Natural Gas Price & Supply Concerns Bedevil Climate Change Bill

By Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor | December 2009 Vol. 64 No. 12

Both McKay and McConaghy testified to the ample supplies of natural gas, refuting Cicio's assertions about supply going forward. In his testimony to the Senate Energy Committee, BP's McKay acknowledged the emergence of shale gas saying that over the last few years there has been "a revolution" as deposits of shale gas once thought out of reach have become accessible ”thanks to new uses of proven technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling." He noted that these technologies have enabled production in three of BP’s key fields in Texas to more than double between 2006 and 2008. Successes such as these have led to major new discoveries, not only in traditional oil and gas states, but also in such non traditional ones as Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. U.S. gas production increased last year by 1.5 TCF – the largest increase in the world and the largest in U.S. history. "And we can do more of this, if the right policy framework is put in place to encourage and enable the use of natural gas," McKay stated.

Podesta, the last chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, also mentioned the promise of shale gas, but noted some perils. He pointed to the recent closure of an unnamed Pennsylvania shale gas production site due to water contamination. He indicated that environmental laws need to be reviewed and perhaps strengthened to account for the emergence of shale gas production.