Natural gas may set us free

Anyone who has driven up to a filling station in the last week has met with a harsh reality at the pump.

Gasoline prices are gushing upward at a rate not seen in years, leaping the $3-a-gallon barrier and rising quickly.

Suffice to say that many factors explain the jump in the cost of fuel, ranging from the obvious to the subtle.

Unrest in the Middle East, in particular, Libya, where a tyrant who used his nation’s reserves of crude oil to ensure his own survival, has made oil companies even more jittery than they were after another dictator, Hosni Mubarak, was ousted in a popular uprising.

Americans are at the mercy of outside forces when it comes to the price of fuel for our vehicles, but it need not be that way.

Vast reserves of natural gas underlay much of the United States and are only now becoming available for use in generating electricity, heating and other purposes.

One of those other purposes ought to be the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Many companies already are looking for ways to entice vehicle manufacturers to produce natural-gas-powered vehicles, an idea pioneered by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens.

Clearly the cost of converting America’s auto fleet will be a high one and consumers individually will bear a share of those costs as they look to buy new vehicles or retrofit existing ones.

It’s worth noting, as well, that a steady demand for natural gas at a reasonable price would be a boon to the western Colorado economy, one that might offer an opportunity to smooth out the boom-bust swings that have characterized western Colorado in recent decades.

The kind of independence that domestic resources of natural gas can afford the country can release us from dependence on unstable dictatorial regimes that threaten the United States with disillusioning regularity.


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