Dave Parker participated in the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to respond to their question, “Kerry-Boxer: Worth The Wait?” and he was asked to provide a follow-up comment. His follow-up is posted below and you can visit the National Journal Energy Experts blog to view the entire thread.
Senators Kerry and Graham’s recent opinion editorial, “Yes we Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation),” (October 11, 2009), and show of bipartisanship ignited thoughts that consensus on comprehensive climate change legislation this year might yet be possible. Admirable as that goal may be, we should not hold our breath.
Regardless of how likely or unlikely it is that Congress will pass climate change legislation this year or next, or the year after, one thing is clear – climate change and the challenges and opportunities it presents are real and will be with us for some time.
Fortunately, the same can be said of natural gas. Natural gas gets short shrift in the national debate on how to address climate change even though it’s the cleanest of all fossil fuels, containing just one carbon atom. It’s abundant – study after study shows the nation easily has a 100 year supply, and that number is likely to grow. It’s domestic – 97 percent of the gas we use is produced in North America. And it’s efficient – over the past 40 years, while the number of natural gas customers has doubled, actual gas use and greenhouse gas emissions have remained essentially flat.
Even with those incredibly positive and unarguable facts to support it, natural gas too often takes a backseat to other traditional fuels that do not possess the immediate climate-change and efficiency benefits it does – it can benefit us right now, not tomorrow or 10 years down the road. Even senators Kerry and Graham have managed to ignore the benefits of natural gas and have instead stated emphatically (in their bipartisan opinion) that “The United States should aim to be the Saudi Arabia of clean coal.”
The United States should not aspire to be the Saudi Arabia of clean coal . . . or nuclear, or renewables, or natural gas for that matter. The United States should aim to be what it is, and what it is counted on being, a leader among nations. We have the wherewithal and the technology to use all of our many abundant resources and should not shackle ourselves to any singular fuel or aspiration.
The United States and Congress have a tough road ahead, one that is not likely to culminate in a Copenhagen solution. To meet the energy challenges we face now and in the future, we will need our best thinkers to develop the best plans—plans that make full use, and best use, or every fuel available, including natural gas, nuclear, renewables and even clean coal. Any climate change legislation we pass should be mindful of that.