13 November 2007 19:00 [Source: ICIS news]
Representative Rick Boucher, chairman of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told a press conference that with the greenhouse gas emissions control bill his panel is developing and separate Democrat-sponsored energy conservation legislation, “we cannot have dislocation of the US economy by forcing coal-powered electric utilities to default to the next cheapest fuel, which is natural gas”.
US chemical industry officials and other manufacturing interests have warned that climate control legislation now pending in the US House and Senate could devastate the country’s manufacturing sector by forcing electric utilities to switch on a large scale from coal to natural gas in order to meet emissions reductions that climate legislation would impose.
Boucher said too that “something like half of American homes are heated by natural gas, actually about 58% of American homes, so if electric utilities were to default in large numbers from coal to natural gas, gas prices will spike, and they would likely spike in multiples of what they are today, about $7/m Btu”.
He also noted that at $7/m Btu, gas prices are already at multiples of the $2/m Btu range of a few years ago.
“We have to make sure that the provisions of this [climate control] bill do not accelerate that trend,” he said, referring to fuel-switching by utilities.
“Beyond the economic pain that would impose on homeowners, much of
“The chemical industry, for example, is completely gas dependent and has no alternative to natural gas as a critical feedstock,” he said. “We have already seen some chemical companies move overseas because gas is at $7, and we cannot afford to lose the rest of them.”
He said that in crafting a climate control cap and trade emissions bill, his committee will have to find a way to ensure that utilities can continue to use abundant
“Fertilizer and aluminium production also are gas dependent, and there is a much longer list of American industry that would be broadly dislocated if coal-fired utilities were to default to natural gas,” he said.
Boucher, who represents a district in south-western
“My concern is the
Boucher said he expects to have his committee complete a climate control bill for consideration by the full House by early next year. Similar legislation is pending in the US Senate.
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