Washington Observer-Reporter: Shale group encouraged by Obama mention

MSC President: “We can’t afford not to get this right

The region’s largest natural gas trade group has expressed optimism about President Obama’s support of shale gas production he mentioned Tuesday night in his State of the Union Address.

Prior to the president’s address, Kathryn Klaber, president of the Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, which has nearly 300 members from the natural gas drilling, production and supply chain, told reporters from the news and trade media she was pleased Obama was including natural gas as part of a strategy to make America energy independent.

“Over the past 40 years, every president, regardless of party, has called for energy independence,” Klaber said, adding recent technological developments – in essence, hydraulic fracturing, – are producing natural gas in volumes that can make energy independence a possibility.

Klaber also said she hoped the president would work with both parties in 2012 to develop a policy that covers both environmental and energy security concerns.

“We can’t afford not to get this right,” she said.

While the president voiced support for gas produced from shale, he said his administration “will take every possible action to safely develop this energy,” adding he would require all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use.

Like Klaber’s MSC, Regina Hopper, president and chief executive officer of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, also supported Obama’s move.

“We welcome President Obama’s remarks in support of the safe and responsible development of natural gas and the opportunities it presents to create American jobs and advance our nation’s environment, economy and energy security.”

While asking government to develop a roadmap for responsible shale gas production, Obama also reiterated his support for clean energy production of all types.

Consumer Energy Alliance Mid-Atlantic, which represents consumers of energy from every sector of the economy, said the alliance supports his vision for safe, responsible development of natural gas in shale formations as a potential boost to the economy:

“President Obama’s vision for an all-of-the-above energy approach is a step in the right direction toward an abundant domestic energy supply and more American jobs,” CEA said in a statement.

“With the recent news that lower natural gas prices resulting from shale gas production have the potential to add over 1 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. by 2025, it’s clear that by leveraging U.S. resources across the nation – we can create an economy-boosting energy plan for America.”

But one area lawmaker said it remained to be seen if the president’s remarks would be translated into action.

“Southwestern Pennsylvania families want less talk and more action to grow jobs and get our economy moving,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-18th District, in a statement. “Yes, we need more U.S. energy production and a strong domestic manufacturing base. We also need to cut spending and stop job-crushing regulations to help our economy get back on track.

“Yet the goals laid out by the president tonight are the very things his administration is actively working to stop. If the president truly wanted to increase domestic energy production, he wouldn’t be blocking the Keystone Pipeline.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Robert Casey, who has been a critic of shale gas extraction but two weeks ago asked Shell Oil Co. to locate its proposed ethane cracking plant in Pennsylvania, focused his reaction to the president’s address on improving manufacturing, especially in Pennsylvania.

NOTE: Click HERE to view this story online.