Natural Gas

Quick Facts

  • In a national survey, more voters chose natural gas (38%) as their preferred source of energy then wind (10%) and solar (27%) combined.
  • A 1% global move to natural gas from coal saves the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of an 11% increase in renewable energy.
  • Global natural gas consumption is predicted to grow by 1.7% per year through 2040, accorrding to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

This is an exciting time in our nation’s history as the U.S. is leading a global renaissance in natural gas development. Companies are employing new technologies and millions of American workers to make an enormous domestic supply of clean energy available for generations to come. Technological breakthroughs have made rich reserves of natural gas widely available, introducing price stability to once volatile natural gas markets and uncovering more than a 100-year supply. Annual natural gas production has risen by over 6.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) or 26% since 2005 while the price has decreased by 69% since 2008.

With the domestic increase in natural gas production and growing reserves, U.S. energy policy should no longer be based on the notion of scarcity, as it has been for several decades. For example, the Natural Gas Act of 1938 prevents approval of exports to countries without a free trade agreement (FTA). Exporting to countries without a FTA, currently about 96% of global LNG demand, requires approval by the Energy Secretary, a lengthy process which is stifling free trade in natural gas.

Natural gas has three characteristics that make it ideal for our energy future–it is abundant, affordable, and clean.

Abundant

The Colorado School of Mines Potential Gas Committee estimates U.S. natural gas potential resources at 2,384 Tcf, an increase of 27% since 2005. At current consumption rates, potential resources represent a 110 year supply that positions natural gas as a crucial component of our nation’s energy portfolio for the foreseeable future.  As recently as 2005, the United States was preparing to import natural gas as proved reserves ran low, but now companies are attempting to license and build export facilities. 

Affordable

America’s huge supply of natural gas has kept prices low, benefiting residential and commercial consumers. Natural gas prices have decreased by 69% since 2008, saving American families on their heating and electricity bills. According to IHS, households pocketed $1,200 in savings from low natural gas prices in 2012, and that number will rise to $2,000 by 2015.

Clean

As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas is playing an increasingly important role for reducing air and greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas produces about 95% fewer emissions of criteria pollutants and 50% fewer carbon emissions than coal. While policymakers are locked in debate over regulating CO2 and other greenhouse gases that have no direct health impacts but potential climate change impact, there is no dispute that emissions of sulfur, mercury, and lead can have profound negative public health and environmental impacts. When it comes to these sources of known air pollutants, natural gas emits effectively none.

Therefore, policies that intentionally place limits on the development of American natural gas are counterproductive to the clean air goals of our country. Federal policies that limit public lands access and EPA regulations focused only on emissions from production while ignoring the full lifecycle air quality benefits of natural gas are constraining development, which inhibits further use of clean natural gas to power our economy.