Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The congressional Natural Gas Caucus gathered Wednesday in Washington DC for the first time and took testimony from gas companies, exploration firms, government officials and researchers on the future of natural gas use in the United States. US Congressman Tim Murphy (Republican) of Upper St. Clair created the caucus this month and co-chairs it with Congressman Dan Boren (Democrat) of Oklahoma. Murphy says he felt that natural gas was not getting the attention it deserved in the ongoing energy debate so he decided to join the natural gas caucus only to learn it did not exist. During the first meeting of the caucus Murphy says he learned that previous estimates of natural gas reserves in the nation were low and now many experts believe there are some 2,500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under US soil. Murphy admits natural gas is not the final solution to the nation’s energy needs but he says it will help provide a bridge to that solution. During the meeting, the 45 members of the committee were told that transportation might be one of the first places to begin using natural gas. Murphy says most homes, gas stations and convenience stores already have access to natural gas and all that would be needed to fuel cars and trucks would be a compressor. He says it would also take about $1,000 to convert existing cars to run on natural gas but he thinks there could be tax incentives created to spark those conversions. At the hearing shale gas was hailed as a great source of natural gas but there is still debate over taxing and environmental concerns. Murphy warns too much taxing of shale gas extraction will send gas companies overseas, which will only make the United States more dependent on foreign energy supplies. Murphy says having the proper environment controls will also be an important part of the shale gas debate.