I’m unoriginal, I know. I’m also a Rolling Stones fan, so saying that puts a good tune in my head.
Gas is a hot, hot topic these days–in particular natural gas. As we here at Spinach previously highlighted for you, one of the ways in which we obtain natural gas is through a practice known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Fracking is a questionable practice for a host of reasons (see El C’s crunchie on this topic, plus the recent Youngstown, Ohio quakes). The EPA saw the light on this out in Wyoming and is now deliberating with the Department of Interior to study this further and propose some regulations for this process.
While some industry folks think this move is unnecessary, there is another top dog out there who is siding with EPA’s move. Christopher Portier, the director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, supports studying the fracking process in further detail. In an e-mailed statement, he remarks that “we do not have enough information to say with certainty whether shale gas drilling poses a threat to public health.” As such, studies should be done to look at “all the ways people can be exposed” to the byproducts of fracking.
Natural gas is also a hot topic in the trading world. Last year, fuel was the number one export of the United States. In fact, since October of 2008, U.S natural gas production rose 15% (yet, President Obama is hindering our domestic energy production…hmm…).
The fact is that the U.S. abounds in natural gas. Naturally (pun intended), some domestic minds would think to export this resource. Some foreign minds (read: China) would think to start investing in our gas production (see the Wall Street Journal from Monday). Harkening back to simple economics, exporting a good in high demand would likely turn some sizeable profits. Relying more heavily on natural gas could help put downward pressure on oil prices.
But, there are some serious drawbacks to consider. For one, last I checked, Republicans have been yelling about EPA regulations and how those regulations would increase our energy prices and harm economic recovery. Well, same issue goes for exporting natural gas. By making natural gas more expensive (in trying to seek a greater profit), prices here at home might also rise. One estimate holds that just one of the newly proposed export projects will raise natural gas prices by 11.6 percent by 2015. Furthermore, natural gas is tricky to contain and ship, unlike oil. That being said, we all know that even oil shipments can prove tricky (see Exxon-Valdez).
As Brad Plummer with the Washington Post summarizes, none of this is not to say pull the plug on natural gas exports; it’s more to say think before you act.
What’s truly a gas: Newt Gringrich’s talk about making Sarah Palin the next Energy Secretary. Apparently, shouting “drill, baby, drill!” is Newt’s only prerequisite for the position.