- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In Patrice Hill’s article “Legislation relies on natural gas, but critics see pipe dream” (Page 1, Friday), Frank Clemente, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, cites the history of rapid demand increase as extensive power generation turned to natural gas - which led to prices increasing until supplies could respond - as a reason not to rely on natural gas.

Since the late 1990s, the industry has used advanced technology to increase massively the available production of domestic natural gas. In fact, just since the period prior to the hurricane season in 2005, the United States has added secure, hurricane- and embargo-proof onshore domestic production that annually exceeds the energy value of all the oil we import from Saudi Arabia.

One of the factors that might have exacerbated any demand-supply tension in the late 1990s and early 2000s was the failure to recognize this vast domestic potential. Thus, an increasing reliance on imported supplies was advocated and developed, marginal pricing of supplies began tracking global oil-equivalent prices, and an overall lack of confidence in future domestic supplies led to prices being bid up.

Now, based on resources that already have been located and confirmed and based on technology that already is in hand, this industry has the ability to increase U.S. natural-gas supplies by 50 percent in the next 20 to 25 years, with an underlying resource base that will last into the next century.

Mr. Clemente’s admonition not to enact any climate-change policy because he does not trust the availability of our cleanest fossil fuel should be treated for what it is - a desire on the part of the coal industry not to be affected by a carbon cap.

Natural gas is the only domestic energy source that is able to lower carbon emissions and move us toward energy independence and economic security.

RICHARD G. SMEAD

Director

Navigant Consulting Inc.

Houston

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