In September, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to include the methane fee in the reconciliation bill, despite vehement Republican opposition. But in closed-door meetings, industry leaders have admitted the opposite: Methane gas has very little value. Over the last three months, Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other fossil fuel interests have flooded Facebook with ads opposing the budget bill and its climate provisions. In Texas’ oil-rich Permian Basin, unpermitted flaring of methane is ubiquitous, according to a recent report from the conservation group Earthworks. Methane is 86 times more powerful than CO2 over 20 years in the atmosphere and accounts for approximately one-fifth of human-caused planetary warming.
The $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package at the center of a heated congressional debate this week represents a unique opportunity for Democrats to advance ambitious climate policies. Among its provisions is a fee on methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas released from a number of sources, including oil and gas operations.
The oil and gas industry is desperately fighting this proposed fee by reupping old, disingenuous claims about having an “economic incentive” to curb methane, since it is the main component of natural gas and supposedly valuable to fossil fuel producers....
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