Tap into natural gas

President Barack Obama launched his second term on Monday by promising that the United States would remain a beacon of hope and a friend to peace and democracy around the world — both welcome aspirations that are appropriate for any president and endeavors in which we wish him well.

Obama took special note to say that the nation would respond to the threat of climate change, which we hope will mean that he’ll take particular note of the advantage of America’s abundant resources, no small amount of which lies under western Colorado.

Energy companies joined and perfected the techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing here in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin.

The knowledge gained here is being put to use now across the nation, where the ability to tap natural gas is revitalizing industries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and elsewhere.

It’s actually doing more than that.

The more American industry runs on natural gas, the less carbon dioxide the nation pumps into the air, meaning that the United States is leading the world in reducing emissions of the gas, a suspected culprit in climate change.

We hope Obama’s call to action on climate change takes into account the advantages of natural gas, from its climate to industrial attributes.

With those things in mind, we’d hope the president leads the charge to export American liquid natural gas around the world.

Obama’s beloved White Sox haven’t pulled off many a triple play, but he could manage one with natural gas: boosting American industry and employment, providing inexpensive energy to less-blessed parts of the world and making a dent in climate change.

None of that, by the way, suggests that the United States should abandon its search for other forms of energy, from geothermal, to solar, to wind, to better batteries. The list goes on, as do the advantages of greater American energy independence.

Selling American energy could go a long way as well to reducing the nation’s ever-growing debt, a plague that Obama didn’t mention but which is nonetheless a heavy drag on the American economy.

Nuclear energy offers similar opportunities, and western Colorado also could be a reliable supplier of the uranium needed to power a modern economy the world over. We hope the president looks favorably on efforts to develop this resource.

Moving to take advantage of clean and abundant domestic energy supplies would pay off in more than economic and atmospheric improvements.

Doing so would provide substantial political benefits and allow Obama to move a bit toward the Republicans with no sacrifice of his own beliefs. Encouraging more domestic energy production also would do much to shore up the middle class, to which Obama and Republicans repeatedly swore fealty in their campaigns a few short months ago.

If Obama can move a bit toward the middle, it might encourage the Republican leadership in the House to do the same.

That’s hardly a panacea, but if a new president and the opposition can inch in each other’s direction, we can be hopeful that the next four years will produce more than the frustrating standoff that the last four produced.


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What a bunch of malarkey as the VP would say! Export our energy, indeed. All these panaceas offered up are just that. It is plea to sell off our assets and needs for quick up front profit, not for the nation, but for a few large energy corporations already on the public dole. These resources are finite, and unless we have electrical power storage developed (that is of far greater capacity than now), we should be doing measured controlled extraction only for our needs. The current extraction of gas is immensely dirty on the front end and the methane lost is about 25 times worse than CO2 on the use end. Nuclear (uranium) is nastier as nation after nation finds out. And in the the end the public pays the toll in clean-ups, health, and tax burdens. The thin films of air and water can not support the damages our present course takes us and we are seeing the effects today.

Today is time to develop the electrical power storage technology and retire the fossil fuel market. The petroleum industry will have to settle with the plastics and chemical needs. As for nuclear, it will have certain specifics in propulsion and small power sources, but technology must get much better before it has any place in electrical power generation for grids. Possibly thorium reactors would work somewhat better. But with electrical power storage, just natural occurring electrical generation (as seen in lightning) would meet our power needs for transportation, heating, agriculture, manufacturing, etc.

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