Gas Boom Projected to Grow for Decades



U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates, providing the strongest evidence yet that the energy boom remaking America will last for a generation.

The most exhaustive study to date of a key natural-gas field in Texas, combined with related research under way elsewhere, shows that U.S. shale-rock formations will provide a growing source of moderately priced natural gas through 2040, and decline only slowly after that. A report on the Texas field, to be released Thursday, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The research provides substantial evidence that there are large quantities of …

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AEP to Close 3 Coal Powered Plants in Continued Shift to Natural Gas


“The coal industry is cracking faster than the ice sheets, but it might not be fast enough.”

From The Washington Post.  By and

Feb 25, 2013 04:49 PM EST

One of the nation’s largest utilities agreed Monday to close three of its coal-fired power plants as part of a settlement with government officials and environmental groups, the latest sign of how the nation’s electricity supply is shifting away from coal.

Updating an earlier 2007 settlement, American Electric Power will stop burning coal by 2015 at three power plants in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky and replace a portion of that supply with new wind and solar investments in Indiana and Michigan. The company will spend $5 billion to install pollution controls on plants in its aging, coal-fired fleet in the Eastern United States and cut its annual sulfur dioxide emissions over the next 12 years from 828,000 tons to 174,000 tons.

Coal plants, which supply 32 percent of the nation’s electricity, remain the largest U.S. source of both sulfur dioxide and mercury — which contribute to heart and respiratory illness — as well as carbon dioxide linked to global warming.
“We’re glad AEP is going to retire these aging dinosaurs, and urge the company to ensure an equitable transition for the workers and communities most directly impacted by these retirements,” said Earthjustice attorney Shannon Fisk, who worked on the case.According to the Clean Air Task Force, an advocacy group, closing the Tanners Creek Generating Station Unit 4 in Indiana, the Muskingum River Power Plant Unit 5 in Ohio and the Big Sandy Power Plant Unit 2 in Kentucky will prevent 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks and 188 emergency room visits annually once they stop burning coal.

By modifying the settlement, AEP will be allowed to install cheaper and less stringent pollution controls on its large Rockport coal plant in southern Indiana.

The company will now give $6 million to the eight states that, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups, filed the original 1999 lawsuit against it to address the pollution that drifts east from AEP plants in the Midwest. The states are Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The company will also provide $2.5 million to citizen groups in Indiana so they can address air pollution.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman noted in a statement, “Coal-fired power plants make the largest contribution to air pollution in New York’s skies.”

Sierra Club attorney Bruce Nilles, who helped negotiate the agreement, said in an interview that the result showed how a combination of market forces and environmental activism had weakened the hand of the coal industry in the United States. But he added that in the face of rising carbon emissions worldwide, environmentalists could not declare total victory.

“The coal industry is cracking faster than the ice sheets, but it might not be fast enough,” he said.

Shale Revolution Shakes the World


Robert Manning: Shale Revolution Shakes the World
By Robert A. Manning
October 22, 2012

A senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, Manning questions U.S. energy policy and its impact on the economy.
For all the attention the Shale Revolution has garnered, we are only beginning to see its longer-term impact — and not only in reshaping the energy landscape and raising energy policy questions. The Shale Revolution is also an emerging factor enabling US economic revitalization and impacting long-term geopolitical interests.
Shale gas is dramatically altering the US energy mix. According the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), natural gas now rivals coal for electricity production (coal, 34%, gas, 32% in May), with the added benefit of helping to reduce GHG emissions (1.7% in 2011). Yet at the same time, lower prices of gas is also changing the economics of wind, solar and further dampening that of nuclear.
Indeed, the Shale Revolution raises a number of questions about US energy policies, starting with those surrounding the lack of more uniform regulatory policies to ensure safety:
•In light of the rise of natural gas realities, does it make more sense to rethink subsidies to wind and solar and instead give more priority to building a nationwide smart grid network (which would ultimately benefit solar and wind)?
•Is gas substantial and long-term enough to warrant serious efforts to actively consider converting transport from gasoline to natural gas – for fleets, if not for private vehicles?
•Will the move from coal to gas for electricity spur efforts to develop carbon sequestration technology so that it becomes cost-competitive, enabling clean coal to compete with gas and renewable as a source of electricity?
•With the US now the world’s largest gas producer, whether – and to what extent – to allow gas exports?

Certainly, stranded gas in Alaska, for example would find ready markets in Japan and elsewhere in East Asia.
Then there is the broader impact on the US economy. In addition to enabling the US to reducing dependence on oil imports from 60% to 42%, unconventional gas (shale, tight sands and coalbed methane) is supporting one million jobs –projected to grow to 1.4 million jobs by 2015, according to an IHS study. Shale is spurring US manufacturing in downstream industries – petrochemical, chemical, metals and other energy-intensive industries. A Price WaterhouseCooper (PWC) study projects that the benefits from shale could allow US industry to lower raw materials and energy costs by $11.6 billion and create approximately one million more jobs by 2025.
Lastly, there are the geopolitical ramifications of the Shale revolution with Russia and Iran the apparent losers. With shale allowing US gas to sell at 75% below what Gazprom charges E.European customers, the most important cog in Putin’s State capitalist crony system may be at risk. Gazprom has been forced to lower prices to Europe and is being investigated by the European Commission for price fixing. The result will likely increase pressure on Gazprom to lower prices. Already Gazprom’s market value has shriveled from $365 billion in 2008 to $120 billion today and major projects such as the Shtokman gas project in the Arctic have been cancelled. As Gazprom has been a veritable cash cow enabling Putin to build and sustain his ruling network of cronies, Gazprom’s uncertain fate raises intriguing questions about Russia’s future as a petro-state. [3]
Robert A. Manning is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.