Journalism in the Public Interest


Natural Gas Advocate Takes Gas Industry to Task

U.N. Foundation president and former Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., at an energy summit in February. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)They were tough words for the natural gas industry to hear. In a blunt speech before the Colorado Oil and Gas Association last week, Timothy Wirth, a former Colorado Democratic senator and Under Secretary of State for global affairs in the Clinton administration, warned industry leaders that they need to pay attention to the environmental and climate concerns that are shaping national policy, or risk being left behind.

Wirth took the industry to task for not engaging in the climate legislation being debated in Congress—a bill he said every other energy industry was deeply involved in—and for fighting the changes taking place in energy policy rather than participating and seeking fresh opportunities.

Wirth, who today is president of Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation, is no enemy of the oil and gas industry. He described clean-burning natural gas as the single most important component of a new energy supply chain that can help cut greenhouse gas emissions, and he said the use of nation’s bountiful natural gas reserves is essential to curbing climate change. But he also said the industry is preoccupied with the wrong priorities and is off message.

“The time has come for the natural gas industry to get organized, take the gloves off, and get thoroughly engaged in helping our country advance rapidly toward a low-carbon economy,” Wirth said.

In his speech he offered some advice: The industry should identify its key priorities, work to get its regulatory house in order and recognize the big picture rather than complain about details in legislation like the climate bill.

“What are the options?” he asked the industry executives in a question and answer session after his speech. “You can stay where you are today. ... Your industry is going to continue to wallow. That’s your own choice.”

You can watch a video of Wirth’s July 8 speech or read the entire text here (PDF).

Michael Catanzaro

July 16, 2009, 2:55 p.m.

Oh boy where do you start…. this debate or lack thereof regarding global warming is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog there riding on. Everyone is so caught up in who is going to benefit , that the original premise is lost and no longer questioned….. if you say it long enough it becomes the truth[ at least in the minds]

Cap and Trade will kill this dying economy, drill here drill now ! then go along with the feel goodness of life… no more taxes.PLEASE yes there is a place for alternate energy.
just not at this speed and now, slow down, the planet will be here tomorrow , along
with the polar bears and icebergs why rush this?

Michael Catanzaro

Michael Catanzaro:

How will cap and trade kill the economy? Because it will
inspire companies to create new jobs to build and maintain a clean energy infrastructure? Because it will help move us away from expensive foreign oil?

Where do you live? Are you willing to have a coal plant or an oil well in your back yard? I’m willing to have solar panels and wind turbines in mine?

As for T. Boone Picken’s “Picken’s Plan” and the NAT Gas Act that proposes switching industrial fleets to propane to save money, reduce emissions, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil: This movement is gaining support, and while it may be better than oil, it’s still dirtier than solar, wind, and hydrodynamic.

Also, isn’t anybody else worried about traffic accidents with propane powered vehicles? Aren’t gases a lot more susceptible to explosion under heat than liquids?

Michael Catanzaro

July 16, 2009, 8:30 p.m.

I can certainly understand your concerns, however Cap and Trade is not he answer it will raise the price of energy dramatically as Pres. Obama openly admitted . It will come at a time when this economy can least afford to be shaken any further, we will also be less competitive due to the fact the China and India would never encumber their economy with this type of regulation. There is an interesting article by Keith Bradsher of the NY time entitled China Green Power, it will provide you with some additional background. Coal is still needed and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, due to the fact that alternative energy as a viable means of power is yet to determined. nor can the jobs it will create be measured in advance.

There is environmental impact with renewable energy as well, a solar farm in the desert requires over 100,000 acres + the power lines over hill and dale to bring it on line.

Its all about the trading of credits treating emissions as a new commodity that will be taxed and traded on Wall street for massive profit, the next new game in town.

I have coal plants within 5 miles of my house and never had a problem with them.
If we drill for oil and gas in the US we can get out of the foreign oil market as well as middle east politics and no more soldiers dying in the sand box. It should be mandated to the oil companies that if we allow domestic drilling that % profits be invested in renewable tech. for the privilege, and not tax payer money to fund the research and development.

I am happy that you took the time to respond to my post it is always a pleasure to debate the issues in this great country of ours.

Be well my friend,
Michael Catanzaro

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