If policy changes restrict access to supply, prices will go up. Policy is already dictating that U.S. coal will be left in the ground or exported, thereby forgoing a chance to keep energy prices relatively low by encour-aging a mix of fuel sources for heating and electricity generation. The bridge to our energy future should include a lane for coal, one for gas and others for oil, renewables, nuclear and other sources.
Our destination should still be focused on renewables, but wind and solar should not get a dedicated, crony capitalist lane on the bridge. Every fuel source will be needed to promote economic growth and keep heating and electricity costs at an affordable level while renewables continue their gradual ascent.
Obama checked his own enthusiasm for gas as a bridge fuel by injecting the caveat “if extracted safely.” This is either naive or pandering. Energy exploration and production is messy; the environmental community will never concede that hydraulic fracturing is safe. Indeed, the greens reacted to the speech by noting that while gas is cleaner than coal, it's still quite dirty and should be viewed as a lesser evil but an evil nevertheless.
The gas industry should feel encouraged that Obama has renewed his earlier enthusiasm for natural gas to heat and power this country. But when the rubber hits the deck on the bridge to our energy future, federal policy must not overly regulate the exploration and production of vital commodities, including oil and gas.