Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Saving Natural Gas Through Regulation

| Mar. 31, 2019

An unprecedented change in U.S. electricity generation is taking place as natural gas is replacing oil and coal, and in some instances, nuclear power. The U.S. Department of Energy forecasts U.S. natural gas production approaching thirty-three trillion cubic feet in 2019 and fueling approximately 36 percent of electricity generation. This is a huge change from just ten years ago. Furthermore, this growth level has occurred with prices hovering around $3.00 per thousand cubic feet, substantially below the price experts predicted.

These numbers should be cause for celebration, but there is a looming problem that may challenge the long-term viability of natural gas. As the industry drills more wells, builds more pipelines, and signs on more customers, emissions of fugitive methane—the primary component of natural gas—are so high that some experts worry that the climate impact of natural gas is nearly as bad as coal.

Why should we care? Aren’t these emissions a small price to pay for the economic benefits that America has reaped from the natural gas boom? Hasn’t this issue been around for almost a decade, as stakeholders fight over whether there should be government regulation?

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Lee, Henry.“Saving Natural Gas Through Regulation.” The National Interest, March 31, 2019.

The Author

Henry Lee