Natural Gas Caucus Holds Organizational Meeting and First Panel Briefing for 113th Congress
The newly-expanded bipartisan leadership team of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus (Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-PA; Gene Green, D-TX; Tom Reed, R-NY; and Jim Costa, D-CA) on Tuesday held the caucus' organizational meeting and first briefing for the 113th Congress, a panel discussion with industry and policy experts.
The briefing focused on an array of policy areas surrounding natural gas development, including resource availability, extraction methods and technology, transmission and distribution, the federal regulatory framework, the use of associated liquids in chemical manufacturing, and the growing use of natural gas in power generation.
Almost a third of America’s natural gas supply today is used for industrial feedstock in chemical plants and in fertilizer and other industries, and another third or more is used in commercial and residential spaces for heating and cooking. The panel discussed the long-term price and supply considerations that will influence the future pace of expanded natural gas utilization.
Mr. Mike Walls, Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), discussed the use of natural gas and associated liquids in chemical manufacturing, and related economic, market, and regulatory challenges for the chemical industry. Mr. Walls has been with the ACC for 22 years and has experience in a wide range of regulatory issues governing the U.S. chemical industry.
While coal has long served as the nation’s primary source of electric power generation, cleaner-burning natural gas is rapidly increasing its share of this total. The discussion covered the policy challenges with this transition, including the need to modernize, improve, and expand the nation’s electrical grid, along with other long-term planning considerations.
Martin Edwards, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), offered an overview of natural gas-related infrastructure. During his tenure at INGAA, Mr. Edwards has worked on the Pipeline Safety Act of 1996, the One-Call Notification Act of 1998, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, and the Energy Policy Act of 2003, among others.
The advent of shale gas development over the past decade using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has exponentially expanded the America's natural gas resource base. These new technologies have made the cost of producing natural gas inherently cheaper, which has helped turn America from an energy resource deficit to a surplus.
Mr. Lee Fuller, Vice President of Government Relations with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, offered remarks on how projections suggest that US natural gas production can meet current demand for as much as 100 years allowing for the possibility of new markets to be developed -- expansion of natural gas use for electricity generation, natural gas vehicles, natural gas exports. Mr. Fuller also offered an overview of the tax and regulatory framework governing the industry. Mr. Fuller previously worked on Capitol Hill as staff director of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Yvonne McIntyre, Vice President of Federal Legislative Affairs with the Calpine Corporation, a major U.S. Power company, discussed a private perspective on an array of gas-related issues in each region of the country, from power generation to transmission and distribution. At Calpine, Ms. McIntyre is responsible for managing the federal legislative and regulatory strategies for the company.
Adam Vann, Legislative Attorney with the Congressional Research Service, offered an introduction to all federal statutes governing the natural gas industry and areas of cross-jurisdiction between states and the federal government.