26 Energy L.J. 349 (2005)
Energy and the Environment: The Future of Natural Gas in America

handle is hein.journals/energy26 and id is 359 raw text is: ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT: THE FUTURE
OF NATURAL GAS IN AMERICA
United States Senator James M. Inhofe & Frank Fannon*
INTRODUCTION
Natural gas has been regarded as the ideal fossil fuel for multiple uses-
from electricity generation to manufacturing, in part because of its efficiency, in
part because of its relative cleanliness, and in part because of its relatively low
delivered cost. For many years, natural gas was a wise and easy choice; America
is blessed with an abundant supply and gas bums cleaner and is considered by
some to be more environmentally preferable to other fuels. That abundant
supply translated to low prices, and those low prices helped fuel a strong and
vibrant economy. Now however, the days of low gas prices are over, and the
nation is in the midst of a very real natural gas crisis.
Most people probably do not realize the importance that natural gas plays in
their daily lives, but they certainly have noticed that they are paying more for
energy than they did a year ago. As more of a family's income is diverted for
energy costs, less money can be spent on providing for their children's
education, less money can be invested in their small business, less money can be
saved for retirement. Not surprisingly, these higher prices are most acutely felt
by the poor and those on fixed incomes.
Many of our nation's workers have unfortunately felt the result of high
natural gas prices in the most severe way-they have lost theirjobs. Natural gas
is a principal feedstock to several industries including chemical and
petrochemical manufacturing, the pulp and paper, steel, and fertilizer industries.
When the domestic costs of production increase relative to global competitors,
U.S. domestic manufacturing companies lose out.
Policymakers and the public are struggling to determine why the U.S. is in
the grip of this natural gas crisis. Why have natural gas prices increased so
dramatically? Why has the market been unable to correct itself to find balance?
Most importantly, how can Congress effect federal policies that will temper the
natural gas crisis?
As the Mayor of Tulsa and later a Representative and Senator representing
the oil and gas producing State of Oklahoma, I have been involved with natural
gas policy spanning five decades. As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee
on the Environment & Public Works, I have focused on the situation with
renewed fervor. On March 25, 2004, 1 chaired an oversight hearing concerning
the environmental considerations affecting natural gas prices. At that hearing,
representatives of the natural gas production industry, manufacturing sector,
environmental groups, farmers, and even a Northeastern Governor testified. The
conclusions and lessons learned from that hearing were far-reaching and
significant. Yet, the most dramatic finding was that U.S. federal laws and
policies have contributed in large measure to the nation's natural gas crisis.
In large part, changes to the Clean Air Act and other air-related regulations
have driven increased demand for natural gas. Yet, other federal environmental
Senator Inhofe is the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Frank Fannon
is Legislative Counsel for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

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