March 30, The Exponent Telegram on the energy industry:
For years, we’ve heard that the United States needs to become energy independent. And now, with the strength of the Marcellus and Utica natural gas formations, the country is closer than ever to reaching that goal.
Historians and policymakers have said for decades that the U.S. — and the world — would be safer if we didn’t have to deal with Middle East oil reserves.
The development of natural gas, along with its sister product, oil, and other energy sources including coal could put the U.S. in a position where it controls the energy marketplace.
But that only happens if our own leaders get out of the way and allow it to happen.
The Obama administration’s flawed logic of marginalizing coal before other power sources are developed has dampened the economy, especially in West Virginia and other coal-producing states.
Don’t get us wrong. We believe that the United States should take a lead position in the development of cleaner energy sources. But the key word there is development. Right now, we can’t afford to shut down coal.
And let’s face it: Already the talk has turned to restrictions on natural gas because some environmentalists believe it’s not as clean as other potential sources.
Here’s the reality: Natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas have been engines that have driven the world since the advent of power-driven engines and electric heating.
Don’t believe it? Just look at the war aims of aggressors Germany and Japan in World War II.
Germany, roughly the size of Montana, needed more natural resources to continue to fuel the rapid growth it saw in the 1930s. So it began gobbling up countries and eventually turned on the one place that could guarantee it such resources almost in perpetuity: The Soviet Union.
Japan, not quite as big as California, was almost totally devoid of energy resources, and thus expanded throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific to capture such resources as oil and rubber.
So here we are in the 21st century, and the United States is playing by one set of rules regarding the energy industry, and the rest of the world has another set.
The next president of the United States really has only two choices.
One is to put Obama’s energy initiatives behind and get back to a level playing field in energy production and exploration with the countries that don’t appear to give a whit about the planet’s atmosphere. Or, two, use the bully pulpit of the White House to get those countries to change too.
Alone, the United States and a few other countries with a conscience won’t be enough to make a meaningful difference in damage to the atmosphere (again, if you believe the science).
Especially not if some of the world’s most populous areas aren’t cooperating.
We believe that the next president must bring us back to reality in terms of energy policy, using available resources like coal and natural gas to continue to churn the nation’s economy.
And while the nation powers back to being the world’s industrial leader, we should put our best scientists to work finding ways to use all natural resources in cleaner, more efficient manners.
One thing’s certain: The United States and West Virginia can’t thrive without coal and natural gas.
Here’s hoping the next president and Congress understand that.