Port: Democrats push a methane emissions regulation that isn't actually tied to methane emissions

You probably fell asleep just reading that title, but wake yourselves up, because I'm about to blow your minds by describing how stupid this bit of legislative doggerel is.

An oil well in western North Dakota. Forum News Service file photo
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MINOT, N.D. — Ostensibly, environmentalists don't like fossil fuels because they're bad for the environment. From extraction to emissions, they say they want cleaner energy.

So it's ironic, then, how often environmentalists invest themselves in opposing efforts to make fossil fuels cleaner.

For instance, North Dakota is putting a lot of support behind carbon capture technology even amid much sneering from activists and left-wing pundits. The technology, if it proves out, could make North Dakota's energy industries cleaner viable for much longer, preserving not just energy security for our nation and region but a lot of economic security for North Dakotans as well.

But many supposed environmentalists, alarmed that it might just work , are spending their time undermining those efforts toward technological breakthroughs.

Another example is the Methane Reduction Act of 2021 .


You probably fell asleep just reading that title, but wake yourselves up, because I'm about to blow your minds by describing how stupid this bit of legislative doggerel is.


  • Port: The inconvenient truth is that renewables are making our power grids less reliable A generator company is raking in profits because America's power grids, increasingly beholden to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, can't keep the lights on.

  • Port: It's time to stop pushing masks and focus on vaccines No reasonable person wants Americans to be wearing masks forever. We all want this pandemic to end. Vaccines, not masks, are the long-term solution.

  • Port: Auditor Josh Gallion says his office will be auditing North Dakota's election systems "We are looking purely at the system. It's not about contesting the outcome," Gallion says.

The policy is designed to reduce methane emissions by charging companies that handle oil or natural gas a fee. You'd think that fee would be based on the amount of methane those companies actually emit, thus providing a cost incentive to, you know, reduce methane emissions and stuff.
This is where it gets stupid because that's not how it works.

The fee isn't based on emissions. Companies would be obligated to pay it simply because they're engaged in the oil and gas industry.

In a letter co-signed by the North Dakota Petroleum Council among other industry groups, the American Petroleum Institute said they "are concerned the bill will have unintended environmental, as well as economic, impacts and could put us on the wrong path when it comes to addressing climate change."


This policy would remove an incentive to reduce methane emissions.

“[B]ecause the bill would tax companies based on the amount of oil or natural gas they produce or handle, not based on their actual emissions, it could perversely disincentivize facilities with higher emissions intensities relative to the basin average from reducing their emissions. At the same time, this approach could unfairly punish high production operators with lower emissions intensities," the letter argues.


A pumpjack is pictured at an oil well in western North Dakota. (Dickinson Press file photo)

Why in the world would a bunch of greenie politicians, who claim to want to reduce methane emissions, create a methane fee that isn't tied to methane emissions?

Because the goal isn't to reduce methane emissions through logical, if debatable, policies aimed at creating a financial incentive.

The goal is to destroy the fossil fuel industry because it's in the way of the sort of industry more to the liking of the environmentalist political class. Which, ironically, would likely worsen global emissions from fossil fuels. If America produces less of them, that means more will be produced in other parts of the world to meet demand. Parts of the world that aren't nearly so scrupulous as we are when it comes to protecting the environment.

All reasonable people agree that making our various industries more in line with modern understanding about our environment and the climate is a noble goal. It's something we want.

But one of the hurdles in the way of that goal is that we also need cost-effective, reliable energy.

The environmentalists don't care about that. They are out to crush the fossil fuel industry with often violent protests, endless litigation, and rafts of nonsensical regulations like the Methane Reduction Act of 2021 , which could end up in the Senate's reconciliation package.


Again, the endgame is killing the oil, gas, and coal industries, not making them and their products, which every one of you reading this is using every day, better.

Why would any person not addled by ideological tribalism, or, in the case of the green power people, just plain old crony capitalism, support that?

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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