Dubious in Dubai: Biden Administration cracks down on U.S. natural gas, puts Alaska’s coal mine on notice

US & WORLD
Dubious in Dubai: Biden Administration cracks down on U.S. natural gas, puts Alaska’s coal mine on notice

U.S. environmental regulators unveiled a final regulation slashing methane emissions at Saturday’s United Nations climate change conference in Dubai, the 28th annual international gathering.

Another setback for the 174,000 Americans now working in coal-related occupations: the Biden administration has pledged to phase out coal entirely and has joined an anti-coal alliance.

Although oil operators in Alaska may not feel the effects of the methane regulation to the same extent as those in Texas, that is not the case. Hilcorp’s offshore rigs, which supply over 80% of the gas utilized in the Railbelt—in areas like the North Slope or Cook Inlet—will require additional resources to investigate any potential methane leak. Additionally, they will have to fork up cash to refute allegations of methane leakage to the EPA and to battle the government in court.

Because natural gas mostly consists of methane, it is challenging to entirely seal every potential leak along its path from the gas field to the power plant or cooking appliance. It is used to generate electricity, heat homes, and cook.

Actually, natural gas is vital to the majority of Alaskans, particularly those living in the Railbelt. Chugach Electric generates 82% of the electricity it distributes to its 92,000 customers from natural gas, 15% from hydropower, and 3% from wind turbines.

Before the final rule was revealed on Saturday, the EPA fined Hilcorp $180,000 for a methane leak in 2022. The new rule gives the agency even more ability to steal money from producers and shippers.

As permafrost melts, the biological metabolism of soil organic matter releases methane more rapidly, which is the primary source of methane on the North Slope. Actually, NASA reports that wetlands naturally account for around 40% of methane releases.

Animals such as cattle, buffalo, wild boar, and domesticated pigs are among the numerous additional natural sources of methane emissions; termites, for example, are responsible for 11% of these emissions. Because their excrement ferments, even hens contribute. Approximately 8 percent of the world’s natural methane emissions come from the seas themselves.

“This is historic news for our climate, for our future, and for our children,” said Biden’s EPA administrator, who praised his agency for finalising the methane regulations at the climate change summit. While today’s standards are lofty, they are also quite sensible.

The moment has arrived to act, according to Vice President Kamala Harris.

She declared that this moment is of utmost importance. “Time is of the essence now. Damn, it’s ripping. We also need to get back on track.

According to a story in August by The Guardian newspaper, the United Arab Emirates has neglected to disclose its methane emissions to the United Nations for over ten years, despite the fact that the Biden administration has singled out American methane. The UAE is hosting the Cop28 UN climate meeting in Dubai.

BIDEN HITS COAL INDUSTRY

Additionally, in Dubai, John Kerry, who is Biden’s special envoy on climate change, made an announcement regarding the United States’ membership in the Powering Past Coal Alliance. The Biden administration will not authorize the construction of any new coal plants and will gradually phase them out, although no specific date has been specified for decommissioning the existing ones. Along with 56 other nations, the no-coal alliance has pledged to phase out coal altogether.

“We will be working to accelerate unabated coal phase-out across the world, building stronger economies and more resilient communities,” Kerry stated in a statement on Saturday. “Stop constructing new unregulated coal power plants. That’s the first step in preventing the problem from getting worse.”

Kerry stated that the United States must phase out coal if it is to achieve its objective of producing entirely carbon-free power by the year 2035.

Coal mines in Alaska have been in operation since 1855, making the state rich in coal. Coal is still mined from Alaskan beaches because it is a naturally occurring substance that, after being heated and compressed for millions of years, converted dead plant matter into a rock that is both energy rich and flammable.

Ustibelli is the sole operational surface coal mine in Alaska, despite the state’s coal wealth. The mine employs over 100 people, with 66 percent of that number having been there for over 10 years, and produces approximately 1.2 million tons of coal annually.

About half of the coal-resource base in the US is located in Alaska, and the state accounts for one-sixth of the world’s total coal reserves. The fact that the federal government owns more than 61% of Alaska’s territory contributes to the state’s ranking of 20th in U.S. coal output. In terms of metric tons of coal produced, the five leading states are:

Number of people living in Wyoming: 244,730, or 41.2%
The number of people living in West Virginia is 83,448 (or 14.0%).
Illinois—37,488—6.3% Pennsylvania—39,701—6.7%
Number of people in Kentucky—28,527—4.8%

The only new coal-fired power plant in the US since 2015 is the one at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which debuted in 2018 after a $245 million construction expenditure.

The Biden administration also suggested an “energy efficiency standard” for gas cooking items in February. The Biden administration is making efforts to outlaw gas stoves, as well as gas-fired furnaces and outdoor barbecues. Based on statistics provided by the Department of Energy, it appears that half of the gas stove models marketed in the US now would not meet the requirements of this law.

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