White House Turns Eye to Working Gas Group
After months of being bedeviled by high oil prices, the White
House has turned its attention to developing an interagency working
group to coordinate government's efforts to help industry achieve a
30 Tcf natural gas market by the 2010-2015 period.
"It kind of got off to a slow start because of the oil price
problem, but now they're turning to it.....Their charter is to look
at the demand and supply of natural gas for the near-term future to
see if we have the resources and infrastructure in place to address
the expected need," said Drew Malcolm, a spokesman for the
Department of Energy (DOE).
The federal government's action is in response to a study by the
National Petroleum Council (NPC) in December, which called for the
creation of the working group under the auspices of the White
House's National Economic Council (NEC).
The NEC working group should create a strategy at the highest
level for natural gas in the nation's energy portfolio, the NPC
study proposed. It will be "at least six months" before the group
unveils such a strategy, Malcolm said.
So far, government agencies that are members of the working
group include the Environmental Protection Agency, Treasury
Department, Agriculture Department, Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission and DOE, he noted. The working group also "would like to
have industry representation."
Among its key objectives, the working group "wants to look at
standardizing the environmental review process" for various gas
projects to "reduce delays, overlaps" between federal agencies and
between federal and state agencies, according to Malcolm. The group
also plans to study gas pipeline access to determine whether
there's sufficient existing capacity to deliver production to
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