Across the country there are cities and municipalities that are converting fleet vehicles from traditional gas engines into much cleaner burning natural gas vehicles. Cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York are converting buses and other city vehicles. Additionally there are power companies converting traditional gas, steam and coal fired plants onto natural gas plants. In a small town in Gilbert Arizona, Salt River Project (SRP) the states leading energy producer converted an aging plant into a much cleaner burning natural gas facility. The overall cost of this project was $541 million and created generating capacity of 1193 megawatts while reducing emission substantially (1002 tons). The expansion created jobs, reduced costs to consumers and maintained an eye towards environmental concerns. Compare the investment in retrofitting and expanding this plant with the crony capitalism that was Solyndra, the now bankrupt Solar Panel manufacturer. While solar power or any other alternative energy resource like wind or tide or geothermal are real they are also in their infancy and not the answer today. What we need right now are jobs and a solution to our energy needs and utilizing an abundant resource like natural gas could accelerate prosperity. Encouraging our energy producers rather than punishing them is the solution.
I mentioned the Salt River Project plant conversion for a reason, “Natural Gas.” In recent years we have uncovered a vast amount of this energy resource right here in this country. In Louisiana alone the Haynesville Shale discovery has revealed 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and some industry officials believe that those are conservative estimates and the find could actually be several times larger. To put this into perspective that is the equivalent of approximately 33 billion barrels of oil, enough to meet our current demands for 17 plus years. The story doesn’t end in Louisiana; vast fields have been discovered in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and right here in Texas. These fields hold and estimated 2,200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Understand that these discoveries arise as the reality of oil declines. Most of the oil consumed by America is imported and we already know that our oil suppliers are at best “unfriendly” to America. Juxtapose that with the fact that 98% of the natural gas consumed in the United States actually comes from this continent, North America. The exploration, production and distribution of natural gas mean real jobs for Americans. As I have written about in earlier pieces these jobs inside the industry also create demand for other jobs in the supporting communities in areas like retail, housing and service to name a few. Energy jobs are sustainable jobs, they are not public works jobs born out of political desperation in tough economies. These are the jobs that see us through difficult times; they create promise and prosperity for this generation and the next.
Advancing our energy future requires thinking outside the box we find ourselves in, it requires that we don’t settle for the business as usual way of thinking and we begin to explore the intelligent usage of our natural resources. For far too long we have demonized many of our natural resources. Across this great nation under our feet exist massive potential for growth and prosperity. Natural Gas is an abundant treasure whose full potential has yet to be realized. The sad fact is that rather than embracing a tangible reality we have opted to pursue pipe dreams based on manipulated fear. Over and over we have heard the steady drumbeat that we are killing our planet and that we must all bow at the altar of “Renewable” energy. The reality is that renewable energy is simply not ready for prime time and it cannot shoulder the energy needs of this nation. But that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration and his thugs at the EPA from intimidation and fear mongering. Rather than embracing our natural resources they have decided to mandate change through heavy-handed regulations. They have decided to fix the game when it comes to their energy agenda and use your money to do it.
Rather than investing in boondoggles like converting our entire energy sector into the myth that is “Green” perhaps we should begin to invest in the infrastructure that has seen this nation blossom into the industrialized envy of the world. Imagine that if the Obama administration had invested the $540 million plus that they invested in Solyndra and taken that money and invested it in retrofitting many of the old gas, steam and coal fired plants into natural gas fired power plants, a much cleaner and more efficient method of generating electricity. Perhaps the administration could have invested in expanding clean coal through processes like gasification and sequestration. The point is that this current administration has less interest in advancing energy independence than they do in chasing their ideology. If the goal was to truly win the future, truly win the jobs of the future then it is time for this administration to explain why the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee program has backed $36.8 billion on 42 clean power projects. Of those, 74% of those loans have been in the area of Solar Power. Why pour so much into something that cannot support our energy needs while ignoring the natural resources that sit untapped beneath our feet? Natural gas is an abundant, clean and viable source of energy, it is real, it is tangible and it can meet the demands of a nation screaming for jobs and energy independence. Mr. President, if you are going to invest our money then why don’t you start investing it winners rather than losers.