Today, natural gas traded at the New York Mercantile Exchange for less than $2 per million cubic feet. That's less than TWO dollars. The cleaner, greener, more abundant domestic fossil fuel is sitting at lows not seen in more than a decade. That's made even more stunning by the relative price of the other transport fuel, gasoline, which still weighs on our economy and the consumer by stubbornly pricing at close to $4 a gallon.
What a botched opportunity this is -- and national disgrace.
Natural gas could profoundly ease our recovery from this long recession. With a move to natural gas as its primary fuel, the U.S. could worry less about being an economic casualty of ongoing European contagion or a Chinese "hard" landing. Energy is the lifeblood of our economy, and we've come to a unique and historic moment. We no longer need to be tethered to a globally set high price for crude oil, where increasing demand in Asia translates into high prices at gas pumps at home, even as our own gasoline supplies swell and our demand decreases.
Abundant American natural gas is the fast track out.
Cheap natural gas can fuel more than our cars and trucks, although that would be an excellent start. It can literally fuel our future -- a revitalization of a manufacturing sector that has left for cheaper shores in emerging markets would rebound as lower local energy prices allow businesses to pay a higher living wage for American workers. It would fuel exploration and a fresh network for distribution, now underutilized and running well under capacity. As natural gas cars begin to take hold in this country, a new wave of consumption demand will explode as energy costs stop sapping our wallets.
While gasoline hovers close to $4 a gallon nationally, an equivalent gallon of natural gas now costs less than a dollar, when filling from a home line. Think of how much money we could be spending on other important things, unshackled from the rising price of gasoline. We could jumpstart a new decade of economic progress right here and right now.
All we need is a little support from our government. Just a little help to remove us from the global crude oil market and towards a national natural gas market, where the increasing demand for oil in China won't hike the energy prices we must pay domestically.
Republicans have been slow to embrace the incentives necessary to build the needed infrastructure, even though those projects would increase by millions the jobs they claim to care so much about. They are captive to their big-money donors, which means big oil.
President Obama has been equally slow to embrace natural gas, cowed by a ill-informed environmental lobby and an election-year stance opposing fossil fuels of any kind, even this far more advantageous alternative. He dreams, as we all do, of a vibrant U.S. economy driven entirely by renewable fuels, but this is an unrealistic fantasy still many decades away. What we need right now is a president who will talk realities -- the realities of what will take to grow our economy and power us for the next 15 years.
It must be natural gas. It's cleaner, it's domestic, it's abundant -- and it's unbelievably CHEAP.
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