If politicians expect clean-burning natural gas to relieve their coal-fired power generation emissions woes, they need to give gas producers greater access to lands on which they can drill, said the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA).
The association cautioned that any new U.S. policy to restrict carbon emissions could drive up demand for natural gas "at a time when resources are artificially constrained by existing federal access policies."
Heating, electricity and manufacturing customers of the nation's gas industry could be forced to pay more for the fuel because of costs resulting from drilling access restrictions, NGSA President Skip Horvath said Wednesday at the United States Energy Association's (USEA) third annual State of the Energy Industry briefing at the National Press Club in Washington. Horvath joined a panel focusing on gas-related issues facing the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress.
"Policymakers should be careful to ensure the needs of American consumers [are met] by not inadvertently putting more upward pressure on natural gas prices," Horvath said. "NGSA members believe the existing U.S. climate policy of voluntary efficiency gains is working, and we look forward to being at the table as congressional leaders begin to introduce and consider a variety of further steps that might be taken."
Horvath asserted that even existing air quality regulations will drive gas to greater prominence in the nation's fuel mix. "It is crucial that we not allow ourselves to rest on the access accomplishments of the last [Republican-controlled] Congress, especially so if further emissions regulations are ultimately enacted."
Horvath predicted that renewal of the debate about carbon emissions and global warming could drive up natural gas prices. "With that in mind, and because natural gas has always had broad bipartisan support due to its environmental contributions, NGSA believes it is a crucial time to remind federal policymakers that maximizing these contributions has to go hand in hand with additional access to the most economic resources," Horvath said.
Further, he warned that Congress should not crimp the nation's gas supply by revoking tax and royalty relief for high-risk production or penalizing Outer Continental Shelf leaseholders. These, he said, would "represent a disincentive for ongoing investment and threaten the gains we are witnessing in record domestic rigs and natural gas well completions."
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