A former Environmental Protection Agency regulator warns that while the Obama administration now has coal in its crosshairs, natural gas is next in line.

David Schnare cites a proposed rule on methane emissions as one of the ways President Obama and the EPA will clamp down on natural gas. The 33-year EPA veteran, who once sued utilities for coal-fired plants that didn’t meet Clean Air Act standards, is director of the Center of Energy and Environmental Stewardship at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Schnare said the EPA — as part of its “Clean Power Plan” rule that would largely put coal-fired power plants out of business — is contemplating forcing natural gas plants to increase their capacity from 46 percent to 70 percent to reduce carbon emissions by working them harder to replace older generation units that emit more carbon dioxide. This would lead to equipment failures as turbines designed for the lower workload could not endure a heavier one. Their carbon dioxide emissions would also be more regulated “at the very limit” of present technology.

“They’ve already started to pursue methane pollution, which the industry has been trying to control for a very long time, because that’s their product,” Schnare told Mississippi Watchdog. “The cost of running the drilling equipment, the pipelines and the plants themselves are being tightened.”

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