Sunday, November 7, 2010

Obama's Enthusiasm for Gas Drilling Raises Eyebrows

[This article was originally posted on on 11.4.2010]

By MIKE SORAGHAN of Greenwire

President Obama's newfound interest in expanded natural gas drilling yesterday surprised many on all sides of the drilling debate, from environmentalists to drillers and even the coal industry.

"Representatives of drilling groups said they had no idea that Obama would make natural gas his lead olive branch to the newly empowered Capitol Hill Republicans. But they were pleased that he did.

"I was surprised by the venue," said Chris Tucker, spokesman for Energy In Depth, a drilling industry group formed to fight off federal regulation of shale gas drilling.

Obama's remarks seemed to refer to vast new sources of shale gas in Pennsylvania, Texas and their neighboring states. Improvements in "hydraulic fracturing" technology have allowed production from formations under those states previously thought to be too expensive to exploit (E&ENews PM, Nov. 3).

"We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country," Obama said when he was pressed for issues on which he could compromise with Republican leaders. "Are we doing everything we can to develop those?"

Tucker said Obama's remarks were in line with the actions of some of his Cabinet departments.

"The president's remarks yesterday fit perfectly with a State Department that is actively looking to export the shale revolution globally, an Energy Department that views shale as a fuel with enormous potential for our future and an EPA that has consistently stated that the technology needed to produce shale gas is safe," Tucker said.

Another gas group, America's Natural Gas Alliance, called Obama's remarks "And they were his strongest public comments to date in support of natural gas."

But not everyone sees gas drilling as so "terrific." Environmentalists are worried that the "hydraulic fracturing" technology used to pry loose the gas could contaminate drinking water."

To read the remainder of the article in its entirety--including the mystery of why the topic of natural gas drilling even arose at this press conference, please click HERE.

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