Natural Gas Advocate's Argument countered by Alan Northcutt
following is a column from the Waco Tribune-Herald that appeared on June 4th. The column is followed by a refutation letter
to the editor from Alan Northcutt:
John Collier: Natural gas should remain
cornerstone of Texas energy policy
JOHN COLLIER Guest
Jun 4, 2021
in the U.S. has benefited greatly from the shale revolution. Without it, we
would have remained energy dependent and the world’s largest importer of oil.
We would have certainly become a large importer of liquid natural gas from
OPEC+ countries. Abundant, low-cost American gas has lowered the cost of living
for all citizens and has improved our competitiveness in the world economy.
Shale gas has led to a rejuvenation of manufacturing and many foreign companies
are escaping high energy costs abroad to invest within in the United States.
to a report prepared for the Department of Energy,
CO2 emissions in the U.S. power sector have decreased over 33% since 2005,
while natural gas-fired electricity has increased by 108% during the same time.
This is largely due to clean-burning natural gas replacing coal-fired power
no new coal or nuclear plants are being built, natural gas makes up the
majority of the dispatchable power supply in Texas. That means its output can
easily be increased or decreased as needed to meet demand for electricity,
known as a baseload power supply. Wind and solar can flood the grid when the
sun is shining or the wind is blowing, but they disappear quickly if there is
significant cloud cover or minimal wind.
morning of Feb. 15, like many people around the state, my family woke up in a
cold, dark house. As my kids roasted hot dogs in the fireplace for breakfast
and I made coffee in the garage with a generator, news got to us that it would
likely be days before we had electricity. Luckily, we were able to go to a
relative’s house that was backed up by a natural gas-powered generator. So we
spent the week warm, but worried about those less fortunate.
ice finally thawed, the finger-pointing began in the aftermath of the historic
storm that swept across Texas. Yet as we learn more about how the storm
affected our state’s electricity grid, it has become clear that much of the
blame does not reflect reality.
certain, every energy system faced challenges to remain online as
infrastructure froze and demand soared. That is what happens when a southern
state like Texas gets slammed with record freezing temperatures that we
normally associate with North Dakota or Montana.
normal weather, thanks to our state’s abundant natural resources, including
natural gas, wind, coal and, increasingly, solar, alternate as the primary fuel
that powers the electricity grid depending on the time of day. But during the
week of Feb. 15, as temperatures plummeted and demand skyrocketed, it was
natural gas that became the dominant fuel in Texas’ energy mix during all hours
of the day, as shown by data from the Energy Information
gas was consistently able to generate upwards of 40,000 megawatt hours of
electricity when every other source struggled to reach half that amount. In
fact, at the height of the storm, natural gas generated more electricity than
all other energy sources — combined.
Platts, the highly respected analytics firm, also reported that natural gas
shouldered the burden for electricity generation, according to a quote tweeted by Richard Meyer of the
American Gas Association: “Despite wind accounting for 25% of generation in
ERCOT in January, it too dipped as low as 6-7% on Feb. 15-16. Natural gas,
however, surged to as high as 65% on those days to offset losses from coal and
energy system performed perfectly, if it were not for the state’s abundant
natural gas, the consequences for Texans during the storm would have been much
the energy industry, elected leaders and regulators will all need to take
serious steps to ensure that our electricity grid is not vulnerable to cold (or
extremely hot) weather and that Texans never again have to suffer like we did
in February. The influx of people moving into the state will only add more
demand and more need for reform.
will call for improvements with every energy source and for all facets of the
energy distribution system, but we need to remember the critical role that
natural gas played during the storm and ignore the anti-energy activists who
only seek to undermine the industry.
was the only abundant and reliable fuel that powered Texas’ energy mix during
the storm, and it should remain a cornerstone of our state and nation’s energy
policy moving forward.
John B. Collier V of Fort Worth is president of the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners, a nonprofit business group that represents millions of “little bitty oil” mineral rights owners. His family operates Collier Diamond C Ranch in Erath County.
Alan Northcutt's Response:
The recent guest column by John Collier, claiming natural gas “should remain a cornerstone of our state and nation’s energy policy moving forward,” must be refuted. First, it is critical to note that Mr. Collier is president of a gas royalty owners’ association and profits from the continued extraction of natural gas. On the other hand, my comments are science-based, and I have no financial investment in any energy source.
praises “clean-burning” natural gas as a replacement for coal-fired power
plants. In reality, burning natural gas produces significant CO2 emissions (50%
that of burning coal) and natural gas extraction also releases unburned methane, which has a global warming
potential 90 times greater than CO2. These combined effects often give natural
gas a global warming potential equal to or greater than that of coal. Focusing
on profit, Collier completely ignores the consensus warning of climate
scientists that the world must reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions
by 2050. If the planet followed Collier’s recommendation for natural gas as
dominant energy source, global temperature would increase 3 to 4 degrees Celsius
above the preindustrial mean, more would die during heatwaves, worsening
drought would threaten crop production and global food security, millions would
lose their homes beneath rising seas, lethal superstorms would assault coastal
cities, and our priceless coral reefs would vanish.
We can all
reject this natural gas future and support a livable planet by selecting a 100%
renewable plan from our electricity provider.
Alan D. Northcutt, Waco