U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson (R-PA) is considering introducing a bill that would bar new construction of natural gas-fired power generation facilities and would establish a seven-member independent commission to undertake a “comprehensive analysis” of gas supply and demand issues in the United States.

This is “still a work in progress;…it’s very preliminary,” said Peterson press aide Paul Feenstra last week. There “still are details that need to be resolved” before deciding “if or when” to introduce the bill, he noted.

According to a draft of the bill, the legislation would not affect gas-fired generation plants that currently are in service, but it would prevent new gas-fired facilities from going into operation once the bill is signed into law.

The draft also calls for an independent commission to report its findings to the president and Congress within nine months of the enactment of the bill, and recommend federal actions that would achieve a balance between gas supply and demand “at a level” that would provide residential and commercial consumers with gas at “reasonable and stable prices,” and would “accommodate long-term maintenance and growth of domestic natural gas-dependent industrial, manufacturing and commercial enterprises.”

The commission would be charged with analyzing gas supply and demand in the United States during the 10 years prior to and after the enactment of the legislation, according to the draft.

Peterson’s proposal has some similarities to an amendment that was approved as part of the Senate energy bill earlier this month, which would require the secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) to report to Capitol Hill on the gas market. The report would be due within six months after enactment of a Senate energy bill, and would provide a comprehensive analysis of gas supply and demand for the period between 2004 and 2015 (see NGI, June 16).

The independent commission as envisioned in the draft of the House bill would be made up of three members appointed by the president, two members of the Senate (a Republican and Democrat), and two members of the House. The appointments would be made within 45 days of the bill being signed into law. The chairperson of the independent panel would be designated by the president, in consultation with Congress. The chairperson could hire staff, or ask federal agencies to detail staff members to work on the commission.

The independent commission would have the authority to hold hearings, take testimony and issue subpoenas, according to the draft.

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