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The Role of Natural Gas in the Energy Transition: A Pragmatic Plan for Advancing American Energy and Climate Change Priorities

Statement from the BPC Future of Natural Gas Policy Initiative

The Bipartisan Policy Center has assembled a group of experts from natural gas producers, utilities, clean power companies, former energy regulators, labor and environmental organizations to review and clarify the role that natural gas can play in the energy transition. The goal of the BPC Future of Natural Gas Policy Initiative is to advance a thoughtful and pragmatic national policy agenda for natural gas that aligns economic, social, and environmental priorities.

Natural gas plays a critical role in today’s energy system, both domestically and internationally. On the global stage, the United States regularly tops the list of largest exporters of liquified natural gas (LNG) in the world. Reliable and low-cost natural gas has underpinned a strong American economy and played a significant role in displacing higher-emitting coal power emissions. But for some, the future role of natural gas development in the United States is unclear given the imperative to accelerate deep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which will entail a range of decarbonization solutions that include electrification.

Policymakers and stakeholders grappling with questions about the future of natural gas face growing tension between the goals of economic development, domestic and global climate leadership, and energy security, affordability, and resilience. The BPC Future of Natural Gas Policy Initiative asks a critical question at the heart of the matter:

Can enhancements in natural gas production, distribution, utilization, and export infrastructure be undertaken in the near/medium term in a manner that keeps energy supplies – domestically and internationally – affordable and secure while remaining consistent with climate policy goals that prioritize net zero GHG emissions by 2050?

As a starting point, we agree at a high level there exists a set of conditions that, if met, would allow an enhanced natural gas system in the United States to proceed in a manner that provides sufficient certainty to both the industry and its commercial partners, as well as to stakeholders seeking assurance that the climate risks of continued natural gas development are managed and reduced to negligible levels over time. We are focused on the following six areas where we see need for a clear vision and policy clarity to achieve GHG emissions reductions consistent with a net zero by 2050 climate goal:

  1. upstream value-chain emissions;
  2. natural gas infrastructure;
  3. deployment of decarbonized fuels;
  4. the role of natural gas for export;
  5. end-use emissions through energy efficiency and other end-user solutions such as carbon capture and storage; and
  6. support for domestic employment, union jobs and workforce development in the natural gas sector.

Over the remainder of this year, our group will examine the technical and policy issues at play within these six areas, and we will work to create a more detailed set of policy recommendations that establishes an efficient and workable framework for natural gas in the energy transition. The BPC Future of Natural Gas Policy Initiative is a consensus-based effort that relies upon principled, evidence-based deliberation and constructive compromise. As such, the Initiative’s members should be understood to be working towards support for an eventual set of policy recommendations as a package, but not necessarily every idea in isolation.

Principal members of the BPC Future of Natural Gas Policy Initiative include:

Maryam Brown
President, SoCalGas

Ralph Cavanagh
Energy Co-Director, NRDC

Neil Chatterjee
Former FERC Chairman

Marty Durbin
Senior Vice President, US Chamber

Jason Grumet
CEO, American Clean Power

Jim Kerr
CEO, Southern Company Gas

Yvonne McIntyre
Vice President, PG&E

Rich Powell
CEO, ClearPath

Toby Rice
President and CEO, EQT

Conrad Schneider
Senior Director, US, Clean Air Task Force

Rob Smith
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Cheniere

Samantha Smith
Senior Advisor to the President, AFL-CIO

Norm Szydlowski
BPC Advisor and Former CEO, Colonial Pipeline

Jeff Wilson
Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, Devon

EPRI Director of Research and Development Jeffery Preece is serving as an independent technical advisor to the initiative.

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