Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The President's Re-Election Brings More Good News Than Bad For Natural Gas

The President got little support in the natural gas industry and even less in the oil and coal industries.  Yet, for the natural gas industry, the re-election of the President brings more good news than bad.  Here are 5 reasons why.

First, the President has overseen booms in gas and oil production in the United States.  That has meant that he has not gotten in the way more than anything else.  The heated attacks on him and his Administration by some associated with the gas industry were never rooted in a reality.  The President's re-election means the continuation of the extraordinary booms in domestic oil and gas production for the next 4 years and beyond.

Second, the Natural Gas Act or the Pickens plan lives.  Governor Romney opposed it, but the President supports it.  This nation should commit to a massive effort to boost alternative transportation fuels to oil. That includes biofuels and electric vehicles but natural gas too.  If that is to happen nationally, the Natural Gas Act must pass. And let's be clear. The opposition is rooted in Republican ranks.

Third, the EPA Air Toxic Rule will not be derailed by a Romney administration or Congressional action.  If the rule survives judicial challenge, much more gas--approximately 1 trillion cubic feet per year--will be used to make electricity.

Fourth, the CAFE standards will be implemented and those standards include important incentives for natural gas vehicles. Romney pledged their repeal and that repeal would have harmed natural gas usage in transportation.

Fifth, the combination of Sandy and the President's re-election means that climate change will be addressed in some manner and that could benefit natural gas.  Greater use of natural gas to displace coal and oil is the main reason why US carbon emissions have dropped to 1992 levels.

Put simply, the President's re-election is good for natural gas demand, and much better than Governor Romney would have been for boosting natural gas consumption.  And right now the most pressing need for the gas industry is to sell more product.

The President's re-election also means that renewable energy, and especially wind, will continue to boom.  While that will avoid some natural gas demand, renewables need natural gas to firm supply and so there are operating synergies for gas and renewable energy.

Indeed, the American wind industry won big last night.  This President knows that the wind industry and public support for it were important to his crucial victories in Iowa and Colorado.  The wind production tax credit will be renewed as a result of last night.

The President's re-election is not all good news for the gas industry.  The EPA is not going away and gas industry attacks on it were ill-advised before last night.  This morning they would be just plain dumb.

An area where the gas industry will be in a fight with the President is tax policy.  Tax breaks for the oil and gas industry will be under siege, pressured by a President who ran against them and by the fiscal condition of the nation.


  1. Concerned ScientistNovember 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Good post - I agree with almost every point you have made. Obama has been better for the industry than most of them realize. It's a case where ideology is skewing reality.

    The EPA has helped the industry out in some ways - the work in Dimock helped the industry in the end, even if they were foolish in the beginning. I think Industry would be smart not to take an adversarial position but to welcome the EPA and to work with them.

    The EPA needs to take a very hard look at itself as it has not performed well in some other cases. The case in TX was a disaster for them as the lead investigator there appeared to be coming from an ideological place rather than a simple fact finding place. He quit and started immediately working for the Sierra Club and their anti-natural gas crusade. The investigation in Pavillion also seems to be fraught with problems. Some of these may be made up but some of those criticisms of their work there are accurate. The fact is that fracking is not what many environmental organizations have portrayed it to be. Some in the EPA came from environmental organizations and have a personal stake in keeping the anti-fracking nonsense going. Obama should do a review of his personnel and make changes where ideology seems to be superceding science.

    I think the EPA should hire someone like you to lead their natural gas investigations. Are you interested?

  2. John: How do you see the wind PTC being extended when the clamor for addressing the fiscal cliff becomes even louder? I don't see that happening, as you would have to cut even deeper into other programs to make any progress on the deficit.

  3. The President and Harry Reid are focused on it, especially after wind industry support and the issue helping in Iowa and Colorado. Environmental groups will focus on it and they won on Tuesday. Democrats won more votes in House races than Republicans did. The Speaker will ultimately not fight over this, especially since some House Republicans support the PTC (most wind farms are in Republican House Districts). We'll see.