Time Is Right For A Gas Revolution

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | January 2012, Vol. 67 No. 1

According to a survey by the Associate Press, only about 32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to shut down and an additional 36 might have to close because of new federal air pollution regulations -- which is a far cry from the death of the coal industry claimed by their supporters.

Together, those plants — some of the oldest and dirtiest in the country — produce enough electricity for more than 22 million households, the AP survey found. The EPA has estimated that 14.7 gigawatts, enough power for more than 11 million households, will be retired from the power grid in the 2014-15 period when the two new rules take effect. Combined, the rules could do away with more than 8 percent of the coal-fired generation nationwide, the AP found.

Coal still owns 50 percent of the power generation market. Several coal supporters have already said they expect coal to remain the dominant domestic electricity source.

That is why the time is now for the natural gas revolution. The industry needs to use the EPA’s latest rules to springboard a game changing market situation. This could be the historic day that the gas market seizes momentum and helps direct a fundamental shift in public and Congressional thinking.

The gas industry needs to fully separate itself from other fuel sources. It needs to demonstrate that, even though it is a petro carbon fuel, it is clearly superior to anything on the market today. It is plentiful, economical and totally viable as the major fuel source for not only power generation, but for transportation as well.

We are not dirty coal; we are not nuclear with inherent waste disposal and containment issues. Rather, we are natural gas: safe, plentiful, easy to transport and environmentally sound. Alternative fuel sources may develop at some point in the next 50 to 100 years, but until then, natural gas can than meet this country’s energy demands in an economical and environmentally healthy way.

Is this a self-serving position for the gas industry? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make the conclusions any less truthful. Coal is not our friend. But today, the EPA is.