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Federal policy affects cost of toll on bridge to U.S. energy future

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: February 3, 2014

THERE'S nothing like boosting the worth of a vital commodity at a time when it doesn't need much of a boost.

Consumption of natural gas is soaring because of cold weather, yet President Barack Obama used part of his State of the Union address to encourage greater consumption of ... natural gas.

Two stars are crossed here. First, the global warming over which Obama expresses so much alarm isn't in evidence. It's so cold that gas consumption is running at record levels. January set seven of the top 10 all-time demand days for gas.

Second, since fossil fuels are believed to be causing the climate change that isn't happening now, Obama wants gas to be a bridge to a starry, starry night in which all energy needs will be supplied by renewable sources. But current conditions indicate that gas is a bridge that was built long ago: About half of U.S. households now use natural gas as a primary heating source.

Obama's friends in the climate change alarmist community would prefer that natural gas not be a bridge to anything. Having urged us to move beyond coal, they'd prefer we also move beyond oil, tar sands, natural gas, propane, CNG, LNG and presumably kerosene and whale oil as well.

Bridges run in two directions. The federal Energy Information Agency says that even by 2035, renewables will account for only 16 percent of electricity generation. The winner and still champion at that time, with a 39 percent share, will be ... coal. This represents a gradual increase for renewables and decline for coal.

The reality is that gas will take over some of coal's share of the electricity generation market regardless of what happens in Washington. But what happens in Washington could determine the price of the toll for crossing the bridge to our energy future. Gas supplies have been abundant because of energy industry innovation and pro-industry public policy in most producing states.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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