Although they don’t agree on energy policy, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both express support of the natural gas boom. They were in the region this week as part of campaign events, and natural gas was a focus of the candidates’ discussions.
Romney spoke about growing middle class jobs and the energy industry On Tuesday at Horizontal Wireline Services of North Huntingdon before a fundraiser in downtown Pittsburgh.
He was met with crowd support when he criticized Obama’s energy policies. Romney said Obama’s policies restrict the coal and natural gas industries that supply many of the region’s jobs.
Romney’s campaign platform includes a mention of Marcellus Shale. “The goal of my energy policy is straightforward: guarantee America the most affordable and reliable supply in the world. Ohio is seeing firsthand the potential of this approach in the Marcellus Shale…”
President Obama spent the day Monday at a campaign event in Cincinatti, where he was met with questions from Ohio residents. One resident had a shale-related question. Obama responded by saying the nation should “welcome” the new energy boom.
“We are blessed with incredible natural gas resources that are now accessible because of new technologies, but natural gas actually burns cleaner than some other fossil fuels, and is an ideal fuel—energy source that we potentially can use for the next 100 years. So I want to encourage natural gas production. The key is to make sure that we do it safely and in a way that is environmentally sound,” Obama said.
He said the key to successful natural gas exploration and extraction is responsibility.
“Now, you always hear these arguments that somehow there’s this huge contradiction between the environment and economic development, or the environment and energy production. And the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of folks right now that are engaging in hydraulic fracking who are doing it safely. The problem is, is that we haven’t established clear guidelines for how to do it safely, and informed the public so that neighbors know what’s going on, and your family, you can make sure that any industry that’s operating in your area, that they’re being responsible,” he said.
Safety and health of the public is one of Obama’s top concerns.
“So what we’ve said is, look, we are going to work with industry to establish best practices. We are going to invest in the basic research and science required to make sure this is done safely and in a way that protects the public health. And for responsible companies, they should be able to operate, make a profit, and we can all benefit and put people back to work. But if you’re an irresponsible company that’s not doing the right thing, we’re going to hold you to account. And that’s how we should develop this incredible resource—which, by the way, if we do it properly, could end up changing the economics and politics globally of energy in a way that’s actually very good for us, because we’ll be less dependent on what happens in the Middle East and our economy will be less subject to the kinds of spikes that we saw earlier in the spring in terms of gas prices,” Obama said.