*UPDATE* Natural Gas: Something Both Rs and Ds Can Agree On

UPDATE (4:28 pm ET, 10/26/2012): According to recent analysis by the Manhattan Institute, the presidential candidates’ approach to responsible oil and natural gas development could just make or break election day tallies. Why? Because the economic benefits being delivered by responsible shale development are most noticeable in the swing states. According to the Institute:

Five electoral ‘swing states’ are among the 12 states that stand to gain the most from policies that would promote the {oil and natural gas} boom. Over a half-million jobs would be generated in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Colorado. …New employment from hydrocarbons could amount to one-fifth to three-fourths of the jobs needed by people in over 20 states counted as unemployed or underemployed, including Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. While hydrocarbon jobs can’t be the only answer to the country’s staggering jobs deficit, they represent the largest single opportunity for near-term jobs, and one that requires no federal spending. The broad economic benefits that come from privately-financed expansions in domestic production would generate at least $2 trillion for the country.  Put another way, each hydrocarbon job created brings an average societal benefit of $500,000 per job.”

Original post from September 7, 2012

With the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions now all wrapped up — and the election only two months away – many Americans across the nation are asking themselves an important question: where we are going and who is best to take us there? And while the two parties may have significant disagreements on a host of significant issues, the topic of natural gas has proven itself a truly bipartisan issue with strong support from both sides of the aisle.

From President Obama (D), to New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg (I), to Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (R), America’s leaders recognize the undeniable benefits of this abundant natural resource. Consider:

Both Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama have highlighted the important role of natural gas within their platforms and speeches:

President Obama: “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.” (State of the Union address, 1/24/12)

President Obama: “We’re offering a better path … where we develop a hundred-year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.” (President Barack Obama’s DNC Speech, 9/7/12)

Democratic Platform: “Our dependence on foreign oil is now at a 16-year low, and a new era of cheap, abundant natural gas is helping to bring jobs and industry back to the United States…We can move towards a sustainable energy-independent future if we harness all of America’s great natural resources.” [Link]

Republican candidate Mitt Romney: “Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. Recent discoveries suggest that  the United States may have a 100-year supply beneath our land. Extracting this gas requires “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing, coupled for these purposes with  horizontal drilling), and will also entail significant investments in pipelines and  associated infrastructure to distribute the greater volumes of gas.” [Link]

Republican Platform: “All estimates of America’s oil and natural gas reserves indicate an incredible bounty for the use of many generations to come. At a time when unemployment has been above 8 percent for 42 consecutive months, the longest stretch since the Great Depression, and some 23 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed, or have given up on finding work, we should be pursuing our oil and gas resources both on and offshore.” [Link]

President Obama’s White House energy adviser Heather Zichal has also touted the administration’s support of natural gas development:

Zichal: “The president has made clear that he believes this important, abundant domestic resource [natural gas] holds unique promise to fuel our energy sector, fuel our vehicles, as well as fuel job growth — all while reducing harmful emissions.” (FuelFix, 5/31/12)

President Bill Clinton’s (D) Former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson (and former Governor of New Mexico) spoke out in support of natural gas development, urging Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to move forward with development in the state, noting that natural gas is “the way to go”:

Natural gas is the future. It is here,” said Richardson, who headed the Energy Department under former President Bill Clinton. … “If there is going to be fracking, it’s got to be done right,” he said. “The governor is approaching this right, doing it with a lot of data,” he said. “Fracking is doable if there’s full disclosure of all chemicals used. Secondly, science dictates the policy rather than politics. Third, there’s collaboration between environmental groups and the natural gas industry.” (New York Post, 12/23/12)

Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper (D), a former petroleum geologist, has been outspoken about the promise of natural gas—and the proven safety record of hydraulic fracturing:

“Everybody in this room understands that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t connect to the groundwater…It’s almost inconceivable that we would ever contaminate, through the fracking process, the groundwater.”  (Durango Herald, 9/2/11)

Along with Gov. Hickenlooper, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and many other governors have been promoting the development and use of natural gas in the nation’s automotive fleets:

“Natural gas vehicles provide clean, affordable transportation that can increase our nation’s energy security and bolster economic development,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “We believe there is strong interest in natural gas vehicles and we want to leverage the collective purchasing power of state fleets to jumpstart that market. These meetings will help establish a mutually beneficial partnership between the 13 states on the agreement and the auto companies.” (PR Newswire, 7/16/12)

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) recently teamed up with and hydraulic fracturing pioneer George Mitchell to discuss the importance of natural gas for the nation and the city of New York:

“The production of shale gas through fracking is the most significant development in the U.S. energy sector in generations, and it affords four major benefits that people on both sides of the debate should welcome.

“First, it’s good for consumers’ pocketbooks by helping to reduce energy costs. … Second, fracking spurs economic growth by bringing industrial jobs back to the United States — jobs that left several years ago when domestic natural-gas supplies were considered scarce and expensive. … Third, fracking reduces U.S. dependence on coal, which is one of the best things we can do to improve air quality and fight climate change. … Finally, done right, today’s more nimble natural gas plants even allow more renewable power to be integrated into the electricity grid than coal does. … We can frack safely if we frack sensibly. That may not make for a great bumper sticker. It does make for good environmental and economic policy.” (Washington Post, 8/23/12; See also: Wall Street Journal, 8/28/12)

Former NY Governor George Pataki (R) has expressed adamant support for the enormous benefits of natural gas, both for the environment and our economy:

“The benefits of these natural gas reserves for our economy would be enormous, even transformational. Domestic natural gas waiting to be unlocked will give us the opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while making our air cleaner through the use of more natural gas in electric power generation and transportation.

“Then there’s this not-insignificant point: The development of the Marcellus Shale formation means jobs and investment throughout New York. Right now, these jobs are being created directly across the border in Pennsylvania. According to a recent report by the Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Department, from October 2009 through March 2010 a staggering 48,000 new jobs were created by the industry and its related supply chain. (New York Daily News, 12/1/11)

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) highlighted the benefits he has seen in his state as a result of natural gas production:

“U.S. Sen. Bob Casey met with leaders of area companies that provide services to the natural gas industry on Tuesday, and said he walked away from the meeting with a greater sense of the potential and actual economic impact natural gas is having in Northeastern Pennsylvania. “I think if anything, folks in government need to have more conversations more interactions with folks in the private sector on this, because you learn a lot,” Casey, D-Scranton, said.” (Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, 8/22/12)

Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp has outlined his support for natural gas as a clean-burning resource that offers significant benefits over other sources:

Krupp: “Natural gas burns cleaner than coal, emits less in the way of greenhouse gases, and avoids mercury and other pollutants from coal.” (Bloomberg, 11/3/12)

With all of the benefits of natural gas, it’s little wonder why people from all walks of life and all political backgrounds support this clean burning, CO2 reducing, job creating, domestic energy resource.

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