As part of a panel of Energy & Environment experts for the National Journal, PACE weighs in this week on how the U.S. can best use its natural gas resources. You can read and share the piece online here.
Natural gas is an abundant resource within our borders and, like coal, one we should be fully developing to help meet America’s growing energy needs.
Some observers incorrectly assume that natural gas and coal maintain an adversarial relationship. Coal’s adversarial relationship exists with those who seek to craft overly burdensome regulations to constrict coal’s role in our nation’s energy portfolio. These policies that seek to replace coal-fueled electricity with natural gas and other alternative fuel sources are expensive, unreliable, and ultimately weaken our nation’s energy infrastructure.
Additionally, over the past six weeks, natural gas prices have risen more than 20 percent—while coal prices have remained stable. This same story of price volatility recurs every winter, and businesses and families, especially the most vulnerable, are faced with soaring, unpredictable energy costs at a time when affordable heat is most needed.
The nation will continue to see upward pressure on natural gas prices as its use as a feedstock for the chemical industry increases. Just this past week, the American Chemistry Council predicted that chemicals exports will grow 45 percent over the next five years.
Additionally, natural gas distribution is hampered by a grossly underdeveloped pipeline system—a significant barrier to widespread, reliable natural gas use in this country.
On the other hand, coal-fueled electricity is reliable, abundant, and becoming more and more clean. In fact, the industry has invested $110 billion dollars to achieve emissions reductions of more than 90 percent and still provides more than 40 percent of America’s electricity.
Natural gas will remain an important resource in America’s energy future, and we should continue to pursue its development and use; but not at the exclusion of safe, clean, reliable, abundant coal. We can all agree that America would be setting itself on a dangerous path if it did not continue pursuing a diverse energy portfolio, one that truly includes all of the energy resources our nation has available.