Wall Street Journal Notes Some Democrats Give Tentative Support for Natural Gas

The Wall Street Journal published an article “Chief of U.S. Energy Regulator Gives Climate Endorsement to Natural Gas,” which describes how Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Richard Glick says increased use of natural gas can be beneficial for climate change. While the issue of climate change can be debated, Glick is correct to support the use of natural gas.

Writer Timothy Puko says government officials made positive statements about the role of natural gas in the energy mix last week during an energy conference.

Puko writes:

Industry officials have questioned whether the Biden administration’s commitment to cleaner fuels would hinder the development of gas-export terminals at a time when Europe wants more Western fuel as a bulwark against Russian aggression. But several times at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference in Houston this week, Washington officials have said gas has a place in the future energy mix.

Despite making repeated foolish statements prioritizing concerns about climate change over the war in Ukraine, as covered in Climate Realism articles here and here, even John Kerry had positive things to say about the use of natural gas.

FERC Chairman Glick said natural gas can be a positive for European countries that previously depended on Russian fuel, or coal.

“If you are going to export natural gas and it’s going to reduce coal-fired generation in Poland, for instance, that actually is a net-positive,” Mr. Glick said while speaking to reporters. “I’m just going to give you my personal opinion, which is that I think to the extent you’re replacing a dirtier fuel it actually is a positive for climate change.”

It is certainly far from clear that reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than increasing access to, and the affordability and reliability of, energy should be the focus of energy policy. But if greenhouse gas reduction are desired, natural gas, especially natural gas produced and transported via pipelines in and through LNG terminals in America, is the clear option to reduce emissions while reducing energy dependence.

Data from the last few decades of increased natural gas use in the United States show that emissions have declined even as use has surged. The Environmental Protection Agency released a 2021 Greenhouse Gas Inventory report that shows American greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 11.6 percent since 2005, largely due to natural gas displacing coal as the primary source for baseload electric power.

An analysis done by Tim Benson of The Heartland Institute, showed natural gas fired electricity generation increased by 108 percent while power sector emissions were reduced by 33 percent in the same period.

“All of this is a direct result of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) revolution that has made accessible large natural gas and oil reserves and transformed the country’s energy outlook over the past 15 years.” Benson said.

Natural gas is also more practical and cost effective for power generation than wind and solar. Natural gas power plants can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week regardless of weather conditions, and the levelized cost of electricity produced from natural gas is much less expensive than wind or solar power. Further evidence of superiority of natural gas to intermittent wind or solar came last year a a court case out of Minnesota, when the court ruled in favor of the natural gas powered Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC) over the environmentalist assertions that the community’s energy needs would be better suited by new wind and solar installations. The unanimous decision of the court judges was that the intermittent power generation and unreliability of “green” energy sources made them a poor candidate to replace the NTEC.

The court ruled:

The record … supports the conclusion that NTEC serves the public interest better than renewable-resource alternatives. As discussed above, Minnesota Power and the department offered extensive evidence and analyses showing that the transition away from coal and toward intermittent renewable resources impairs reliability and could increase reliance on energy markets, thereby increasing costs. Their analyses also demonstrated that NTEC addresses these concerns, providing a more reliable and lower cost (including environmental costs) source of energy than the equivalent renewable resources.

Even before the present energy crisis deepened, the data was clear, natural gas is a superior to wind, solar, and almost any other energy source from either and environmental or economic perspective. America and European nations should make use of their available energy resources like natural gas regardless of climate change.

Linnea Lueken
Linnea Luekenhttps://www.heartland.org/about-us/who-we-are/linnea-lueken
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief "Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing."

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