- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Using natural gas the only ‘good news story’
Association exec sees huge benefits for U.S. economy
The path to a national energy policy based largely on natural gas is becoming clearer as economic turmoil and rising oil prices cause lawmakers to take a second look at the clean-burning fuel trapped in underground rock, American Gas Association President and CEO Dave McCurdy said Tuesday.
In a wide-ranging interview, the one-time Democratic congressman from Oklahoma argued that the nation needs an “all-in” approach to break its addiction to foreign oil. He also decried the “fuel wars” that sometimes erupt between those who favor renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and others who believe natural gas, nuclear power and coal have a big role to play in the future.
“If you have a growing economy, this doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game,” Mr. McCurdy told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “The pie is going to get larger. Consumer demand is going to increase.”
With the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region, which stretches from upstate New York south into Kentucky, Mr. McCurdy said the fuel has the potential to become the “foundation” of American energy. Critics contend hydraulic fracturing - the use of water, sand and chemicals to free gas in the Marcellus Shale - is a threat to water supplies and will pollute nearby waterways.
But what those opponents truly fear, he said, is a free market competition between gas and renewable fuels.
“I think a lot of their concern, or their opposition, is a little less about the risk of the actual production [of natural gas] than it is the potential disadvantage that renewables have from a cost standpoint,” he said.
Now that resources have been identified and methods developed to access them, Mr. McCurdy said the business needs “predictability and certainty.” National energy policy, he said, is divorced from the economic reality that natural gas can compete and win in the marketplace while helping move the U.S. away from dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Switching the millions of tractor-trailers on the nation’s roads to natural gas, for example, could save as much as 3 million barrels of oil each day and reduce carbon emissions, he said. Despite such promise, gas remains on the back burner in Washington and investment continues to flow to flavor-of-the-week industries that contribute little to long-term energy security.
“We’re losing our capacity to think strategically,” Mr. McCurdy said. “[I]t’s all short term. It’s all instantaneous. As an industry, we’re just asking government to take a little bit longer of an approach like we do and help us make decisions that can endure.”
At the state level, however, that short-term thinking is being replaced by the realization that natural gas offers not only an alternative to foreign oil but also the creation of thousands of jobs.
In states such as Pennsylvania, where Marcellus Shale drilling revitalized dying towns and kept the unemployment rate below the national average, the political dynamic is beginning to change, Mr. McCurdy said. There always will be critics, but he said they’re having an increasingly hard time demonizing the natural gas industry and the economic boom it often brings.
“There’s really only one good news story out there, and that’s natural gas,” he said.
While Republicans and Democrats in Pennsylvania and other states largely have reached a consensus on the importance of natural gas, other cities and states haven’t followed suit. Pittsburgh and Buffalo, N.Y., for example, have outlawed hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie imposed a one-year moratorium on fracking, rejecting a permanent ban that had been overwhelmingly approved by the state Legislature. Environmental groups called the move “an insult,” while the Marcellus Shale Coalition, comprised of gas-drilling companies, said it was a “purely political statement,” because the shale doesn’t stretch into the Garden State.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- High court likely to allow Obama's clean-air rules
- Funding boost of $100M for mentally ill a 'small step'
- White House PR blitz hits states that rejected Medicaid expansion
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
Latest Blog Entries
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow