Monday, April 19, 2010

Coal v. Natural Gas - Showdown on The Hill

Ready to tackle another divisive topic, Congress started working on energy policy last week, which led to a preliminary scuffle in the ultimate showdown between coal and natural gas in our nation's energy future.  Most indications are that a new version of the energy legislation should be out as early as tomorrow (April 20).

Gas fan T. Boone Pickens received lots of attention during his testimony.  He made the striking point that 74% of the January 2010 U.S. trade deficit was because of imported oil ($27.5 billion of $37.3 billion), a subject that gets little attention.  It's mind-boggling to think about how much wealth we export.  Pickens was also able to bend the ear of some key lawmakers following his testimony. 

At the same time, executives from top coal companies were attacking the natural gas industry.  Perhaps over-sensitive to the good press natural gas has been getting of late, the coal execs (who are not getting good press lately, especially after the recent tragic mining accident in Montcoal, WV) attacked everything from rosy projections of natural gas supplies to historical gas prices to potential job losses in coal mining.  They also boo-hoo'd the perceived lack of support for the development of carbon capture and storage (CSS) technology.  Apparently, the $60 billion in the original House bill is not enough support.  Yikes!  If that's true, I've got yet another reason to think that "clean coal" is a wasteful boondoggle. 

Also taking shots at Pickens were representatives of the refining industry (also not getting lots of good press lately).  The industry stands to lose business if a bunch of cars and trucks switch away from oil-based fuels.  They joined the coal guys in using scare tactics to attack natural gas.

It is interesting to see how the tables have turned over the years.  The natural gas industry is taking fire from all sides.  Clearly its lobbying effort is making progress!  The difference is 1) natural gas now has something of substance to say and 2) lawmakers seem to be listening.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

BAN COAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HATE IT.