Suddenly abundant -- and surprisingly inexpensive -- natural gas is changing the U.S. energy game, resetting the board and revolutionizing the rules. At the same time, China’s ascendance as a top energy consumer is disrupting established energy markets. All the while, technology is stepping relentlessly higher, creating new opportunities and challenges with each innovation. And public attitudes about energy and the environment continue to respond to these realities. The third annual Vail Global Energy Forum, to be held March 1-2, 2014, in Beaver Creek, Colo., will examine these events, their consequences and directions that public policy should take going forward.

Such distinguished speakers as George P. Shultz , former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury; John Hickenlooper , governor of Colorado; Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), former chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and David Danielson , Assistant Secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, U.S. Department of Energy, will share their views about energy policy. Topics range from the state of the energy economy, to prospects for global energy security, to technologies for renewable energy.

The broad picture of U.S. natural gas resources -- the volumes in place and the percentage that can potentially be recovered -- will be painted by Jim Brown , president, western hemisphere, Halliburton Co . (NYSE: HAL). Tom Petrie , chairman, Petrie Partners LLC , will talk about the U.S. shale gas revolution and the economic consequences of U.S. energy independence.

The surfeit of domestic natural gas the U.S. enjoys today means that gas is taking on new and expanded roles in the nation’s energy portfolio. Dennis Beal , vice president, global vehicles, FedEx Express (NYSE: FDX), will share his view of the evolution of natural gas as a transportation fuel and David Montgomery , senior vice president, NERA Economic Consulting , will discuss economic impacts of expanding U.S. natural gas exports.

“We’re going to look at how much natural gas we really expect to be finding, how we should be using that natural gas, and the environmental, security and economic consequences of alternative uses,” says Dr. James Sweeney , director, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University, and a conference chairman.

Prominent speakers will also address the impact of the large-scale natural gas production on the environment. Clearly, in the combustion cycle, natural gas burns more cleanly than coal. “The question is: Are there other leakages