Increasing domestic natural gas production and retrofitting buildings to be more efficient should form the basis of a low-carbon U.S. energy policy, according to a statement put out Monday during the Clean Energy Summit.
The summit, held for the second year in Las Vegas, brought together some of the most recognized political figures shaping energy policy, including Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and businessman T. Boone Pickens. Other speakers included Bill Clinton, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Al Gore, and green jobs advocate Van Jones.
The event was organized by the Center for American Progress and the Energy Future Coalition, which jointly put out a memo touting the benefits of natural gas and building efficiency.
The memo says that there is now technology to tap natural gas in so-called nonconventional sources, namely trapped in shale deposits in the U.S. "This creates an unprecedented opportunity to use gas as a bridge fuel to a 21st-century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources, and low-carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas," according to the memo. (Click for PDF of full text.)
Natural gas can be used to make electricity and as a transportation fuel. The memo recommends investing in natural gas filling stations for large trucks and buses, which are much harder to run from electric batteries than passenger cars. In addition to reducing imports of oil, natural gas burns cleaner than coal, emitting half as much carbon
Efficiency, considered the most cost-effective way to reduce fossil fuel use, was a consistent topic of discussion at the summit as well.
The Center for American Progress and Energy Future Coalition estimated that retrofitting 40 percent of U.S. homes and buildings would save consumers $1,200 a month on energy bills and create 625,000 jobs.
"Energy efficiency should be the first source we turn toward to meet energy demand and reduce consumers' bills" said Reid, who is a key figure in the energy and climate bill being considered by Congress. "It creates more jobs than nearly every other energy investment and the cheapest, cleanest, safest energy is the energy we never have to use."