This week, AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy participated in the National Journal’s Energy Insiders blog to respond to their question, “Can Congress Pass An Energy Bill?” His response is posted below and you can also visit the National Journal Energy Insiders blog to view the entire comments thread.
“From Congressional hearing rooms to corporate board rooms, I have worked with leaders from many different backgrounds to forge consensus and address problems facing individual communities or our nation as a whole. One of the key factors to success is agreeing on a set of goals. As we look at enacting an energy policy in our nation, I believe we have achieved consensus on our destination. Any legislation must meet the criteria of: (1) boosting our economy through job creation and a reduction in the cost of energy, (2) improving our environment by decreasing emissions, and (3) increasing our energy security by reducing our reliance on foreign energy. The measure also has to be achievable; setting benchmarks that are unrealistic benefits no one.
Energy efficiency is an area where we can achieve our mutual goals and progress is already taking place. The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency measure presents a real, achievable route to saving money for consumers, increasing American energy security and reducing emissions. We need to ensure that it creates a framework for all available cost-effective measures so that we do not need to choose between our environment and our economy.
Of the energy options available, natural gas is one of the most efficient due to the way in which it is produced, delivered and used in homes, buildings, industry and transportation. America’s natural gas delivery system is extraordinarily efficient with approximately 92 percent of the natural gas produced at the wellhead being delivered to customers as usable energy. Highly efficient natural gas applications for space heating and water heating units and combined heat and power technologies are available today and can deliver immediate energy productivity gains for homes, businesses and factories alike. Utilities increased their investment in natural gas efficiency programs to nearly $958 million in 2011 which resulted in total savings of more than $300 million for natural gas customers in the United States last year – about $107 per household – and offset 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Working alongside renewables and energy efficiency efforts, our domestic abundance of natural gas provides an incredible opportunity to deliver the essential energy that will help drive economic growth while protecting the environment. We are proud to stand with organizations from all sides of the political and economic spectrum who realize the potential for our nation through more efficient use of natural gas. Organizations like the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Alliance to Save Energy, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the Western Governors’ Association have all recently produced studies adding to the growing chorus of advocates for greater use of natural gas and the benefits it provides.
Still, more progress can be made. The All-Of-The-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act of 2013 (S. 1199) by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) is among a series of potential amendments to Shaheen-Portman. It was crafted as a replacement for the component of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act requiring the phase out of fossil fuels in federal buildings by 2030 – Section 433.This compromise amendment brings together the energy efficiency community, utilities and industry, provides the best opportunity to both become law and achieve the stated goals of the Energy Independence and Security Act.
Section 433 was developed before we had the technology and experience to efficiently and affordably access our nation’s vast abundance of clean natural gas. This fundamental shift in the energy marketplace offers an incredible opportunity to deliver energy value to American homes and businesses, fuel a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing, and provide a cleaner, less expensive option for vehicles. Natural gas is the foundation fuel for governments at every level at a time when they must find ways to reduce their bills, reduce their consumption of energy and reduce their environmental footprint.
America’s natural gas utilities are delivering the promises of natural gas while promoting energy efficiency and working alongside other clean and renewable energy sources. We look forward to being part of the many collaborative efforts required to realize the vision of a robust, secure and efficient energy future for our nation.”