Richardson: Gas is Finally Getting the Support it Deserves
With promises for the "de-carbonization of energy," more state
involvement in Energy Department's initiatives, and "help for our
own people-domestic oil and gas producers," the new DOE Secretary
Bill Richardson sparked a standing ovation from approximately 400
attendees at the DOE-NARUC Natural Gas Conference in Pittsburgh
The Energy Department has "paid too much attention to the
Congress and not enough to the states," Richardson told the
gathering of state regulatory personnel and industry
representatives. He said he hoped to "beef up new ways to work with
state regulatory agencies," and draw them into the process for DOE
initiatives, including legislation to restructure the electric
industry. A key factor in electric industry changes and in meeting
environmental targets is the use of natural gas, the former
eight-term congressman from New Mexico and long-time member of the
House Energy and Mineral Resources subcommittee said.
DOE recognizes the "potential of natural gas to more cleanly
power our country." Its expanded use will lead to the
"de-carbonization of energy," Richardson said.
As DOE secretary, which he has been for six weeks now, Richard
said he would make sure DOE either "provides the stimulus" for
greater gas use or "gets out of the way" of the industry. He said
he fully supports legislation currently before Congress that would
set efficiency standards for energy appliances for federal use that
would consider the full fuel cycle, including emissions and energy
costs. "This is a solid first step to leveling the playing field."
Richardson said he wants to "reduce the barriers for supply and
demand of natural gas."
Also, Richardson left late last week for the Asian Pacific
Economic Cooperative Energy Industry conference, where he planned
to present an initiative to create open and competitive gas markets
and promote investment in gas infrastructure and development
projects to help rebuild Asian economies.
He said one of his main priorities in the next session of
congress would be creation of a new electric infrastructure. DOE is
in process of fine tuning its electric restructuring bill and is
starting to build state support. Richardson asked for help from
To deal with the issue of climate change Richardson wants to see
a significant portion of DOE's R&D budget devoted to natural gas
which he believes will serve as a bridge fuel to a cleaner
environment. An assistant secretary currently is doing a major
review of DOE's R&D budget with an eye to emphasizing
technologies aimed at clean power generation, he said.
Richardson said he also is looking at help for marginal well
producers, possibly in the form of tax relief, and at measures for
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