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More natural gas exploration could help consumers, CA member tells congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources' Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard in testimony from a Consumer Alert Advisory Council member that unnecessary restrictions on natural gas exploration hurt consumers. In his testimony on July 16, Glenn R. Schleede pointed to the increasingly important role that natural gas plays in meeting the nation's energy needs. Schleede argued that the competition for the available supplies of natural gas will increase, particularly for its use in electric generation, and this will lead to additional price increases for consumers.

He pointed out that other energy sources, such as coal, petroleum, nuclear, and hydropower are increasingly restricted. Alternative energy sources, such as wind power and solar, are limited in their application, heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and present their own environmental problems.

In concluding his statement, Schleede identified several actions policymakers could take to limit adverse effects on consumers as the demand for natural gas increases:

* Recognize that oil and natural gas exploration and production can be carried out in an environmentally responsible manner.

* Remove unnecessary restrictions on oil and natural gas exploration and production, particularly on federally controlled lands and offshore platforms.

* Reduce any unnecessary barriers to the construction of gas pipelines so that capacity will be available to move gas from areas where it is available to markets.

* Encourage the Administration to lift tariffs on steel imports that are increasing the price of building pipelines.

* Encourage state and local governments to remove taxes and fees (including so-called "public benefit charges") from natural gas bills, particularly those that vary with the dollar amount of the bill. Such "percentage of bill" charges give consumers a double hit when gas prices rise (i.e., higher price for gas AND higher tax).
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Publication:Consumer Comments
Date:Jun 22, 2002
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