"As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves," proclaimed Obama in his DNC acceptance speech on August 28th 2008. "I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America." President Obama can make it clear to Americans that it won't be business as usual with respect to foreign imports if his presidency underscores a commitment to natural gas as the most environmentally responsible source of clean energy available in America today.
When asked about proposals to expand natural gas as a transportation fuel, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he was, "agnostic about it, and another path forward is to develop the biofuels...using agricultural lumber wastes and plants specifically designed for growing energy and making our transportation fuel that way, to offset the oil imports." Secretary Chu went on to say that if "we significantly shift our use of transportation to use natural gas it will put a strain on natural gas use for industrial uses, for heating and other things."
Biofuel sources derived from food crops such as corn, sugarcane, soybean, rapeseed and oil palm compete with food production and may result in food shortages and higher costs. A new generation of biofuels produced from agricultural and timber wastes are being explored but have yet to become commercially viable.
T. Boone Pickens states that, "for more than 35 years, every President has promised to 'make the US energy independent,' but over that same period, we went from importing 24% of our oil to importing almost 70%. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each meant it when they said it, but because oil was cheap, it was easier to kick the problem down the road."
I believe it's time for America to decide if we are really serious about becoming an energy-independent nation, immune to geopolitical conflicts, or remain complacent and continue, as of February 2009, to import 62 percent of its oil and send approximately $13 billion overseas to foreign governments, as per the U.S. Department of Energy. The transportation sector is 70% of total U.S. oil consumption and the only U.S. domestic fuel capable of being scaled up to reduce oil use in the transportation sector over the next decade is natural gas.
The Haynesville Shale, "a massive natural-gas discovery in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape," reports The Wall Street Journal in an article titled, "U.S. Gas Fields Go from Bust to Boom" on April 20th 2009. "Conservative estimates suggest the Haynesville Shale, a dense rock formation that contains natural gas, could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years of current U.S. oil production."
Energy analysts believe that unconventional natural gas, such as what is being drilled from the Haynesville Shale, will make up more than 40% of U.S. production. Unconventional deposits require sophisticated technology and resources to extract the natural gas. The capability of the Haynesville Shale was not completely recognized until horizontal drilling and hydrofracing technologies were demonstrated in other unconventional shale reservoirs. We are using ingenuity and technical prowess, and employing American workers to ensure that we are free of our foreign oil addiction.
Americans need to rally for change by supporting policy initiatives such as the H.R. 1835 -- Legislation for National Gas Transportation, which is a bipartisan bill that strongly supports natural gas transportation initiatives. Let your elected officials know that the passage of this bill will help Americans breathe cleaner air and help eliminate our country's funding of terrorist regimes supported by sending our energy dollars overseas.