The natural gas lobby gets fired up

The natural gas industry did a poor job of getting itself included in the House version of the climate change bill (vs. coal, which got lots of perks), but they’ll be damned if the same thing happens in the Senate bill. Exhibit 1 in that effort: a study about how important the industry is to the U.S.
Done by IHS Global Insight on behalf of the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the finds the gas industry (as separate from the oil industry) contributed $385 billion to the U.S. economy in 2008, over $180 billion for salaries alone.

A plant operator walks by at the Enterprise Products’ Meeker Gas Plant in the Piceance Basin on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. (Johnny Hanson/Chronicle).

Other findings:

Total Natural Gas Employment: 3 Million in 2008, including more than 622,000 jobs directly in the industry and 2.2 million jobs that were either indirectly related or induced by the industry’s economic impact.
• Natural gas jobs increased 17 percent from 2006-08, adding 100,000 direct jobs and antoher 300,000 indirect jobs.
• Natural gas jobs are spread across the country, with more than 30 states with at least 10,000 jobs related to the industry.

Just how many jobs do those other whimpy industries provide,the study asks? Just 127,246 renewable power generation jobs in the U.S., (Global Insight did that report for the U.S. Conference of Mayors in October 2008). And that dirty coal industry? Just 122,930 direct jobs and supports 555,650 jobs, according to the National Mining Association. The nuclear power industry’s contribution? 100,000 jobs, according to the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.
Exhibit 2 in the gas lobby effort: A poll done for the gas industry that found “more than 75 percent of the American public expect natural gas to play a significant role in our nation’s energy future.”
Funded by ANGA and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group, the survey identified three key areas of strong public support for natural gas:

1. The national security issue since the overwhelming majority of natural gas used in the U.S. is produced domestically in America;
2. The economic value of natural gas in its ability to create new jobs and significant economic impact in America; and
3. The environmental value of natural gas in its ability to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases.

Americans also report a fairly high degree of familiarity with natural gas, the poll finds. Sixty-nine percent (69%) report being very or somewhat familiar with natural gas, and more than half (56%) reported using it in their homes.
However, while Americans feel they have some basic knowledge about natural gas, they feel far from comfortable enough to consider themselves “very familiar” with how it is used. In fact, just 16% would consider themselves “very familiar” with natural gas, providing an opportunity for natural gas to educate the public about its uses and benefits.
Of course Houstonians don’t need to be convinced of the importance of natural gas, but ANGA said there’s plenty of need to educate the rest of the country.