If the real goal of the administration and congress is to reduce green house gases and other pollutants, then the American Clean Energy and Security Act is utterly faulty.
The most efficient way to significantly reduce green house gases and other pollutants is to shift more of the electricity generation away from coal and towards natural gas. Per the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the electricity generation in the U.S. through March 2009 is broken down as follows.
Coal 46.8% Natural Gas 20.3% Nuclear 21.2% Hydroelectric 6.5% Petroleum 1.3% Other Sources 3.9% TOTAL 100.0%
Focusing on the fossil fuels, the EIA reports the emission levels as follows.
Fossil Fuel Emission Levels Pounds per Billion BTU of Energy Input Pollutant Natural Gas Oil Coal Carbon Dioxide 117,000 164,000 208,000 Carbon Monoxide 40 33 208 Nitrogen Oxides 92 448 457 Sulfur Dioxide 1 1,122 2,591 Particulates 7 84 2,744 Mercury 0 0.007 0.016
Natural gas is a plentiful, U.S. produced fuel that is very cheap on a BTU basis. For reference of costs, the following is the cost per unit of production for each of these fossil fuels.
BTU Cost Natural Gas (Mcf) 1,000,000 $3.51 Oil (Bbl) 5,800,000 $63.13 Coal (Ton) 22,400,000 $50.05
Therefore, on a price per MMBTU basis, the cost per fuel breaks down as follows.
Natural Gas $3.51 Oil $10.884 Coal $2.234
Certainly, coal is still the cheapest fuel, however, natural gas is price competitive, plentiful, domestically produced, and significantly cleaner. With advances in drilling technology, estimates of recoverable, domestic natural gas reserves have grown considerably recently: LINK
The total Proved and Potential Natural Gas supplies in the U.S. are 2,074 trillion cubic feet at year-end 2008. This compares to estimates of 1,532 trillion cubic feet at year-end 2006 (35.4% increase). The majority of this increase comes from additional reserve estimates in the various shale plays.
Why is the administration trying to cram down a bill that will likely not reduce pollution but will increase the energy costs for consumers instead of promoting the increased use of natural gas as a fuel? Further, since it seems to me that this bill has no chance of getting through th senate, the entire process seems like a useless exercise.