Friday Fact Check: Natural Gas Is Here To Stay

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Moniz, Brouillette: Natural gas is here to stay
Mike Lee, E & E News, June 24, 2021

Former Energy Secretaries Ernest Moniz and Dan Brouillette said yesterday that the U.S. needs to continue exporting natural gas to support its allies around the world.

Gas will continue to be an important source of fuel worldwide as more countries try to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, they said during a forum sponsored by the nonprofit group Meridian.

Other speakers, including officials from Japan and Vietnam, echoed their remarks, saying gas will be important even as more countries try to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and as financiers press the gas industry to curb its pollution.

“It’s going to be a transition, but I think that the ground truth is that natural gas is going to remain a very important part of the global picture,” Moniz said.

Gas produces about half as much carbon dioxide as coal when it’s burned for electricity. However, it can also be a potent greenhouse gas when it’s released into the atmosphere during production and transportation. Neither of the former Energy Department heads addressed the gas industry’s downside.

Moniz, who was secretary during Obama’s second term, credited the fracking boom of the 2000s and 2010s with helping reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, mostly by replacing coal as a power plant fuel.

Brouillette said the Trump administration viewed gas for its value as an export product, particularly in the growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. He said gas provides environmental benefits since it typically replaced dirtier fuels in the countries that bought it.

“The demand in emerging economies around the world is simply astounding,” said Brouillette, who served as DOE secretary from 2019 until Trump’s departure from office. “It’s important we provide that marketplace with U.S.-produced natural gas because we are the cleanest producer in the world.”

Japan is among the countries that have committed to cutting its emissions by 2050. That will require cooperation among nations, and it’s important for the U.S. and other developed nations to support emerging countries that are trying to both modernize and adopt clean forms of energy, said Ejima Kiyoshi, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry.

“These transitions must take into account the different circumstances of each country and utilize all energy sources and technologies, including not only renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement, but also incorporating the clean use of fossil fuels,” Kiyoshi said.

Vietnam plans to more than double its imports of LNG between 2026 and 2035, and it’s looking for investors to help build re-gasification plants, pipelines, and other infrastructure, said Ha Kim Ngoc, the country’s ambassador to the U.S.

“We need investors who have long-term vision, financial support and expertise, just like the United States, Japan and some other countries to help Vietnam on LNG,” he said.