Trump Burns Natural Gas Bridge… Film at 11.

Guest batting practice by David Middleton

Liberal arts types spouting nonsense about energy and climate science are like batting practice pitchers.

From the High Country News, and the author is clearly high on something.

Trump’s methane rule rollback burns the natural gas bridge

Without emissions regulations, the ‘clean’ fossil fuel is as dirty as coal.

Jonathan Thompson PERSPECTIVE Sept. 19, 2018

This summer’s statistics on electricity use and generation included a significant gem: Over the last 12 months, power generation from coal has dropped to a three-decade low. That was party-worthy news for the climate, for air quality, for folks who live near power plants and for the natural gas industry, which is partly responsible for coal’s decline. Just days later, however, the Trump administration crashed the shindig, causing a major buzzkill.

No, the president’s attempts to revive coal have not succeeded. But on Sept. 18, the Interior Department snuffed out new rules aimed at lowering the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions, just days after the Environmental Protection Agency started the process of euthanizing its own methane regulations. This is a bummer not only for the planet, but also for the natural gas industry’s efforts to portray its product as the clean fossil fuel.


High Country News

Jonathan Thompson is a freelance journalist with a B.A. in modern history.  He clearly is clueless about natural gas production, the energy industry, running a business or anything else that is functionally useful.

Natural gas has an Achilles’ heel: When it is sucked from the earth and processed and moved around, leaks occur. The main ingredient in natural gas is methane, a greenhouse gas with 86 times the short-term warming potential of carbon dioxide.


When the Obama administration proposed rules that would make the oil and gas industry clamp down on methane emissions, it was a gift, not a punishment. Not only would people and the climate benefit; the natural gas industry would be able to sell itself as a clean fuel and a bridge to the future.

The Obama-era rules are similar to those passed in Colorado in 2014, with the industry’s support. Far from being onerous, they simply require companies to regularly look for and repair leaks and to replace faulty equipment. Some companies already do this on their own…

“Leaks” are fixed if it makes economic sense.  A rule requiring the repair of “leaks” which doesn’t make economic sense, would lead to gas wells and pipelines being shut in.  The methane rule was not only a punishment, it was a moronic punishment that could only be conjured up by people with no functional utility to society.  Only an idiot would think that businesses need the government to tell them fix things when the repairs make economic sense.

After whining about Trump burning the bridge, the modern historian suggests that “maybe the time has come to let that bridge burn”…

Meanwhile, the death of Interior’s methane rule on Tuesday will add another half-million tons of pollutants to the air. In the process, it will erode the pillars of the once-vaunted natural gas bridge.

Then again, maybe the time has come to let that bridge burn. We get 70 times more electricity from solar sources now than we did in 2008, and renewables hold 11 percent of the total share of power generation. Perhaps just as significant is a less-noticed fact: Electricity consumption in the U.S. has held steady for the last decade, even dropping during some years, despite a growing population, a burgeoning economy…

setting aside the fact that fossil fuels account for 62.7% of our electricity generation, while solar, with its 70-fold increase since 2008, only accounts for 1.3%…

What “burgeoning economy”???

Obama was the first president in US history to complete two terms in office, during which real GDP growth never reached 3%.  Since 1985, US electricity consumption has increased in every year in which the economy grew by 3% or better.  During the 8 years of the Obama maladministration, real annual GDP growth averaged 1.9% and electricity consumption declined by an annual average of 0.1%.

 Terawatt-hours ΔGDP ΔTWh
1998                      3,856 4.9% 3.8%
1999                      3,936 4.8% 2.1%
1987                      2,772 4.5% 3.6%
1997                      3,716 4.5% 1.4%
1996                      3,663 4.4% 2.7%
2003                      4,138 4.4% 0.6%
1992                      3,284 4.4% 0.4%
1994                      3,459 4.1% 1.6%
1988                      2,914 3.8% 5.1%
2004                      4,232 3.3% 2.3%
2005                      4,323 3.2% 2.2%
2000                      4,052 3.0% 3.0%
1986                      2,676 2.9% 0.7%
1989                      3,155 2.8% 8.3%
2014                      4,363 2.7% 0.8%
2010                      4,394 2.6% 4.5%
1993                      3,405 2.6% 3.7%
2013                      4,330 2.6% 0.5%
2006                      4,331 2.6% 0.2%
2017                      4,282 2.5% -1.5%
1995                      3,567 2.2% 3.1%
2002                      4,112 2.1% 3.2%
2007                      4,432 2.0% 2.3%
2015                      4,349 2.0% -0.3%
2016                      4,348 1.9% 0.0%
2011                      4,363 1.6% -0.7%
2012                      4,311 1.5% -1.2%
1991                      3,271 1.2% 1.2%
1990                      3,233 0.7% 2.5%
2009                      4,206 0.3% -4.2%
2001                      3,984 0.2% -1.7%
2008                      4,390 -2.7% -0.9%

Sources: BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

A real burgeoning economy and rising electricity consumption

The US economy is on track to better than 3% growth this year…


The US EIA forecasts that electricity demand will rise from 2018-2050.

U.S. primary energy consumption 2017-2050. “Other renewable energy” includes wind, offshore wind, solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal and several other bit players. US EIA.

With natural gas leading the way…

Projected mix of generation technologies (2017-2050). Naturally, my bet is on “high oil and gas resource and technology.” “Renewables” includes hydroelectric. US EIA.

Eroding the pillars of the once-vaunted natural gas bridge

There is no evidence that leakage from natural gas drilling, production and transportation operations is significantly contributing to the rise in atmospheric methane over the past few years.

Ruling things out

The post-2007 uptick in global methane levels roughly coincides with the rapid deployment of natural gas “fracking” in the United States, making fugitive emissions a logical suspect. But attempts to verify the connection have produced counter-intuitive results, according to Stefan Schwietzke, a methane expert from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (a NOAA-University of Colorado Boulder partnership).

Schwietzke’s research suggests that methane emissions from fossil fuels are higher than countries’ self-reported inventories suggest, and they may even be increasing. And yet, he explained via email, methane derived from fossil fuels is enriched with carbon-13—a rare, heavy isotope of carbon—and air samples show that the amount of carbon-13-flavored methane is dropping worldwide.

Methane concentrations (dark lines) and the amount of carbon-13 in the methane (light lines) from 1998-2014 for four latitude zones: Northern and Southern Hemisphere tropics (green and orange) and Northern and Southern high latitudes (blue and gray).  Starting in 2007, methane concentrations in all latitude zones began to rise, but the amount of methane carrying “heavy” carbon-13 started to fall.  NOAA graphic, based on data from Nisbet et al., 2016, provided by Martin Manning.

The drop seems to rule out fossil fuel emissions, wildfires, or biomass cook stoves as the reason for the post-2007 methane surge. All those sources of methane, to a greater or lesser extent, are enriched in carbon-13, not depleted.

It’s a counterintuitive finding: methane from fossil fuels is higher than we thought, but it seems to be making up a smaller share of total global emissions. In his email, Schwietzke wrote, “The decline in the 13-C isotope of methane in the atmosphere indicates that microbial sources must have an increasing share of total methane emissions globally.”


As if that’s not enough, the 63% of the reduction in US CO2 was due to switching from coal to natural gas.

CO2 Emission Reduction (million metric tons)
Natural Gas Non-Carbon
2006 36 27
2007 65 -9
2008 65 23
2009 112 90
2010 123 64
2011 147 130
2012 268 112
2013 226 150
2014 232 164
2015 350 177
2016 383 240 Total
Sum 2,007 1,168 3,175
% of Total 63% 37%

Source: US EIA

To the extent that natural gas is a bridge fuel, the pillars are stronger than ever.

A bridge to nowhere

Natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to nuclear power, particularly fusion power, is a concept worth exploring.  Natural gas as a bridge to unicorns is “a bridge to nowhere.

I think this is my new favorite graph… And I have a lot of graphs.

If there actually was a need to fight climate change and modern historians were serious about fighting it, they would be pursuing an N2N strategy (natural gas to nuclear).

The fastest, most cost effective, way to reduce carbon emissions would be to transition from coal to natural gas and nuclear power.

Real Clear Energy

Unless modern historians are incapable of basic arithmetic, I have to assume that their true motive isn’t saving the world from climate change.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

–Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change

Film at 11

I couldn’t find any film of President Trump burning bridges… But I do have a favorite burning bridges film…


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John Endicott
September 21, 2018 11:17 am

“We get 70 times more electricity from solar sources now than we did in 2008”

“solar, with its 70-fold increase since 2008, only accounts for 1.3%”

which means that is was slightly less than 0.02% in 2008. It’s easy to have a 70-fold increase when your starting point is barely above zero.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  John Endicott
September 22, 2018 3:02 am

Imagine the percentage increase from zero to 0.02%!

Tom Halla
September 21, 2018 11:18 am

The primary purpose of the “methane rule” was to inhibit growth in production, not “pollution reduction”. The green blob opposes anything that might actually work to sustain industrial society.

September 21, 2018 11:56 am


Need some more background about the real δ13C levels found in the atmosphere, the percentages up and down are rather confusing…

If I remember well, δ13C levels of methane are around -40 per mil δ13C, thus -39 is “heavier” in 13C and -41 is “lighter” in 13C… In this case “heavier” and “lighter are quite relative.

Do you have figures about the δ13C levels of CH4 from facking, compared to direct wells and biogenic CH4?

Reply to  David Middleton
September 21, 2018 1:34 pm

Thanks a lot David,

Very interesting graph!

Bruce Cobb
September 21, 2018 12:07 pm

In addition to his other idiocies, Numnutz Thompson seems to believe that CO2 is “dirty”.

September 21, 2018 12:10 pm

This happens when you begin to believe your own lies. A dangerous habit.

Steve O
September 21, 2018 12:21 pm

All these discussions miss the point. The chemicals — oil, methane, natural gas, and coal — are out there in the environment!

They need to be cleaned up. We need to get these compounds out of the ground and… I don’t know… incinerate them somewhere.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 21, 2018 4:49 pm

Clarke was a brilliant comedian.😂

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
September 21, 2018 4:52 pm


The Brit’s do have a talent for Pythonesque humor!

I endorse Jonathon Thompson for a job as a telephone sanitizer on the B Ark.

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 22, 2018 11:55 am

Except Clarke was a Kiwi.

Reply to  Steve O
September 21, 2018 12:44 pm
Lois Johnson
September 21, 2018 12:39 pm

David – it is so good to read something that makes good old common sense. Living in the now blue state of New Jersey where the state wants to be just like California, the nonsense is tiring. Too any “Jonathan Thompsons” teaching our students and legislating our laws. Thanks for the laughs!

J Mac
September 21, 2018 1:12 pm

Limiting atmospheric CO2 to 400 ppm is a non sequitur. The planetary biome is entirely dependent on abundant atmospheric CO2 gas, the essential plant food for all earthly flora. 400 ppm/vol is barely adequate. 1000ppm/vol is much better, for plant growth and drought tolerance!

Feed the Plants! Feed ‘Em!

Ernest Bush
Reply to  J Mac
September 21, 2018 8:37 pm

There’s a reason commercial greenhouses like to keep the CO2 levels around 1200-1600 ppm. It’s the optimum range for plant growth.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Ernest Bush
September 23, 2018 11:26 am

Yes, and I would point out that it is not that plant growth would be inhibited above 1600 ppm. It is just that other factors limit additional growth so that adding any more CO2 to the greenhouse adds cost without significantly improving yields. It’s the optimum from a cost-benefit point of view and depends on the value of the produce.

Now given that fossil fuel burning in all of history has raised CO2 by 130 ppm and we would need to add 790 ppm just to get to 1200 ppm, what are the prospects that we could ever get the atmosphere anywhere near the low end of commercial greenhouse operations? We need to find and burn 6 times the fossil fuels that we have burned up to now.

September 21, 2018 1:42 pm

modern historian = useful idiot

From Wikipedia: Useful idiot – “The term was originally used to describe non-Communists regarded as susceptible to Communist propaganda and manipulation.”

Reg Nelson
September 21, 2018 1:48 pm

“Obama was the first president in US history to complete two terms in office, during which real GDP growth never reached 3%.”

This was after Obama changed the way GDP was calculated, to try to improve his anemic economy. US GDP now includes R & D, artwork, and other intangible assets.

Obama did the same thing when he re-defined how “deportations” are calculated. Prior to his administration, deportation numbers were based on actual deportations. Under Obama, the numbers were estimated, including people turned back, but not processed, and people estimated to leave voluntarily.

Reply to  Reg Nelson
September 21, 2018 9:27 pm

Any Obama-administration changes in calculating GDP didn’t change the result much in his favor, as evidenced by the 2009-2016 average of 1.9% annual growth rate accomplishing a substantial reduction of unemployment. The previous 8 years had average annual growth rate of 1.8875% and a substantial increase of unemployment.

I remember during the Clinton administration when it was said that GDP needs to grow at an annual rate over 2% to decrease the unemployment rate. I remember from before then that annual growth rate of 3% can avoid excessive inflation and maintain low unemployment, and unemployment as low as 3% can be achieved without excessive inflation (before the inflation troubles of the early 1970s). And in Clinton’s first term, many economists doubted unemployment can be reduced below 4% without excessive inflation, and some economists said unemployment dropping below 5 or even 6 % would cause excessive inflation. Notably, 1993-2000 had average annual GDP growth of 3.8125% and lack of excessive inflation, with unemployment achieving a post-1975 low well below 4% that has yet to be improved upon.

Reply to  Reg Nelson
September 23, 2018 11:15 am

Economics is my subject:

What “burgeoning economy”???

had to look up “burgeoning” !

The economy grew at a 1.5% average
Real GDP rate under Obama
the last time I checked the revisions.

Of course you can’t blame him
for the two quarters of recession
in the first year of his first term.

Ignoring those first two quarters
is also better for comparison
with Trump who (so far) has no
recession quarters in his first
six quarters as President.

Here is a Obama versus Trump
comparison from
my economics blog
at the link below.

Trump is not leading the
great economic boom and
“best economy ever”
as he recently claimed
(his bragging
and “alternative facts”
are really getting
on my nerves
— he’s lucky the
horrible Dumbocrats
are much worse :

who has no reas

Obama was the first president in US history to complete two terms in office, during which real GDP growth never reached 3%. Since 1985, US electricity consumption has increased in every year in which the economy grew by 3% or better. During the 8 years of the Obama maladministration, real annual GDP growth averaged 1.9% and electricity consumption declined by an annual average of 0.1%.

Jim Whelan
September 21, 2018 2:28 pm

I don’t understand this requirement for any sort of “bridge”. Use whatever is economically most effective. This varies from place to place and is based on supply and transportation costs. We should get rid of all government incentives and disincentives. When coal and oil and gas “run out” or get too expensive to extract then movement will take place to nuclear and maybe even solar or wind but to until then. Any government planning or direction toward an unknown and unknowable future is destined to be a disaster.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 21, 2018 4:50 pm

“bridge to nowhere’, nice catch! Actually forgot that one.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 21, 2018 4:57 pm

why is wordpress refusing to accept their own login?

Rich Davis
Reply to  David Middleton
September 23, 2018 11:38 am

I’m fine with a bridge to unicorns as long as we only build the natural gas side of the bridge. And if we end up with a pier that supplies all our energy that’s fine too.

Gary Pearse
September 21, 2018 3:14 pm

David, GDP avged 1.9% and that includes the inflated “contribution” from bloated government. It’s a tough job to hold the American economy back from growing, but throwing billions out the door subsidizing Gang Green energy, Gobbels warming Research and tying industry up with punitive regs, bailing out Wall Street snake oil salesman, and making energy “necessarily” skyrocket, is a start!

September 21, 2018 5:00 pm

OK, wordpress has started their usually shit, refusing to accept their own login and not posting comments. Are they owned by googlefucks

September 21, 2018 5:02 pm

Why is wordpress dumping every other comment? Why have we got to enter our usename and password over and over and over and over?

Reply to  2hotel9
September 21, 2018 5:25 pm

They obviously just don’t like you.
No problem for me. (crap, no auto-fill here either)

Reply to  u.k.(us)
September 21, 2018 5:41 pm

I think WUWT has been hacked by the green scum, hence no edit or voting functions, and the need to re submit username & password every time.

Go on Anthony. A minor inconvenience. I’ll post regardless!

Reply to  HotScot
September 23, 2018 11:20 am

I write brilliant comments,
hit the Post Comment button,
and they end up printed as
discombobulated comments,
as if written by
an overactive six year old.
Wordpress is obviously altering
everything I write
and I demand an
FBI investigation !

Reply to  2hotel9
September 22, 2018 7:02 am

2hotel9, this site is under constant attack by commie-hackers. It takes strong effort just to keep it running under these conditions. This is the reality nowadays.

Reply to  beng135
September 22, 2018 7:36 am

Been seeing this at other sites which use wordpress, seems to be an issue with them, disqus was having same kind of issues a few months ago.

September 21, 2018 7:51 pm

“USA growth expected to reach 3% this year”

Inflation is at 2.7%. Is that growth worth reporting. Net result is that the lowest 50% of society loose. How fast are wages rising for that sector. With a trillion dollar budget deficit this year. Sounds like the same logic as global warming theory – circular. And the full effects of trade tariffs have not kicked in yet.

Reply to  David Middleton
September 22, 2018 4:06 pm

And the Labor participation rate has been increasing, meaning all those people who gave up looking for work back during Obama’s reign, are now finding jobs.

September 21, 2018 10:57 pm

“Liberal arts types spouting nonsense…” – is nonsense more palatable when delivered by certified technocrats and phDs?

September 22, 2018 6:49 am

The “methane rule” was ignorant to begin with — just empty virtue-signalling. Any gas company/power plant, etc, is ALREADY looking for and repairing leaks as a matter of good business practices.

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