New York Gov. Cuomo Pushes Costly Methane Reduction Plan

Published July 3, 2017

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced an ambitious plan to reduce methane emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 throughout New York.

Cuomo has said methane is second only to carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change and represents almost 10 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions in the state.

Cuomo’s 25-step “Methane Reduction Plan,” announced on May 17, calls for the state to cut methane emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990’s number by 2050.

Among the industries and sources of methane emissions targeted for reduction under the plan are active and inactive landfills and new and existing oil and gas infrastructure, including pipelines, terminals, and power stations.

Under the plan, the state government would deploy methane detection systems in residential areas, require methane capture and combustion technologies at new landfills and provide incentives to install such technologies at farms and smaller existing landfills, and provide incentives to reduce or eliminate methane leaks in pipelines owned by utilities and customers. As described by Cuomo, most of the 25 steps can be undertaken under existing authority of regulatory agencies, though some of the funding mechanisms may require legislative support.

Embracing Junk Science?

Gary Stone, vice president of engineering for Five States Energy, says Cuomo’s plan is based on “junk science” and will be expensive.

“New York continues down the suicidal path of embracing the junk science of manmade climate change,” said Stone. “Gov. Cuomo’s new and expensive plan aims to reduce methane emissions from landfills, oil and gas infrastructure, farms, and in residential areas.

“It follows the state’s 2015 ban on hydraulic fracturing, striking another costly blow to New York businesses and residential energy users, who will see prices rise even higher than they already are as these programs are implemented,” Stone said. “While no one argues against commonsense efforts to reduce emissions when possible, the governor’s goal to supply 50 percent of energy through unreliable and cost-prohibitive renewable-energy methods is another economic blow to the New York economy.”

Fred Palmer, a senior fellow in energy policy at The Heartland Institute, publisher of Environment & Climate News, says Cuomo’s methane emissions plan was passed to eventually end fossil-fuel use, not to control pollution.

“Gov. Cuomo’s methane emissions plan has nothing to do with pollution control,” Palmer said. “Instead, the governor embraces Al Gore’s pernicious idea fossil-fuel use needs to be eliminated by mid-century to fight catastrophic climate change,” Palmer said. “Natural gas use, like coal and oil, is at risk from Cuomo and Gore, even though our very lives depend on robust use of these fossil fuels.

“If Cuomo and Gore successfully end fossil-fuel use, widespread human suffering in New York and elsewhere will result, lives will be shorter and meaner, and our economy will be a shadow of what it is today,” Palmer said.

Develop Existing Sources

Stone says New Yorkers could have much less expensive, cleaner, more-reliable energy if the government would only allow industry to develop shale fields for natural-gas production in the state.

“The natural-gas industry within the state supplies a minute fraction of the natural gas New Yorkers use, yet the state has the capacity to supply much more through development of shale gas reserves in the southern part of the state,” said Stone. “Clean-burning natural gas currently supplies over 30 times the amount of energy to New Yorkers as renewables do, and this amount can increase substantially with the proven-safe development of shale natural-gas resources.

“Instead of spending money on capturing the methane coming from a cow’s behind, New Yorkers need to spend it on developing existing energy sources,” Stone said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.