Abraham's Claim of 'Dangerous Dependency' on Gas Assailed

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has come under attack from the energy sector for stating last week that the United States is "well on our way toward a dangerous dependency" on natural gas.

"Those were pretty strong words. I was shocked when he said that," said Jerald V. Halvorsen, president of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), which represents interstate gas pipelines. Abraham's statement "could have a tendency to dampen enthusiasm for natural gas in the future."

Abraham made the comment last Wednesday in a major speech on energy policy to the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He said the nation's "dangerous dependency" on natural gas was one of five "great challenges" confronting the country, along with antiquated transmission/pipeline infrastructures, foreign oil dependency, a reliance on government mandates to promote conservation, and too much R&D focus on "fairly mature" renewable energy sources as opposed to "newer areas of endeavor."

Abraham's remark about natural gas reflects a "lack of coordination" between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bush White House, which has touted the use of gas as part of the president's national energy strategy, INGAA's Halvorsen told NGI.

Further, natural gas is critical to any climate change strategy proposed by the Bush administration, he said. Without the "accelerated use" of gas, Halvorsen believes it will be impossible to achieve the necessary reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

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