The Wall Street Journal editorializes:
The oil and gas fracking boom increased household disposable income by $1,200 last year as lower energy costs flowed to consumers, according to a new study from IHS Global Insight. So Americans may want to know that President Obama’s nominee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) thinks natural gas is a “dead end.”
That nominee is Ron Binz, and in March 2013 he spoke at an Edison Foundation panel on utilities and green technologies. To fight global warming, he argued, government must adopt a “new regulatory model, because that’s where it’s going to start.”
Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers challenged him by noting that the 2009 Pelosi cap-and-trade bill hadn’t passed, yet utilities have since cut carbon emissions sharply by switching to natural gas from coal. This shift is “an incredible example” of how “policy didn’t get done, but at the end of the day technology produced the result. You seem to believe that this transition will only happen if it’s driven by policy,” Mr. Rogers asked.
“Well, natural gas is a good example,” Mr. Binz replied, meaning of his policy preferences. “It’s been called for many years a transition fuel. The industry has sort of jettisoned that label lately. It seems to be a permanent fuel. On a carbon basis you hit the wall in 2035 or so with gas. I mean, you do.”
Mr. Binz said switching to gas might be “a good move” for the interim, “but we also need to understand that without CCS, without carbon capture and storage, I think that’s a dead end, a relative dead end—it won’t dead end until 2035 or so. But that’s when we need to do better on carbon than even natural gas will allow us to do under current assumptions.”
So there it is: Natural gas is a dead end not because there will be too little gas but because by 2035 it won’t reduce carbon emissions as much as Mr. Binz wants…