Energy & Environment

Commentary: U.S. Policy Makers Should Begin Transition to Natural Gas Economy in Next Congress, Rep. Cassidy Says

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Domestic Energy Development Could Help Restore Manufacturing Base and Boost Dollar

America’s substantial supplies of natural gas should be further emphasized and considered as a stable, clean and affordable energy source in the next Congress, Rep. William Cassidy (R-La.) told The Pelican Institute in an exclusive interview.

Cassidy, who was recently appointed to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, also said that the business enterprises attached to the natural gas industry could help reignite the nation’s manufacturing base and encourage foreign investment into the U.S., while placating legitimate environmental concerns.

“Let’s start moving toward a natural gas economy,” he suggested. “It is a domestic energy supply with proven reserves available in area of the world where we have the rule of law. Right now we have a 40 year supply and the only reason we don’t go out and find more gas is because we have such a backlog. This is a clean fuel, which works well for Louisiana and the nation as a whole.”

There is no escaping the potential geopolitical fallout to the U.S. that comes from an overreliance on energy sources in politically unstable areas and the weak dollar policies that remain in effect, Cassidy observed.

“We, in our economic arrogance, assume that we can continue to buy commodities from abroad without paying a price,” he warned. “Our dollar is weakening while other currencies gain strength. But if we produce more natural gas domestically that will mean we don’t to have to purchase as much commodities elsewhere.”

Mongolia offers up an excellent policy model for U.S. policymakers, Cassidy continued. Mongolia now has the strongest currency in the world, he explained, in large part because it sells commodities to bigger countries and maintains a robust trade balance.

Cassidy also credited environmentalists for focusing attention on the need for a domestic energy supply that does not jeopardize health and safety. But, at the same time, he was critical of “cap and trade” schemes that have eroded Europe’s manufacturing base and so-called “renewable” technology that is expensive and intermittent.

“Sometimes we on the right circle the wagons against any assault on the use of energy,” Cassidy said. “But we should accept the premise that there are legitimate environmental concerns. I remember some raising concerns when lead was removed from gasoline, but as it turns out lead is a toxin. Lead kills people. There’s a societal cost in the form of neurological disease associated with having high levels of lead and gasoline. We have to ask ourselves what is the risk-benefit ratio. If there’s a risk that greatly exceeds the benefit with a certain set of energy policies, then they should be discontinued. But if we can get around the risk with an alternative energy source, it should be pursued.”

States such as New York and Pennsylvania, which have seen their population shrink as their manufacturing industry contracts, should be sympathetic to the idea of greater natural gas development, Cassidy suggested. He sees a potential “trifecta” at work with the right mix of policies: 1) New jobs for people who are not college educated 2) The development of a domestic energy source independent from the Middle East 3) An economic recovery rooted in an affordable, abundant, environmentally friendly energy source.

Cassidy also addressed the Pelican Institute’s December luncheon in Louisiana where he said that the U.S. has an advantage over other countries with natural gas supplies (such as Russia) in that the “rule of law” still predominates in America.

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