In the wake of the recent election results, President Obama made some interesting comments regarding the future of energy policy in the U.S.
“We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country,” the president said in response to a question from the White House press gallery. He continued: “Are we doing everything we can to develop those?”
We agree with the president about the promise of U.S. natural gas resources, for a number of reasons. First, there’s a lot of it. According to several independent studies, the U.S. natural gas resource base can likely cover about 100 years of demand at the current rate with existing technology.
Second, it’s a cleaner-burning fuel. When used to generate electricity, it can reduce CO2 emissions about 60 percent versus coal.
Third, developing natural gas resources can power economic growth. The natural gas industry contributed $385 billion to our nation’s economy in 2008 alone, and it is one of few sectors where jobs have been created. According to an IHS Global Insight study, the natural gas industry supported more than 2.8 million jobs in the U.S. in 2008.
Bill Colton, our vice president for Corporate Strategic Planning, talked about the potential for natural gas in a recent interview: “If there is any kind of major trend, we think it’s going to be a shift toward more natural gas. Natural gas is available. It’s the most efficient way to generate massive power. It’s affordable. We already have gas infrastructure in place…” You can read more of Bill’s comments on the New York Times’ blog.
But to answer the president’s question – no, we as a nation are not yet doing everything we can to develop our natural gas resources. We need to let natural gas compete with other electricity feedstocks without setting mandates or preferences; we need to ensure that access is available to U.S natural gas resources; and we need to maintain stable, predictable regulatory frameworks that allow for long-term natural gas investment.
I hope that lawmakers from both sides are listening to the president’s words, so that the U.S. can reap the benefits of natural gas for decades to come.