republicans have been demanding a whole lot more transparency and to unequivocally withdraw the controversial draft guidance. Read more here.

4.         U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) still finds time on the Senate floor to make inaccurate claims about green jobs.  (This is a positive, right . . . NOT!)

“There are more jobs now in green energy than in the entire oil and gas industry.” – Senator Whitehouse, October 10, 2013

 A recent study by the American Petroleum Institute found that as of 2011 the oil and gas industry supports 9.8 million full-time and part-time jobs, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011 there were only 3.4 million “green” industry supported jobs. Estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory show that the federal government spent approximately $9 billion on green jobs, while only creating 910 new, long-term jobs. This means American taxpayers spent $9.8 million per job. A more thorough analysis of the dubious nature of such claims can be found here.

3.         Far-left environmentalists prove themselves hypocrites again: They criticize continuing oil and gas production on federal lands during the shutdown but issue no call to halt wind turbines

"It's disappointing that the public is shut out from national parks but oil companies get to drill in them.” - Alex Taurel, Deputy Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters

Vitter has repeatedly pointed out the hypocrisy of the Administration pursuing cases involving oil and gas producers, and not wind energy producers. The Administration has taken legal action against oil and gas producers whose operations have resulted in the death of birds. On the other hand, they have failed to pursue action against, and even offered waivers to, the companies who operate wind turbines that kill birds, including bald eagles, on leased federal lands. It was recently reported that “wind turbines kill over 600,000 birds annually.”

2.         President Obama has a temporary excuse for his stonewalling on FOIA and other transparency demands of the Administration

Currently over 90% of EPA’s employees are furloughed. EPW Republicans have focused on the lack of transparency within the Obama Administration, particularly at the EPA, but also at the Treasury Department who have refused to release their involvement in developing a carbon tax.

And the number 1 reason the government shutdown isn’t all bad…

1.         Richard Windsor has been furloughed—for good!

“Richard Windsor,” the now infamous email alias for former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has been touted by the Administration as an example of standard procedure for high level employees. As it would turn out, from 2009 to 2012, EPA awarded ethics certificates to the employee “Richard Windsor” who was also described as a top student in the Agency’s ethical-behavior class. Click here to read more.

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America's Fracking Revolution Is Threatened By A New Report From The State Department


Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013, 12:07 PM PERMALINK


This Article Originally Appeared on Forbes.com

Many on the left have long viewed hydraulic fracturing and low natural gas prices as a threat to their zero-carbon utopia. Affordable, clean burning natural gas not only undermines the economics of solar and wind, but also the justification for these fickle sources of energy.

Last winter, New York and a handful of other Northeast states announced they were going to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force stricter methane regulations. The New York Attorney General wrote:

    "EPA has found that the impacts of climate change caused by methane include “increased air and ocean temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, melting and thawing of global glaciers and ice, increasingly severe weather events-such as hurricanes of greater intensity-and sea level rise.” In 2009, EPA determined that methane and other greenhouse gases endanger the public’s health and welfare."

    "The EPA’s decision not to directly address the emissions of methane from oil and natural gas operations-including hydrofracking-leaves almost 95% of these emissions uncontrolled."

It appears that these radical actors, New York is one of a few states that bans hydraulic fracturing, have the ear of our government. Included in the State Department’s just released 2014 Climate Action Report is a call for an interagency methane strategy and all but announces future EPA methane regulations:

   "Methane emissions will be addressed by developing a 40 comprehensive, interagency methane strategy, focusing on assessing current emissions data, 41 addressing data gaps, identifying technologies and best practices for reducing emissions, and 42 identifying existing authorities and incentive-based opportunities to reduce methane emissions."

Luckily for the EPA and State Department, a new study by the University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) revealed that methane emissions associated with natural gas production are far less than previously thought. EDF, an organization that is often critical of the oil and natural gas industry, calculated that average emissions were almost 50 times lower than EPA estimates.

To Read More Click Here

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