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Will Natural Gas Save Us?

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As we face serious environmental and economic ramifications from the Gulf Oil spill, more people are taking a closer look at the benefits of natural gas. Obama's hotly anticipated climate change bill by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will include tax credits for natural gas fuels for trucks and manufacturers. Is natural gas America's savior or a transitional fuel source that will tide us over until we become a cleantech nation awash in viable wind, solar and biofuel solutions?

The development of natural gas properties in the United States ensures our country's greater energy independence from geopolitical strife and provides high paying energy sector jobs and prosperous communities. As the CEO of an energy company that is actively tapping our country's natural gas reserves, even I don't think natural gas is the answer to all our country's energy needs. I simply believe that natural gas is a great, long-term bridge energy solution that provides an important part of our country's energy equation.

America is awash in natural gas discoveries including Louisiana's Haynesville Shale and new fields in Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming. As we engage in fruitful drilling of our natural gas resources, we should also build up our renewable and alternative energy technologies. Why? While our country has enough natural gas reserves to fuel Americans for many generations to come, we need to keep our eye on the ultimate prize -- creating environmentally sound energy solutions that are not tied to natural resources. Americans needs to take a leadership role in developing alternative energy solutions.

Anyone who has visited a major city in China is troubled by the quality of the air and water. Many people don't realize that a promising green technology industry has arisen in China to improve the quality of the air and the water. With a country population of 1.3 billion people, China has daunting energy requirements. As China's global stature grows, the Chinese government has started to impose stricter environmental standards which are becoming a priority issue for industries, businesses and municipalities. The Chinese government's economic stimulus package includes over $36 billion for environmental projects such as waste water treatment and renewable energy facilities. The benefits of China's government-backed stimulus is that a bumper crop of Chinese companies have emerged to address the country's significant environmental hazards accrued from their multi-decade role as the "world's largest factory" which was contaminated from sewage and other industrial waste products.

As a proud American and energy executive, I would like to see our country rally behind every environmentally sound energy solution that is home-grown. Let's push away from the Mideast table and the high-priced oil it puts on our plates which keeps our country tied to unstable political factions and terrorist regimes. As T. Boone Pickens says on the Pickens Plan site, "in addition to putting our security in the hands of potentially unfriendly and unstable foreign nations, we spent $475 billion on foreign oil in 2008 alone. That's money taken out of our economy and sent to foreign nations, and it will continue to drain the life from our economy for as long as we fail to stop the bleeding."

Let's roll out our old-fashioned American gumption and national pride and keep focused on delivering energy solutions developed by Americans for Americans. Why are we allowing other nations to outpace us in passing rich economic stimulus plans that ensure a focus on renewable energy when we have the resources, the know-how and the need?

More than 70% of US imported oil is used in transportation. Of all of the domestic energy resources available (domestic oil, natural gas, nuclear, coal, wind, solar, hydro, geo-thermal and bio fuels), only natural gas is easily used as a transportation fuel today. Natural gas produces around half the greenhouse gasses for the same amount of energy used in oil.

Natural gas is more than 50 percent cleaner than coal and can serve as the foundation for power generation and the expansion of renewable energy sources. The New York Times reported that that "natural gas could emerge as a critical transition fuel that could help to battle global warming." Since about 98 percent of natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in North America, increased use results in more jobs and economic growth.

I'm an American businessman committed to ensuring a brighter future for our nation's children. I grew up hearing and believing that America is the richest and most entrepreneurial country in the world. In addition to talking the talk, we need to walk the walk toward real change.

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