American Gas Association

THE AMERICAN GAs Association (AGA) is a national trade organization composed of natural gas-providing companies. This large group of companies, founded in 1918, was organized to better represent the interests of natural gas providers at the legislative level. The AGA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill. According to the AGA, nearly one-quarter of American energy is supplied by natural gas.

The AGA vision statement is "[T]o be the most effective and influential energy trade association in the United States while providing clear value to its membership." Membership includes 200 companies providing natural gas service to their local communities. The AGA and its members deliver 92 percent of the United States' natural gas supplies. Member companies represent suppliers from all 50 states. The companies are privately-owned, publicly-traded, or municipally-owned. Natural gas distribution companies in the United States are considered full members of the AGA. Additionally, brokers, distributors, gatherers, marketers, pipelines, and storage facilities can be Associate Members of the AGA if they are in North America; natural gas distribution companies in Mexico and Canada may also be associate members. Finally, international or international-affiliate memberships are extended to those companies beyond North America that support international communication between natural gas companies and governments.

Membership privileges include conferences and courses for company executive directors and other employees covering topics such as finances and investments, as well as compensations, legislation, and customer service. Members can also elect to receive newsletters. The five newsletters are the Associate Update, Executive Bulletin, Financial Edge, International Bulletin, and Operations Bimonthly Review.

The AGA also provides written documents related to the use of natural gas and current concerns about climate change and global warming. On February 19, 2007, the company released the "AGA Climate Change Principles," outlining how changes can be made that would result in natural gas being a safer, more environmentally responsible form of energy. Another document from the same day, the "AGA Climate Change Talking Points," outlines various significant facts about natural gas, focusing on the improved efficiency of modern appliances and industrial machines, low rate of emissions compared to coal and fuel oil; and arguing for construction of domestic natural gas plants, access to natural gas wells, and the construction of other plants and factories in the United States that would use natural gas power. The organization does not offer a solution to the problem of natural gas wells in protected areas. Nevertheless, due to limited availability of natural gas, AGA proposes research into alternate energy sources as a complement to natural gas; namely, solar and wind power, along with cleaner coal and oil fuel usage.

To further disseminate information about issues concerning natural gas, the AGA publishes a magazine approximately every two months, American Gas Magazine. Issues are focused by theme, including technology and partnerships, legislation, natural gas supply, and even climate change. The climate change issue (August/September 2007) provides information to its readership about carbon footprint reduction and how using natural gas directly for power, rather than using it to generate electricity, provides a cleaner energy source. Because of the relative environmental and economic benefits of natural gas, the AGA has adopted the slogan Natural Gas: the Nation's Energy Advantage.

A board of directors manages the AGA. A total of 45 of the full member companies have senior executives on the AGA board. The board is composed of a chair, a president and chief executive officer, officers, directors, and non-voting advisory directors. The Environmental Regulatory Action Committee (ERAC) is a sub-committee in AGA. Its members report to the Government Relations Policy Committee and the Operations Sections Managing Committee. ERAC acts on behalf of AGA to influence environmental legislation. The sub-committee writes documents defending its statements, testifies when needed, recommends pertinent legislation, and otherwise deals with matters concerning environmental legislation.

The AGA website offers information for members, policy makers, and the public. Summaries of congressional hearings and legislations are available, as well as information on the stance of the AGA on issues regarding natural gas, the environment, and energy. Information is also available on statistics such as trends in natural gas usage and prices. For example, the website states that the average annual residential gas cost rose from $597 per consumer in 1996 to $935 in 2005. Additionally, in 2005 the average gas price was three and one-half times higher in the second-most expensive state (Florida) than the least expensive state (Alaska). The most expensive state was Hawaii, with an average gas price that was another one and one-half times higher than that of Florida. When examined by region, New England pays more for gas than any other region, with the South Atlantic states close behind.

SEE ALSO: Emissions, Baseline; Energy; Energy, Renewable; Natural Gas; Policy, International.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Robert Gasch and Jochen Twele, eds., Wind Power Plants: Fundamentals, Design, Construction and Operation (Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2004); Paul Gipe, Wind Power, Revised Edition: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business (Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 2004); P.M. Parker, The World Market for Liquefied Natural Gas: A 2007 Global Trade Perspective (ICON Group International, Inc., 2006); Bob Shively and John Ferrare, Understanding Today's Natural Gas Business (Self, 2003); F.J. Sturm, Trading Natural Gas: A Nontechnical Guide (Pennwell Books, 1997).

Claudia Winograd University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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