DENVER — Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman presided over a series of panel discussions regarding natural gas and climate change for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Denver, Colorado from Sunday to Wednesday. NARUC’s Summer Committee Meetings took place with representatives from industry, regulators, academics and other experts participating in discussions covering a broad range of issues related to natural gas and other utilities.
Chairman Smitherman serves as Chairman of the Gas Committee for NARUC. The purpose of the Gas Committee is to increase awareness and understanding of issues related to the transportation, distribution and sale of natural gas, which is a key fuel source for the nation.
“With our nation’s natural gas reserves now estimated at 2,700 trillion cubic feet and a proven record as a clean, efficient fuel, natural gas and its production is at the forefront of the U.S. economy today,” Smitherman said. “This production is creating a surge in our economy, resulting in thousands of high-paying jobs."
The Gas Committee, under the guidance of Chairman Smitherman, heard presentations and debate regarding innovative approaches to regulatory rate-making; the significance of exporting LNG; improving pipeline safety; and the future of shale gas. Carbon pollution, cap-and-trade and carbon tax were also issues debated at the Summer Meeting.
A key panel for the Gas Committee at the Summer Meeting was The Myth of Carbon Pollution, which featured a presentation by noted scientist Dr. William Happer, professor in the Department of Physics at Princeton University. Dr. Happer’s well-attended speech highlighted arguments against global warming, including the fact that world temperatures have been changing for hundreds of years and will continue to do so, regardless of human impact and increasing or decreasing amounts of carbon dioxide.
Chairman Smitherman said, “Not since the Manhattan Project have we seen the federal government so focused on one objective –the reduction of CO2. And yet, without any federal policy presently in place, CO2 emissions in the U.S., according to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, fell in 2012 to their lowest levels in two decades. President Obama’s directive to EPA to finalize carbon standards for new and existing power generating units was not done through an act of Congress, but rather through a Presidential Memorandum.
"Given the incredibly high percentage of fossil fuels used to make electricity in America and given electricity’s fundamental role in powering our U.S. economy, we should be 100 percent certain about CO2’s role – or lack thereof – in 'changing the climate' before President Obama, by Presidential directive, dismantles our power generation fleet," Smitherman said.
Chairman Barry Smitherman was appointed to the Railroad Commission of Texas in July 2011, and was elected Chairman in February 2012. In November 2012, Chairman Smitherman won a statewide election to the Commission with 74 percent of the vote, receiving more than 4.5 million votes. Chairman Smitherman currently serves as Texas’ representative on both the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Southern States Energy Board, and as Chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Gas Committee. He is on the Visiting Committee of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas School of Law Center for Global Energy, International Arbitration, and Environmental Law, and the Eanes Education Foundation Advisory Board.