Read my latest response on the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to the question, “What significance does President Obama’s State of the Union address have for his administration’s energy and climate policy?”
What can President Obama do to address America’s concerns about climate change and energy policy?
The short answer is that, whether we are talking about creating jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, being more energy efficient or increasing our energy independence, natural gas is a natural fit. With this in mind, President Obama should consider several specific steps:
First, ensure continued access to our vast domestic natural gas resource base, especially the abundant shale gas that we are now producing.
Continued, steady production from these shale plays is a key component, not only in creating new jobs – often in areas of the country where jobs are desperately needed – but also in helping to foster greater price stability, which will help ensure a cost-effective means to meet the growing energy needs of our economy. Increasing our efforts to maximize the many benefits of natural gas will also help to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Second, the president should make clear that natural gas must be a central part of any energy policy that the 112th Congress considers. If Congress moves forward on a renewable or clean energy standard, natural gas should be included as a compliance option. Policymakers should pursue a “smart energy” grid that ensures the right fuel mix is in place to achieve the greatest emissions reductions and energy savings. The fuel mix in such a “smart energy” approach will require the increased use of natural gas in America’s homes and businesses. And when used directly, natural gas delivers nearly three times more usable energy compared to electricity.
Third, he should look to our country’s rich supply of innovation and technological creativity to address some of our most pressing issues. The United States is home to many of the world’s leading alternative energy and carbon-neutral researchers, creative thinkers and entrepreneurs. Some are academics seeking to develop low-impact resources for idealistic reasons, while others are traditional energy companies looking to capitalize on the green energy market. Both should be encouraged because fundamentally shifting the very concepts of energy and energy supply will be an expensive and long journey.
There is no “app” for clean energy, but there is a strategy and, given time, it will bear fruit: (1) ensure access to America’s abundant, domestic natural gas resources; (2) draft a comprehensive energy policy that focuses on the effective utilization of natural gas; and (3) support and encourage the development of efficient, low-emission energy technologies.