The BPC hosted an event on Capitol Hill today with the bipartisan co-chairmen of the House Natural Gas Caucus – Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). Also present were Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). Senator Trent Lott, Senior Fellow at the BPC, moderated the discussion of a recent report from the BPC’s Task Force on Ensuring Stable Natural Gas Markets.
Congressmen Murphy and Boren kicked off the event by describing the work of the Natural Gas Caucus and the impact of the shale gas revolution in their districts. Murphy identified the goals of the Caucus, including supporting policies to promote responsible exploration, safe delivery, and expanded use of natural gas. He emphasized that the Natural Gas Caucus operates in a bipartisan manner because natural gas is not a “red” or a “blue” issue, but a “red, white, and blue issue.” Boren emphasized that shale gas is putting thousands of Americans back to work in a number of states and is bringing significant economic opportunity to his district, Oklahoma’s 2nd District.
Norm Szydlowski, Task Force Co-Chair and CEO of SemGroup, introduced the Task Force’s work and emphasized the unique characteristics of the BPC’s model – convening diverse interests and knowledgeable experts in an effort to develop consensus-based policy recommendations. He also emphasized that, while the Task Force did not make recommendations about environmental regulation of natural gas production, the Task Force shared the understanding that development of our domestic shale resources must be appropriately protective of public health and the environment. Norm added one more adjective to Murphy’s description of shale gas as red, white, and blue — ready. Shale gas resources have been effectively developed in recent years and production is increasing.
Greg Staple, Task Force Co-Chair and CEO of American Clean Skies Foundation, emphasized the positive story to be told about natural gas markets and projections of price stability. He noted that, in light of the game-changing shale gas supply, gas markets and incentives for natural gas infrastructure seem to be working well. Staple quipped that, at the federal level, the policy goal should be to “do no harm.”
Other members of the Task Force highlighted key areas of the Task Force’s work and recommendations:
- Peter Molinaro of The Dow Chemical Company noted that, while manufacturers like Dow who use natural gas as a feedstock were previously “hopeful skeptics” about the dramatic shift in the supply outlook, fact-driven analytic exercises like the BPC’s Task Force have helped convince them of the new shale paradigm. However, Molinaro cautioned the possible consequences of adopting policies that would increase inelastic demand for natural gas while simultaneously constraining supply.
- Dave McCurdy of American Gas Association highlighted the benefits of lower natural gas prices for American consumers, from residential customers to large industrial customers.
- Sini Jacob of Pacific Gas & Electric agreed with McCurdy’s emphasis on consumers and noted that the Task Force’s recommendations, as a whole, will improve utilities’ ability to provide low and stable prices to their consumers over the long-term.
- Pete Sheffield of Spectra Energy confirmed that the contribution of unconventional shale gas to supply is already evident to distribution companies like Spectra. He also emphasized that the diversity of stakeholders represented on the BPC’s Task Force was one of the key reasons Spectra was drawn to participate.
For more information about the report of the Task Force on Ensuring Stable Natural Gas Markets, please visit www.bipartisanpolicy.org/naturalgas.