- - Sunday, January 18, 2015

President Obama has gone to war. But not with the Islamic State group, Iran, North Korea or any foreign threat. Mr. Obama, at the urging of environmental extremists, has declared war on America’s oil and natural gas producers. His weapon of choice is a new Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut methane emissions by up to 45 percent by 2025.

This new war on oil and gas comes after the president’s skirmishing with coal that has damaged the economy, killed jobs and raised the price of energy for millions of Americans. In the campaign of 2008, Mr. Obama promised that his energy policies would “bankrupt” anyone who “wants to build a coal-fired power plant.” Under his plan, he said “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

It’s one promise Mr. Obama has managed to keep. Edicts and regulations imposed on coal-powered energy producers are ultimately expected to wipe out 600,000 American jobs and raise the average family’s electric bill by more than $150 a year.

Though there’s no evidence that the new methane regulation will do anything of benefit for the environment, the president’s diktat will dramatically reduce the safe and responsible hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling practices that have led to low oil and gasoline prices and ushered in an era of American energy independence. The White House concedes it hasn’t calculated the cost or economic ramifications of the new regulations. Clearly, however, the result will be fewer jobs; higher electricity, home heating and gasoline prices, and a renewed reliance on foreign oil, often from hostile countries.

That is a high and unnecessary price to pay to reduce methane emissions, especially considering such emissions are decreasing dramatically without government meddling. Methane emissions have fallen 40 percent since 2006, according to the administration’s own estimates. Over that time, domestic oil production increased 28 percent and natural gas production by 37 percent.

The decline in methane emissions are mostly the result of voluntary efforts by the energy industry to improve technologies used to extract oil and natural gas. According to the EPA’s own data, methane emissions resulting from fracking are down 73 percent. There’s a further commitment by the industry to capture and use the methane it produces. Methane is an important resource used in fuel and chemical manufacturing. The value of methane makes Mr. Obama’s new regulations unnecessary. “It would be like issuing regulations forcing ice cream makers to spill less ice cream,” says Thomas Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research.

In fact, according to the EPA, methane emissions from the energy industry have fallen so dramatically that flatulence and belching of cows, pigs, sheep and other farm animals now emit more methane than from oil and natural gas production.

Mr. Obama’s renewed war on oil and natural gas has little to do with the environment, and much to do with attacking the fossil fuel industry on behalf of the global warming alarmists who have been his most reliable allies. The new methane emission regulations might make a nice parting gift to the president’s environmental extremists as he moves toward the end of his days in office.

Mr. Obama’s gift to the American people will be higher energy prices, fewer jobs, a weaker economy and a renewed dependence on foreign oil. That’s hardly a legacy to be proud of.

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