Kristin Schrader Marcell Senate Energy Bill: Love It or Hate It?

Recently Dave Parker participated in the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to respond to their question, “Senate Energy Bill: Love It or Hate It?” Please take a moment to read his response posted below and visit the National Journal Energy Experts blog to view the comments from others in this respected group.

The American Gas Association (AGA) is pleased that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently approved legislation to support the development of U.S. natural gas resources along the Outer Continental Shelf, which will benefit consumers, the economy and the environment. Specifically, the committee approved an amendment offered by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) that will provide significant new access in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico by opening this area beyond 45 miles of the Florida coast for oil and natural gas development.

The Dorgan amendment also included the “Destin Dome” natural gas discovery, which lies approximately 25 miles south of Pensacola and is expected to produce anywhere from 110 to 165 billion cubic feet of gas every year for the next 20 years. Access to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which is known to have vast resources of natural gas that are close to existing pipelines and other vital infrastructure, will not only help supply more domestic natural gas to consumers but will also ultimately help make America more energy secure.

AGA was also encouraged that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee legislation included biogas as a qualified renewable for the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).  Biogas can be sustainably produced as a product of our waste-producing (landfills, agricultural processes and animal farms) lifestyle.  This efficient process also captures methane that otherwise would have entered into the atmosphere.

And while not included in the Senate Energy Committee’s recent energy legislation, AGA will continue to educate policymakers about a recently released National Academies’ (NAS) report to Congress, which found that the Department of Energy should consider changing its measurement of appliance energy efficiency to one based on the full-fuel cycle. This measurement takes into account the amount of energy produced and lost from the point of production to the final point of use. This more accurate measurement would provide consumers with more complete information on energy use and environmental impacts.  For example, 70 percent of the total amount of fuels used in producing, generating and transmitting electricity is lost by the time that electricity reaches a customer. By contrast, producing and delivering natural gas directly loses only about 10 percent of its usable energy.

The NAS study also supports the “carbon footprint labeling” provisions championed by AGA that were recently included in the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation.  These provisions would expand the existing Federal Trade Commission EnergyGuide labeling program for appliances to include carbon footprint information.

AGA looks forward to working with Congress as it considers energy and climate change legislation that strives to improve our environment and energy security, while also encouraging the increased use of clean, abundant, domestic natural gas. As the cleanest fossil fuel, emitting only one carbon atom when burned, natural gas can play a major part in reducing carbon emissions.

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