Jared Polis joins war 
against exporting gas

What a disappointment that 2nd Congressional District Rep. Jared Polis, whose district includes part of the Western Slope, has joined an effort by politicians from other states and environmentalists to try to put the brakes on natural gas exports.

This, while some other members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, Republicans and Democrats, are urging U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to expedite a study that’s needed to allow more natural gas exports.

Those Colorado leaders, including Sen. Michael Bennet and 3rd District Rep. Scott Tipton, recognize that allowing natural gas exports can boost jobs in this region and other parts of the country and improve our nation’s balance of trade. Gas exports can also help other nations improve their environment.

But Polis, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and a few others said in a letter to Chu they are worried more exports “would lead to greater hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ activity, thus threatening the health of local residents and jobs.”

That’s a serious load of negative consequences to blame on a technique for boosting gas and oil drilling that’s been around for decades and has become an integral part of much natural gas drilling in recent years. No scientific study has proved a definite connection between fracking and public health problems such as water contamination, although many have tried.

Furthermore, Polis and company cannot point to concrete examples of drilling and fracking causing a loss of tourism or other jobs, while the industry’s ability to generate high-paying energy jobs is well documented.

Also, increased use of natural gas over coal in electric plants is believed to be a primary reason carbon dioxide emissions in this country have dropped to the lowest level in 20 years

The Polis letter is part of what appears to be a concerted effort by some politicians and environmental groups to slow any efforts to increase natural gas exports from this country.

Just last week, the Baltimore Sun reported, the Sierra Club offered legal challenges to an energy company that owns a Maryland facility for importing liqueified natural gas but wants to revamp the facility so it can also be used for exports.

Apparently Polis and other politicians in Washington have joined with the Sierra Club in its about-face on natural gas.

The fuel was viewed as an environmentally acceptable alternative to coal and conventional oil when it was produced in smaller quantities in a few places around the country. But now that new drilling techniques, including better fracking processes, have opened up large areas to potential gas production and have increased the likelihood that natural gas will be an abundant fuel for a long time to come, the Sierra Club and others are looking for every chance to block it, no matter the environmental benefits.

Shame on Polis for joining that effort.


COMMENTS

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I would like to see a rational discussion on what oil and gas exports mean for consumer prices in the US.  A unit here is about $3, and about $10 in Europe.  Industry insiders regularly talk about the desirability of ‘price stabilization’—not in their PR campaigns to consumers but in industry publications and such.  Turning North American gas into an international fungible commodity is no doubt good for industry’s bottom line (which would probably be good for those businesses in GJ) but what will it mean for US consumers?  Shouldn’t we acknowledge that reality so we can have a rational, rather than just another overly simplistic ‘boosteristic vs. anti-’ debate?

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