The President's post-election remarks contained something of an "olive branch" to Congressional Republicans. It came in the form of a broad hint that the Administration might backpedal on its opposition to natural gas development.
"We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country," Obama said when he was pressed for issues on which he could compromise with Republican leaders. "Are we doing everything we can to develop those?"
With all due respect, Mr. President, the answer to your question is not "No", but "Hell, no!"
Your tax proposals would structurally alter the economics of drilling and chase capital away.
Your EPA looks to restrict hydraulic fracturing, a relatively benign but critical process that typically takes place many thousands of feet deeper than the groundwater supplies that it supposedly threatens.
Your populist impulse to target Big Oil for punishment post-BP misses the true multinationals and falls disproportionately on the domestic independents, the non-integrated exploration firms which drill 90+% the nation's gas wells.
Your Secretary of the Interior has blocked the awarding of leases in Federal lease sales in the Mountain West in order to appease anti-development environmentalists. Furthermore, he sees energy companies as the enemy and still maintains his "boot on the neck" attitude toward companies that had nothing to do with BP's problems.
You, the Interior Secretary and the BOEMRE have overreacted to the BP spill to stall orderly development on the Gulf of Mexico Shelf. Shelf drilling poses a miniscule environmental risk compared to BP's deepwater Macondo fiasco: BOPs are at the surface, pressures are generally lower, and intervention is much easier than in water a mile deep. When the rare blowout does happen, more often than not a shallow well "bridges off", or plugs itself, within a few days.
Plus, a natural gas "spill" never killed a pelican, a sea turtle or a dolphin.
Forty-two thousand shelf wells were drilled from 1970 until March of 2010. Probably 80% of them targeted natural gas. By the government's estimates, the total volume of oil spilled by drilling and producing well blowouts during that period is 1,800 barrels. Out of several billion barrels produced, that's a ridiculously low percentage.
Natural gas is a clean, abundant and nearly 100% domestic fuel. It's insane to be hostile to its development.
Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.