From S&P Global/Platts

Industry maintains role in ‘logical’ transition to lower carbon system

Washington — As debate over responses to climate change gains a higher profile in Washington, the major trade group representing interstate natural gas pipelines said it is making education of new congressional lawmakers a top priority this year.

House Dems turn attention to climate change

Democrats taking power in the House of Representatives promise to turn more attention to climate change through a new select committee and upcoming hearings.

They are getting a strong tug to go much further by advocates of a “Green New Deal,” which aspires to transform the economy by moving quickly to 100% renewable generation while guaranteeing jobs along the way. Freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat-New York, who has surprised Washington with her ability to alter the conversation through social media, is pushing the Green New Deal agenda, and several 2020 presidential candidates have also come on board.

Asked whether the industry has concerns about a political sea change that could affect its support in government, new INGAA board chairman Bill Yardley, executive vice president of Enbridge, said Friday in an interview “we would be crazy not to worry about it,” while adding the industry believes it has a strong case to make. “We know things aren’t easy, but we also know we’ve got an opportunity to tell a much better story than what’s out there right now,” he said.


INGAA President Don Santa added that the group sees the influx of new members in the Democratically controlled House as an opportunity to explain the industry’s benefits in terms of consumer costs, contribution to the US economy and a role in lowering emissions, domestically and globally through exports.

Along those lines, Yardley suggests natural gas “fits so well with a logical transition to a more carbon-free environment. You can look at a component of the political landscape and say [it’s] tough to convince this group, but as things hopefully get back toward a logical conversation with facts and data, I think we will have a really good seat at the table,” he added.

Other priorities for the trade group include focusing on safety, reliability and resilience, as well as advocating for more predictability in the permitting process and coordination among federal agencies in that process, INGAA officials said.

In making its case, the gas pipeline industry will face arguments from opponents who contend that continued investments in infrastructure that lasts for decades could imperil a timely shift to lower carbon resources. Discussion of the future role of fossil fuels accelerated late last year with the release of the US government’s 4th National Climate Assessment, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which warned dramatic action was needed in the next 10 years.


Yardley also acknowledged increased scrutiny and permitting challenges the industry faced over proposed expansions, even as he said the demand for midstream gas infrastructure remains strong.

“We have to figure out a way to say ‘OK, we appreciate you’re looking for a lot more details from us,… a lot more evidence that we need this facility to go in the ground,'” he said. “I think the industry and its members are prepared to do that” and to do more to make sure “we’re pursuing our permits accurately and providing all the potential evidence necessary,” he said.

Many gas pipeline dockets at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have faced filings from opponents questioning whether there was an adequate demonstration that projects were needed.


Legal Notice