Washington, D.C. – As we determine the best ways to implement President Barack Obama’s recently announced climate action plan, the Center for American Progress released a report detailing the important role natural gas should play in achieving the emissions reductions that are necessary for climate stabilization.
In the near term, we should use the expansion in natural gas to aggressively drive coal from the market, given that natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels and is currently available and affordable. The natural-gas expansion, however, needs to be managed safely and sustainably and without overbuilding long-term electricity-generation capacity that would then need to be retired.
In addition, because the combustion of natural gas produces significant carbon pollution, the consumption of natural gas should peak no later than 17 years from now. Otherwise, the United States will fail to meet its longer-term climate goals.
“Natural gas has an important and positive role to play for our economy and for our climate, but in the rush to exploit this natural resource, we must not lose sight of the critical need to transition to zero-carbon energy—a shift we’ll need to make much sooner than many policymakers assume,” said John Podesta, Chair of the Center for American Progress. “We can build a sustainable economy based on clean, affordable energy and green jobs—but only if we make responsible decisions today.”
The report recommends that the federal government develops energy policies consistent with the following principles:
- Manage the natural-gas expansion to protect public health and the environment.
- Create a swift transition from coal-fired electricity to zero-carbon renewable and efficient energy.
- Generate revenue from the expansion of natural gas during its boom to fund investments in a clean energy economy.
- Adopt measures to protect middle-class families and manufacturing companies from any significant energy price hikes that may occur due to LNG exports.
“We’re already seeing the dangerous impacts of climate change, highlighting why reducing carbon pollution is the biggest challenge facing the energy industry,” said Darryl Banks, Vice President for Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Natural gas is helping to lower pollution, but natural gas is a fossil fuel and climate safety requires that its use peak by 2030, which means that we need to quickly transition to zero-carbon energy.”
Read the report: U.S. Natural-Gas Use Must Peak by 2030 by Darryl Banks and Gwynne Taraska
For more information or to speak with an expert on this issue, contact Noreen Nielsen at gro.ssergorpnacirema@nesleinn or 202.478.6346.