Sheila McNulty US natural gas industry makes its case

They said they would do it, and now they have: the natural gas industry, desperate to get top billing in the Obama Administration’s attempt to clean up America, has made its first concerted effort to boost its political profile.

It missed an opportunity with the Waxman-Markey bill in the House – natural gas only comes up just twice in the more than 1,000 pages of the bill.

The industry wants more than that.

It wants natural gas to be recognised for having 100 years worth of supply left in this country alone, having roughly half the carbon content of coal, being a strong contender as a transportation fuel, and being the fuel renewables often use as a backup, when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow.

So now that the Senate is to consider the Waxman-Markey bill, the natural gas industry is working hard to ensure it is not glossed over once again.

It has released two studies sure to grab lawmakers’ attention. One, by IHS Global Insight, shows that the natural gas industry provided work for nearly 3m Americans last year:

2.8 million jobs were attributable to the natural gas industry, including more than 622,000 jobs directly in the industry, and another 2.2 million jobs that were either indirectly related or induced by the industry’s economic impact.

That should carry some weight with lawmakers, who are eager to show they support employment at a time when so many Americans are out of work. So should the economic benefits of natural gas, which IHS adds up:

The industry contributed $385 billion to the economy in 2008 and over $180 billion in labor income alone. The influence of the natural gas industry on the economy is spread throughout the continental United States. In 2008, more than 30 states had at least 10,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs related to natural gas.

America’s Natural Gas Alliance, which commissioned the IHS Study, also put out a statement of its own, designed to reach Congress.

According to polling by Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group, more than 75 percent of the American public expect natural gas to play a significant role in our nation’s energy future. Natural gas out-scored wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, coal, biofuels, oil produced in the US and oil imported from other countries as an energy source that the public most expects to play a significant role for the country in the next five to 10 years. The American public not only expects to rely more on natural gas, but also has very favorable views about it. Opinions of natural gas rank right alongside solar power, hydro power, wind power, and domestically produced oil in favorable perceptions.

The question is, will it hit home with the Senate?

Related links:

Natural gas to build up its lobbying (FT Energy Source, 23/07/09)
Crunching the numbers on Waxman-Markey in the Senate (FT Energy Source, 07/07/09)