Across the country, scores of coal plants are shutting down and many nuclear plants are at risk of closing. Consequently, natural gas is in great demand for electricity production. But serious supply problems have developed from a shortage of gas due to a failure to overturn moratoriums on the construction of new pipelines. This problem dwarfs anything likely to happen with the rest of the power sector.
Natural gas is a wonderful fuel – clean burning, produced domestically, and plentiful – and power plants fueled with natural gas have many advantages. Current trends, however, indicate that serious stresses are building due to a shortage of gas pipelines. If natural gas can't get to market, no one will drill for it. This could mean trouble for an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And it could expose consumers of natural gas to much higher gas and electricity prices and loss of reliability. Some parts of the country, particularly the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, have already had warnings about the negative economic impacts of pipeline shortages.