Interagency Task Force Examines U.S. Natural Gas Supply

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced the formation of a new interagency group that, in the interest of energy security and consumer affordability, will focus on identifying specific near- and long-term actions that could expand domestic natural gas supplies.

Secretary Abraham said the new Interagency Working Group (IWG) will also examine the findings of the National Petroleum Council's (NPC) September 2003 Natural Gas Study and determine the study's consistency with the President's National Energy Policy.

"The National Petroleum Council's Natural Gas Study illustrates a fundamental shift in the natural gas supply and demand balance that has resulted in higher prices and volatility in recent years," Secretary Abraham said. "The NPC report reminds us that America faces serious challenges concerning natural gas. These challenges affect all Americans, from senior citizens on fixed incomes struggling to pay their heating bills, to workers in natural-gas intensive industries. If we do nothing, the problems experienced in recent years will only get worse."

IWG representatives will come from the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and Interior; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Interagency Working Group will seek balanced and comprehensive actions to ensure greater energy efficiency and to find new natural gas supply sources. Implementation of some of the recommendations may require the Federal government to serve in a facilitator/coordinator role to achieve a harmonized response by all parties. Many of the recommendations could involve action by the States, Congress and other countries.

A series of public workshops are planned to review recommendations from the 2003 NPC study. Representatives from government, stakeholders, industry representatives and the general public will be invited to participate in these workshops. The first workshop will be held in Washington, DC on June 21. Findings and outcomes from the workshop will be presented at the regularly scheduled meeting of the NPC on June 22.

Additional information concerning the first workshop will be publicized in the near future.
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