Rep. Scott Peters delivered the following remarks at U.S. Energy Stream's Energy Security Forum 2021 in Houston, Texas on April 9, 2021.
"A good friend of mine owns a large defense and energy contracting business in San Diego. He and his family are known for being extremely conservative politically. But we have worked together on defense issues and on next generation energy research, and he was kind enough a while back to host a dinner for me with a number of his friends. After we sat down, he raised his glass and welcomed us all to this “wonderful and bipartisan event.” I thanked him and everyone, looked around and observed, “you know it’s only bipartisan because I showed up.”
That’s a little bit what it’s like for me here today at the Petroleum Club in Houston, Texas, and I am very grateful for the invitation.
We have tremendous challenges, and tremendous opportunities, before us in energy, some commercial and some political.
But this country has never solved any great problem -- whether it’s sending men to the moon, winning a world war, or beating back a global pandemic – with the participation of just one political party. So, I welcome the chance to interact and to understand.
In fact, I think my last trip to this state was when I visited Pioneer Energy in Midland to see production.
I learned a lot about fracking and drilling, and I came away also with an understanding of how this industry is not just an economic feature of Texas, but a cultural one.
I met people whose families had been working energy for generations. It’s hard, honest work and they are proud of it. I’m visiting with some others in your industry here in Houston this week.
I’ve been asked to tell you about the Biden Administration’s policy on energy exports.
The President is attending a global climate summit next month, where the Administration will announce new targets and approaches, and it was always a better bet that they would reveal their plans there rather than tell me so that I could pass them on to you.
In the short term on the world front, it’s my impression that they are concentrating on reestablishing diplomatic relationships in general, and they have not yet announced specific initiatives on all policies, and not on energy exports.
So, while we wait for that, let me tell you what I think they should do if they are interested in American prosperity, world leadership and tackling climate change.
First, it’s a no brainer to promote next generation, American nuclear energy. The UN Panel on Climate Change generally assumes nuclear power to be a part of any pathway to net zero emissions, with nuclear exports being worth $1.3 to $1.9 trillion over the next 30 years, with production of $400 billion of electric power annually.
Second, we could promote the deployment of wind and solar energy, at a utility scale, or where grids are not as developed, as distributed energy sources. These investments, and exports of nuclear technology, are the kind of investments from which American employers and employees could prosper. They could also provide some strategic response to the Chinese and the Russians, who are investing in infrastructure around the world as part of a long-term strategy for dominance.
The Biden Administration will not, I don’t believe, promote the worldwide use of coal. More likely, a climate conscious foreign policy would try to promote the use of alternatives like I mentioned above over the coal supplies that are plentiful and much cheaper in other parts of the world.
And of course, natural gas is a more climate friendly fuel than coal as well.
My Republican colleagues on the Energy and Commerce committee never miss a chance to point out that as a result of the natural gas revolution, our country has not only experienced an historic level of energy independence, but we have also cut our CO2 emissions from energy production.
Two thirds of that increase are attributable to the switch from coal to gas between 2005 and 2018. And that’s true, and that’s great, but there’s still a problem, and that problem is fugitive methane emissions.
Because while burning natural gas produces 40% lower carbon dioxide emissions than burning coal, and 20% lower than oil, almost all that benefit is wiped out if fugitive methane leaks persist at what most estimates put at around 2.5%.
Controlling methane is the single most important step we can take to combat the climate crisis. Let me repeat that: controlling climate is the single most important step we can take to combat the climate crisis. That’s because methane is a super pollutant more potent and harmful than CO2, and is responsible for about 25% of the man-made warming we experience today.
Last year, the French government blocked a power utility in France from signing s $7 billion, 20-year contract to buy LNG from a facility in Brownsville, citing concerns that US natural gas is “too dirty.”
The Center for Liquified Natural Gas trade group suggested that the intervention was likely driven by the EU’s announcement that it would be reviewing its methane emissions strategy to meet even more ambitious overall emissions target by 2030.
The proposals we expect the EU to announce later this year will likely include strengthened monitoring, reporting and verification requirements.
The world markets and domestic politics will not tolerate natural gas as a “bridge fuel” if it’s the same old highway.
We must get methane under control and keep it out of the atmosphere. I’m asking your industry to work with us to develop workable and effective strategies.
We could return to the Obama era rule, which imposes technology standards on new gas facilities, and was headed toward rulemaking on existing facilities. But given advances in technology, I think we can do better.
I’m working on what I hope will be a bipartisan and bicameral approach based on achieving performance standards for methane emissions.
Since we have made substantial advances in monitoring and detection technologies, and these advances are expected to accelerate substantially in the near future, it will be possible to set facility-level performance standards that will provide measurable and predictable methane emission reductions.
This approach offers compliance flexibility, so that regulated entities can invest in methane abatement opportunities that offer the greatest emission reduction potential at the least cost.
Our bill would direct EPA to set methane intensity standards for oil and gas facilities that have substantial levels of emissions. It also allows each facility owner to determine how to meet the relevant standard. The standards must decline (i.e., become more stringent) in three-year increments requiring the oil and gas sector to reach specified methane reduction targets.
The bill also requires the EPA to impose monitoring, detection, repair, and replacement mandates based on the best available technologies. It’s not a unique approach, as it’s the same approach taken by the European Union.
In the last Congress, I introduced the USEIT Act with my Republican friend from West Virginia, Dave McKinley. That bill invested in research into carbon capture utilization and sequestration, dedicating $85 million to research on CCUS, and direct air capture and supports the development of pipelines for CO2 storage. That bill had the support of the industry.
I also cosponsored the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act, which will phase down the use of HFCs as coolants. It too had the support of industry, because without it, our own domestic manufacturers would have been at a competitive disadvantage versus international players. Both bills, bipartisan and supported by the business community, passed as part of the FY 2021 Omnibus Appropriations bill. They are probably the most significant climate actions we’ve taken since I’ve been in Congress.
Now is the time for us to work together in good faith to control methane, so that our businesses can compete, so that our planet can thrive, so that our children, and their children, can grow up in a world with clean water and clean air, and so that we can be good stewards of God’s creation for generations after that.
Thanks for inviting me. I’m happy to take your questions."