By Don Santa
Santa is president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America.
Mr. Crawford’s recent op-ed (“Why pipelines will lead to higher energy prices,” Nov. 12) relies on flawed research to argue against the economic benefits of natural gas. The truth is that natural gas will remain central to the United States’ energy mix because it offers a clean-burning, affordable and reliable energy, in addition to its critical role in facilitating the growth of renewable power.
For example, Mr. Crawford relies on a recent Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) report to claim that natural gas will become uneconomic compared to “clean energy portfolios” (CEPs). But RMI’s assumption is based on data from a source whose gas price projections over the last three years have overestimated actual prices by as much as 60 percent. This price difference is very material to RMI’s assertion that CEPs can outcompete 90 percent of new gas-fired electric generation.
This is far from the only flaw in RMI’s report. A veteran industry observer found RMI’s assumptions to be so unsound that he titled his article reviewing the report “Cue More Pixie Dust.”
A May 2019 report by Black & Veatch, published by the INGAA Foundation, analyzed two scenarios that advance a lower-carbon economy: a “balanced transition” and a “rapid renewables transition.” In both cases, natural gas played a vital role and still accounted for roughly 20 percent of total U.S. power generation by 2040.
Likewise, this report found that growing natural gas demand and production could result in a need for 21 billion cubic feet of new gas pipeline infrastructure to support both supply and demand – quite the opposite of the gloomy picture Mr. Crawford tried to paint.
A recent report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that the U.S. shale revolution has saved the average family $2,500 per year from lower energy costs, with most of those savings coming from affordable and abundant natural gas. New infrastructure investment, including pipelines, will ensure that families continue to reap those benefits, all while creating jobs and generating revenue for local governments.