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September 19, 2011
Brattle Principal Steve Levine Contributes to National Petroleum Council Study

Brattle principal Steve Levine contributed to a National Petroleum Council (NPC) study that reassessed the potential of North American natural gas and oil resources, as well as the contribution that natural gas can make in a transition to a lower carbon energy mix. The report, which was released on September 15, 2011, involved over 400 participants, half of whom came from outside the oil and gas industry. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that the report would be “very useful in guiding policy.” The NPC study found that North America has abundant gas and oil resources that could last 100 years, at current rates of consumption, if they are developed in an environmentally responsible and “prudent” way. The report made a number of policy recommendations, including the creation of regional "councils of excellence" for companies to share best environmental and safety practices and communicate more directly with state and local residents. The study also recommended a national carbon policy that includes placing a price on carbon as a means of accelerating the shift to more environmentally friendly sources of power generation. Mr. Levine was on the “End-Use Emissions and Carbon Regulation” subgroup that authored a chapter on “Carbon and Other Emissions in the End-Use Sectors.” The chapter analyzes the contribution that natural gas can make towards a lower carbon energy future by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases as well as criteria pollutants and mercury. It also identifies policy and technology options that could help achieve those reductions. The chapter explains that there are various tradeoffs to pursuing some policies over others. Some policies offer the prospect for relatively near-term emissions reductions, such as finalization of EPA regulations (which could result in coal plant retirements and increased natural gas-fired generation). Other policies, such as requiring carbon capture and sequestration on new gas-fired power plants, may make only a substantial impact in the longer term. The authors also discuss the various tradeoffs in more detail and provide examples of policy options and frameworks for the accelerated deployment of natural gas end-use technologies that can reduce emissions. To download the full report, including Mr. Levine’s chapter, please visit the NPC website.