Proposed tax on natural gas will be rough on Santa

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If Santa and his formerly merry elves didn’t already have problems enough with sky-high supply chain costs and delays, Democrat Grinches are pushing for a penalty tax on methane producers, reindeer flatulence presumably included.

To this end, a recently passed U.S. House bill would impose an escalating “fee” on oil and gas industry methane emission releases that would reach $1,500 per ton by 2025.

Although it remains to be seen whether or not Santa’s North Pole cottage industry will be exempted as a public service non-profit producer, all energy consumers will experience what amounts to a stealthy passed-along tax.

Yes, despite Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year, this is definitely a tax on an estimated 180 million Americans of all income brackets who use natural gas to heat homes and run appliances, along with some 5.5 million businesses that use it to run their workplaces and manufacturing facilities.

That tax will hit homeowners and renters especially hard this winter.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), half of U.S. households that primarily heat with natural gas will pay 30% more this winter than they did a year ago, and 50% more if this winter is cold. On top of that, the American Gas Association estimates the methane tax could add another 17% to an average customer’s bill.

Once that tax is in place, be assured that Democrats will attempt to accelerate its rise over time through ongoing regulatory methane restrictions.

These hikes, of course, will hurt low-income families without financial cushions the most…according to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as three times larger hardship burdens than for more affluent households.

EIA also estimates that the volume of natural gas in storage is currently 16.5% less than a year ago, and U.S. power plant coal inventories are expected to fall to the lowest figures since at least 1997.

As a result, analysts predict it might not have to get extraordinarily cold this winter for prices to reach heights unknown during the shale era which transformed the U.S. from a gas importer to supplier to the world.

The methane tax is only the latest salvo in the war on hydrocarbons.

Their first attempt was a 2010 carbon cap-and-trade bill, another blatant stealth tax which fortunately failed in another Democrat-controlled Senate. Next came fossil fuel regulations proposed in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan that lost out in legal court challenges.

A third try, the original Biden administration budget plan which was nixed by West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, included a new version of the Clean Power Plan that would have forced utilities to replace fossil fuels with renewables on a rapid timetable.

Nevertheless, despite at least temporary setbacks in killing American fossil energy independence through Congress, President Biden achieved great advancement toward that agenda through executive fiat.

During his first days in office, Biden executive orders and directives canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and capped drilling permits in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), while simultaneously giving President Vladimir Putin a pass to complete Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic to sell their natural gas to Europe.

Then, in response to politically painful U.S. pump and electricity prices, the Biden administration has pleaded with OPEC to boost oil production.

Adding further lack of self-awareness, White House officials recently asked oil and gas industry executives how best to moderate price increases.

During a Nov. 5 interview, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor, declared it “hilarious” to think the White House could bring down energy prices. “Would that I had a magic wand,” she mused.

Returning to first principles, recall that the purported purpose of these policies was to finally end billions of years of global climate change by achieving “net-zero” global greenhouse gas emissions.

This, in turn, was somehow to be accomplished by switching over from the 85% of reliable world energy that comes from fossil sources by increasing from the 3% of seasonal and weather-dependent wind and solar systems we buy from China which meanwhile is building the equivalent of one new coal-fired plant weekly.

Then, as planned, we’ll also replace the current 98% of petroleum-fueled cars and trucks by government subsidies and mandates that grow the current 2% of electric vehicles (EVs), add them to already overloaded power grids, and purchase the rare earth minerals required for all those intermittent solar, wind and EV batteries from China which controls 85% of the world supply.

Ironically, a precious resource China desperately lacks — and also one that American Democrat politicos so derisively disdain — is richly abundant “black gold.”

Amid carbon emission reduction mania and global shortfalls as many countries stock up limited supplies for winter months ahead, world coal prices have already soared to more than $200 a metric ton, three times higher than at the end of 2019. This is also pushing up world electricity prices, given that coal generates around 40% of global power supplies.

The world’s second-largest economy, China, is also its biggest coal consumer, which relies on it for 56% of its electricity.

China, now facing its worst energy crisis in a decade, made worse after Beijing halted imports of Australian coal over a diplomatic row, is venturing as far as Latin America, Africa, and Europe in its hunt for alternative suppliers.

Isidro Consunji, chairman of the Philippines’ biggest coal producer, Semirara Mining & Power Corp. which exports most of its production to China observed: “We are maxed out in terms of capacity. The price of coal has gone up four times in the last year. I think nobody in the world expected a situation like that.”

India, which obtains around 70% of its electrical generation from fossil fuels, is also teetering on the edge of a power crisis, with stocks of coal at unprecedentedly low levels and some states, like Rajasthan, have scheduled power cuts and shutdowns due to shortages.

With the winter heating season upon them, rising prices for scarce coal and other fossil sources have also driven European factory and household energy bills higher, forcing increasingly greater economic dependence upon Russia — most particularly upon natural gas supplies provided by that Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline allowed by Joe Biden.

So, in broad retrospect, perhaps consider that climate change caused by Rudolph’s methane afterburner and other hydrocarbon sources may not turn out, as claimed, to be humankind’s greatest threat after all.

  • CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."

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