In President’s Energy Forecast, a Call for More Natural Gas

Pres. Barack Obama laid out some of his energy priorities Wednesday at Georgetown University. (image: whitehouse.gov)

The first round of headlines out of Pres. Obama’s energy address at Georgetown University today have focused on oil, and the goal of slicing the country’s foreign imports by a third over the next 14 years [update: first stories said by 2020, now 2025 is being reported]. And what will help to fill the gap? Natural gas, the president said.

“Recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves [of natural gas] — perhaps a century’s worth — in the shale under our feet,” the president said, making a thinly veiled reference to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It was a valuable presidential endorsement for natural gas companies, as stock prices for several got a nice bump. And, Obama noted, there was already bipartisan support for running cars on this “clean-burning” gas. (Though there’s only a single natural gas-powered car available in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.)

Pre-empting any backlash from environmentalists, Obama said that gas collection has to be done safely “without polluting our water supply.” And that Energy Secretary Steven Chu would coordinate efforts to ensure the process was done safely. “He likes to tinker on this stuff in his garage,” the president joked about the notoriously over-achieving Chu.

The president’s full remarks are here.

Of course, extracting more natural gas means more natural gas liquids, including propane. So will that mean a larger role for LPG in the coming years? For what it’s worth, all but one of the publicly traded propane retailers were fired up on the market today, too. Because you can’t pick cherries without getting the cherry pits, too.