Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shale State Senators = Energy Swing Votes

Washington may have finally discovered shale gas! The New York Times had a very interesting article last week about the proposed energy legislation that is moving towards the Senate and how recent gains by the natural gas industry in the energy bill/climate change debate may be because certain key people are starting to understand the importance of shale gas.

Of course, the discovery seems to be purely political. The key people in question are senators representing swing votes in the energy legislation, many of whom happen to come from emerging shale gas states like Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas and Oklahoma. Other swing votes come from Colorado and North Dakota, two more states that benefit from domestic drilling.

But the two biggest obstacles to shale gas being a game changer in the energy legislation are 1) its newness and the unknowns that come with new discoveries and 2) the powerful, rich and deeply entrenched coal lobby, which overlaps many shale states, especially in the Appalachian Marcellus Shale. In total, the coal lobby influence reaches into more than 20 states.

Between its new lobbying effort and the growing awareness of the shale gas discoveries, the natural gas industry will finally have a seat at the table in Washington. It is still an uphill fight, but the fight is on

P.S. Kudos to both Colorado senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, who are working hard to keep natural gas on the proverbial front burner in the energy debate.

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