Roll Call

If the disruption in energy politics caused by a flood of cheap natural gas feels familiar, there’s a reason. Energy policy is being transfigured alongside the energy economy by technology advances that have allowed access to enormous reserves of natural gas. The fuel is so abundant that production has swollen to near-unmanageable levels for pipelines and storage hubs even as prices have fallen near or below costs to produce it. It is hard to argue with the reality: The American Gas Association says reserves estimates have risen to 2,100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as of the end of 2011, a century’s worth of supply. That is disruptive, regardless of the acknowledged potential for hyperbole in industry forecasts. Politicians are noticing that even ExxonMobil – a mainstay of the oil lobby that has set the tone and pace of U.S. energy policy – is increasingly a gas company, not an oil company. The company is investing billions of dollars in new supply ($40 billion on buying XTO Energy, for starters) and says it expects natural gas demand to rise 60 percent through 2040 as coal use declines.