Should the US Increase Its Use of Natural Gas?



PRO (yes)

The Natural Gas Supply Association stated the following in its article "Clean Natural Gas is Essential to Climate Change Success," available at www.ngsa.org (accessed Apr. 3, 2009):

"Natural gas is cleaner burning than other fossil fuels and has become the fuel of choice for utility companies looking to quickly build new sources of electricity production...

There is enough natural gas in the United States to heat millions of homes, fuel our factories, create electricity, and provide transportation for millions of Americans...

Congress should make more domestic natural gas available now—because clean natural gas will be essential to the success of any climate change legislation."

Apr. 3, 2009 - Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) 



Linda Cook, Executive Director of Gas & Power, Shell Trading, Global Solutions and Technology at Royal Dutch Shell, stated the following in her Dec. 2003 article "Natural Gas – Our Bridge to the Future," published in The Atlantic Monthly:

"Like many people, I am convinced that natural gas will be an important bridge to a cleaner, lower-carbon energy future. It may take 20 years or more before alternative sources of power or heat, like solar energy, become competitive. In the meantime, demand for electricity will have nearly doubled and we will need a clean, affordable fuel to meet this growth. This is where gas will be critical in bridging the gap. Oil will however, continue to meet the growing demand for transport fuels for the foreseeable future, with gas a promising source of hydrogen in cars if fuel cells replace conventional engines.

Why is gas the bridge? Because it is convenient, cost competitive, relatively abundant, and the cleanest burning fossil fuel."

Dec. 2003 - Linda Cook 



Robert A. Hefner III, founder and CEO of GHK company, a natural gas exploration and production firm, stated the following in his Spring 2008 article "The Age of Gases," published in American Clean Skies:

"[C]ivilization as we know it is to the point of no longer being able to resist the next great energy transition, one as fundamental as the 19th – century transition from wood to coal and the 20th – century transition to oil. It is my belief that the 21st century's transition to smarter distribution and more energy efficient technologies will be fueled principally by natural gas.

As it stands, coal and oil are at the heart of our current energy problem, and natural gas is primed to provide the principal solution. Solar and wind energy are also excellent solutions, but will be unable to become a principal source of energy over the next 30 years...

Natural gas can be, and should be, a principal fuel for the world's long-term energy solution, especially considering that it produces some 50 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than coal and up to 25 percent less than gasoline. Natural gas should never be included with coal and oil as just another 'fossil fuel,' because coal and oil are the problem and natural gas is part of the solution."

Spring 2008 - Robert A. Hefner, III 



Irma S. Russell, JD, Professor of Law at the National Energy-Environmental Law & Policy Institute at the University of Tulsa, and Justin Scroggs, JD, MS, Associate Landman with the Chesapeake Energy Corporation stated the following in their June 2008 article "Natural Gas: Today's Alternative Fuel?," published in the American Bar Association's Energy Committee Newsletter:

"Natural gas is the fastest growing fuel in the United States. Considering the lower levels of CO2 and other emissions resulting from natural gas, it creates less concern for global climate change (GCC) than coal or oil making it the most environmentally attractive fossil fuel. Nine hundred of the next one thousand power plants in the United States will use natural gas. It is also becoming more popular as a transportation fuel with manufacturers such as Honda manufacturing compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and more gas stations starting to carry CNG (especially in California)...

Fossil fuels can also be integrated with renewables. For example, Victorville II, a hybrid solar/natural gas power plant that is being built in California, will supplement its natural gas generation with solar electricity. Natural gas power plants can be used to supplement wind energy when the wind isn't blowing. By integrating fossil fuels with renewable energy, fossil fuel energy can be slowly phased out as it becomes more costly while renewable energy is increased as it becomes more cost efficient...

As energy consumption continues to increase, global climate change and other factors make natural gas a viable transitional fuel for reducing CO2 and other harmful emissions and bridging the gap in energy need as technology and markets for renewable fuels develop."

June 2008 - Irma S. Russell, JD 
Justin Scroggs, JD, MS 



Aubrey K. McClendon, Chairman and CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corporation and Chairman of the American Clean Skies Foundation, stated in his July 30, 2008 testimony before the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming hearing "What's Cooking with Gas: The Role of Natural Gas in Energy Independence and Global Warming Solutions," available at the Global Change website:

"I believe natural gas can and should be the driving force for how this Congress can take bold action to free our country from the death grip of high prices for imported oil, thereby improving our economy, enhancing national security and helping the environment...

[W]e don't need a new fuel, we don't need new engine technology, we don't need hundreds of billions of dollars. All you have to do is modify or replace today's internal combustion engines that run on gasoline and diesel and replace them with an internal combustion engine that runs on natural gas. And that's natural gas that costs less than half the price of gasoline, is more than two-thirds cleaner, and best of all, is produced right here at home in America, and we are proving to skeptics everyday that there is plenty of it...

I believe U.S. natural gas producers can increase supplies by 5% per year for at least the next decade and that assumes there is no more access to public lands and waters than there is today. So that means there's plenty of natural gas to burn to make electricity, plenty of natural gas to heat our homes and to make chemicals and plastics and there's plenty of natural gas available to begin the conversion of our transportation fleet from dirty, expensive, imported oil to clean-burning, affordable, abundant, American natural gas."

July 30, 2008 - Aubrey K. McClendon 



CON (no)

The Natural Resources Defense Council stated the following in its Oct. 2008 article "Finding the Balance: The Role of Natural Gas in America's Energy Future," available at www.nrdc.org:

"[N]atural gas is a finite fossil fuel and cannot be relied upon as a long-term, low-cost source of energy or as a solution to global warming. While generating electricity with efficient natural gas combined cycle units produces 60 percent less carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour than conventional coal-fired power plants, even these emission levels are too high in relation to America's need to reduce emissions 80 percent or more by mid-century in order to prevent dangerous global warming...

A National Renewable Electricity Standard requiring utilities to increase sales of power from renewable sources can significantly reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation without relying on increased use of natural gas."

Oct. 2008 - Natural Resources Defense Council 



Julian Darley, MSc, Founder and former Director of the Post Carbon Institute, stated the following in his July 12, 2003 article, "When Markets Fail: America Leaps Off the Gas Cliff Without a Parachute," available at the From The Wilderness website:

"Gas is hard to move except by pipeline. That means getting it from Canada, since Mexico is now a net gas importer (and likely to remain so till 2019, according to the DOE). The trouble is that Canadian production is also declining. That leaves only the hard way: shipping LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) mainly, from Trinidad at them moment, and soon from Africa and beyond, which is a costly and complex operation, for which the US presently has woefully insufficient infrastructure. What is more, these distant sources are subject to depletion too, and not a few political instabilities...

[M]ore drilling, allied with free market deregulation and greed, will get America still further into a black hole, from which it looks decreasingly likely that it can escape. A stark assessment of US gas reserves may help the American, and indeed Canadian, public to understand that both the long and short term solutions involve using less energy all round, with the focus being on using less natural gas and oil."

July 12, 2003 - Julian Darley, MSc 



Alan Nogee, Director of the Clean Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), stated the following in a Jan. 7, 2005 letter "Proposals for Natural Gas Supply and Demand Conference," submitted to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, available at the Union Of Concerned Scientists website:

"Relying primarily on supply-side options could take years to deliver new gas production in significant quantities and cause irreversible harm to some of our nation's most environmentally sensitive areas. Increasing supplies by expanding imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would make the United States more dependent on some of the same OPEC countries we are now dependent on for oil, and could create significant new security risks for millions of Americans living in highly populated areas...

UCS believes that a national renewable electricity standard [RES] is the cornerstone of any comprehensive policy approach to overcome market barriers and stimulate large-scale renewable energy development. A national RES can diversify our energy supply with clean, domestic resources. It will help reduce natural gas demand and prices, and provide a host of other economic, environmental, and security benefits."

Jan. 7, 2005 - Alan Nogee 



David Morris, PhD, Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, stated the following in his Oct. 9, 2008 article "How T. Boone Pickens' Energy Plan Just Got Killed," available at www.ilsr.org:

"Transforming our transportation fleet to natural gas will require massive investments in new engines and new fueling systems... So after 15-20 years and the expenditure of tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars we would then have a transportation system still... dependent on a fossil fuel whose life expectancy is not much longer than oil's...

Instead of converting part of our transportation system to natural gas, only to have to then convert it again to renewable fuels, we should convert the transportation system to electricity, and make that electricity increasingly renewable as solar and wind power expand.

Electric vehicles have important advantages over natural gas (or gasoline) powered cars. They are more efficient. They are quiet. They generate no tailpipe emissions."

Oct. 9, 2008 - David Morris, PhD 



Jonathan G. Dorn, PhD, Research Associate at the Earth Policy Institute, stated the following in his Nov. 2008 article "Run Cars on Green Electricity, Not Natural Gas," available at the Mother Earth News website:

"Having a fleet of natural gas–powered vehicles (NGVs) would simply replace U.S. dependence on foreign oil with a dependence on natural gas, another fossil fuel. The United States has scarcely 3 percent of the world's proved natural gas reserves, yet even without the increased demand that would result from an NGV fleet, the country already consumes nearly a quarter of the world's natural gas. At current rates of consumption, U.S. proved reserves would only meet national demand for another nine years...

Just like oil, natural gas is a finite, nonrenewable resource. This means that switching to a fleet of NGVs would be at best a short-term fix. As natural gas becomes more difficult to obtain and more costly, a fleet of NGVs and the 20,000 or so natural gas refueling stations that would be required to support them would simply be abandoned...

Choosing natural gas to power our vehicles would send the United States down the same expensive and inefficient path that created our addiction to foreign oil and our dependence on a resource that will ultimately run out."

Nov. 2008 - Jonathan G. Dorn, PhD