What Energy Crisis? America Needs Access to Its Own Natural Gas Reserves

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

What Energy Crisis? America Needs Access to Its Own Natural Gas Reserves


Byline: Billy Tauzin, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

America is in a crisis.Natural gas prices are the highest in the world.As a result, thousands of Americans are losing their jobs and millions more are paying high utility bills.

Ammonia producers in the state of Louisiana have already been forced to close six plants over the past three years and send 3,000 jobs overseas. Prices that citizens normally pay to heat their homes and stay warm this winter could still double or triple.

Natural gas is the fuel of choice for most Americans.It is more environmentally friendly than coal or nuclear power and more than half of our homes use natural gas for heating, cooking and electricity.Almost all plastics and all the products produced by the petrochemical industry that can be found in your kitchen start out with natural gas as a raw material source. Farmers use natural gas to produce the fertilizer needed for crops that put food on our tables.

But natural gas supplies are shrinking due to the federal government placing heavy restrictions on the exploration for natural gas offshore and on non-park federal lands.The problem is not that we have a shortage of natural gas in America.Our country is blessed with an abundance of natural gas resources - enough to meet our needs for several generations.The problem is that we cannot access these abundant reserves because they are locked down with governmental regulations and restrictions.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan made three appearances on Capitol Hill over the past few months to address this looming problem. During his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which I chair, Mr. Greenspan adamantly stated that there must be an agreeable tradeoff between environmental and energy concerns.

He is right. There is a real conflict in our public policy when it comes to natural gas.On one hand, we have been encouraging the use of natural gas as an environmentally friendly, clean-burning and economical fuel for decades.But on the other, the government has been allowing environmental regulations to restrict access to America's abundant supplies of natural gas - thus causing the "artificial" shortage we now face.

When our committee asked Mr. Greenspan what the government could do in the short term to help avert the potential natural gas crisis, his answer was quite plainly "nothing." In my opinion this is not an acceptable answer from our chief economist.

Too much of the nation's economy depends on natural gas as a raw material source.

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What Energy Crisis? America Needs Access to Its Own Natural Gas Reserves
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