Read my latest response on the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to the question, “Should Congress strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions?”
The current debate about allowing EPA to regulate carbon emissions or encouraging Congress to act in its stead is a significant and heated one. However, we believe there are more effective and pragmatic ways of reducing carbon emissions than government mandates, regardless of which branch of government is issuing them. For example, using America’s most reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly fossil fuel, natural gas, and using it as efficiently as possible, can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
To that end, government policies that promote the increased use of natural gas are the most effective way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency. And because natural gas is domestically abundant—more than 97 percent of the natural gas we use comes from North America—it contributes to our energy security as well.
The fact is that, for four decades, natural gas residential and commercial customers have been leading the way in energy efficiency and carbon emission reductions. For example, the number of residential households using natural gas increased from 38 million in 1970 to 66 million today — an increase of more than 70 percent — yet aggregate residential consumption over that time has remained essentially flat. That is because residential natural gas users have cut their natural gas use, per household, by about 40 percent. This decline in residential gas usage per household is due to better insulated homes, more efficient appliances and conservation/efficiency programs that are supported by natural gas utilities.
This remarkable success in both reducing natural gas usage on a per-household basis and increasing appliance efficiency should be considered when crafting a national energy strategy. An effective course of action would be to continue to support these successful approaches and encourage other innovative ways to promote conservation.
We believe that natural gas could, and should, be used as a tool to improve environmental quality and energy efficiency. An approach to reducing emissions that is focused on appliance efficiency standards, building codes, and utility-supported conservation/efficiency programs has a proven track record for residential and commercial natural gas customers.
Let’s focus on what works for America, our environment and our future. We need to be talking about natural gas – domestic, abundant, affordable and available right now.