Event Information:

  • Wed

    What Does the Future Hold for Natural Gas?

    2:00 PMWebinar

    David Littell presentation

    Jonathan Lesser presentation

    Ken Costello presentation

    Register now


    • David Littell, Principal, Regulatory Assistance Project
    • Jonathan Lesser, President, Continental Economics, Inc.
    • Ken Costello, Principal Researcher, NRRI   

    Moderator: Ken Costello


    This webinar will examine the different roles that natural gas can play in the future for electricity generation and direct end uses.  It will lay out questions for policymakers to consider and provide answers to some of them from different perspectives.

    The questions about natural gas are complex and require consideration of its overall effect on society.  As a public-policy matter, should we encourage more natural-gas use, or should we consider phasing-out natural gas?  Do we have to act now or can we wait? Policymakers should view natural gas in terms of its economics, environmental effects, and other factors (e.g., domestic source of energy) that affect societal welfare.  Natural gas provides major economic benefits, but the environmental effects (from production to delivery, and end-use consumption) have come under attack and are subject to legitimate questioning

    The future of natural gas hinges on the government’s established greenhouse gas (GHG) target, technology developments, and the cost of clean energy.  Even though there is uncertainty in the next few years over the creation of a federally-mandated target, some states will and some have already established their own targets.

    One question relates to whether electrification poses a major threat for the natural gas industry in the years ahead.  Should policymakers encourage homeowners and business to convert from natural gas to electricity for various end uses?

    A point of contention is whether the most rational policy is to support continued reliance on natural gas as a major fuel source for electric generation for the next 10 to 15 years, and possibly even longer.  One argument is that U.S. and state energy policy should encourage the expansion of natural gas for different uses rather than its suppression.  As long as production remains high and price is relatively low, natural gas should continue to displace coal for the next few decades.  Whether natural gas has a bright or declining future in the longer term (e.g., beyond 2030) is uncertain.  It will depend on factors such as the cost of clean energy (which in turn relates to R&D efforts), and GHG-emissions targets.