The Institute for Policy Integrity produces three types of publications: policy briefs, reports, and working papers. Geared to an audience of political decisionmakers, our policy briefs provide incisive and focused analysis on timely policy topics. Our report series develops deeper research and examination of our core issues. Our working papers give an opportunity for extensive and original scholarly research and analysis from established experts as well as fresh new voices.
Science and Strategies to Curb Methane Emissions from the Oil and Natural Gas Sector
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a potent climate pollutant up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timeframe. Currently the United States loses at least 1 to 3 percent of its total natural gas production each year when methane is leaked or vented to the atmosphere. Federal regulations could reduce methane emissions by up to 50 percent at little or no net cost, using available technologies.
Inconsistent Positions and Missed Opportunities
This Essay examines and explains the positions of the principal interest groups over the past four decades with respect to the two central questions of environmental policy: the appropriate policy goal and the instrument that should be used to carry out the policy. While environmental groups and industry have largely switched positions on the two central questions of environmental policy, the points at which their positions overlapped were fleeting, and opportunities to make substantial progress in rationalizing the system of environmental regulation have largely been unrealized.
This essay argues that U.S. environmental policy should operate in accordance with five major components of rationality: cost-benefit analysis; cost minimization; flexible market-based instruments; constraints on grandfathering; and the sensible allocation of decision-making authority between the federal government and the states. This past Term, the Supreme Court decided two significant cases, which together should be seen as producing a move toward rationality in environmental policy.