Speaking here at AGA today at a meeting of the Natural Gas Council, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar took a decidedly middle of the road approach to energy production on federal lands.
AGA president and CEO Dave Parker, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and AGA chairman and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Piedmont Natural Gas Tom Skains.
He indicated that the environmental community may be unhappy with him because he believes that our country will continue to depend upon and use fossil fuel energy for years to come, and that his department will lease more areas for oil and gas exploration and production, not less.
That said, he also indicated that energy companies may not be happy with him either as many areas will remain closed or tightly restricted. He expects continuing disagreement over public land use. Before moving forward to lease areas for energy development, he said, more information is needed, particularly on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) where available data is decades old.
The series of four OCS field hearings scheduled for next month, which the Secretary will personally attend, are designed to gather information from stakeholders and will help guide the Interior Department’s planning. More information is available here.
Secretary Salazar had good things to say about natural gas, acknowledging its efficiency, especially when used directly by the consumer, its cleanliness and abundant domestic supply. Salazar says that the Obama Administration knows that natural gas is part of the solution, but he wondered aloud about whether those in Congress or the general public know this and said that we need to do a better job of telling our story. Of this there is little disagreement.