Energy News | Game changer 4: Tim Wirth delivers must-read “extreme words” to natural gas execs

Tim Wirth’s Speech to Natural Gas Execs –

I have been running a multipart series on how new unconventional natural gas supplies may be a game changer for low-cost climate action over the next two decades.  But natural gas may be a game changer for climate politics much sooner.  In fact, if a serious climate bill passes the Senate in the next several months — and I believe it will — then activism by the natural gas industry may prove decisive.

If so, the speech former Colorado senator Tim Wirth gave last week at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s huge annual meeting my turn out to have been the turning point.  Wirth, now head of the UN Foundation, sent me the entire speech, which I reprint below.  But you can get the key message from the Denver Business Journal piece, “Wirth delivers ‘extreme words’ on climate change to energy execs at COGA conference [2].”

The key point of this series is that There appears to be a lot more natural gas than previously thought (Part 1) [3] and therefore unconventional gas makes the 2020 Waxman-Markey target so damn easy and cheap to meet (Part 2) [4], which is great for low-cost climate action, bad for coal (Part 3) [5].  And it always bears repeating, as Part 3 discusses, that natural gas is the critical low-carbon “firming” resource that can enable deep penetration of both windpower and concentrated solar thermal power.

So far, the coal industry has had its way with the climate bill, in part because the single biggest near-term, low-cost, low-carbon baseload alternative to coal power — natural gas (in existing, underutilized natural gas plants) — has sat on the sidelines.  But the fact is many of the key fence-sitting Senators [6] come from states with major unconventional gas reserves, including Arkansas, Louisiana, and the Dakotas.

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