The pioneering shale gas and oil developers have to be unshackled by “prison guards of the past” to allow the United States to achieve energy independence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on the closing day of the Shale Insight conference in Philadelphia.
The former Republican presidential candidate, now a CNN host, delivered his red meat rhetoric to a carnivorous audience Thursday at the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) event. New natural gas and oil reserves from unconventional formations have reversed U.S. energy fortunes but it hasn’t been easy, particularly because regulators have stymied growth in every way possible, Gingrich said.
“There are people who don’t want this future, who don’t want these competitive ideas…There are entire institutions designed to slowing you down and if possible, stopping you.”
Speaking with reporters before the speech, Gingrich slammed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for what he said is unnecessary interference in the gas and oil patch.
“It’s a very interesting moment in American history,” he said. “I think it’s one in which we’ll see almost inevitably the weight of technological and scientific progress grind down the regulators.”
Technological innovations in the energy industry have created millions of jobs and have improved domestic security because the nation is less dependent on fuel imports. “More energy from America means less military involvement in the Middle East.” However, oil and gas operators are at risk of being held back by regulators to advance their “energy security regime,” he said.
“We’ve spent 30 years going down a political path of regulation and litigation…Luckily, we’re a free society and a handful of people went down a path…of science and technology.
“They won and the bureaucrats lost because they solved the problem bureaucrats couldn’t solve…We need to use this moment in history to get this country re-centered on favoring science and technology and entrepreneurship.”
Gingrich’s preaching to the choir fit into a recurring theme at the convention for industry to stop being defensive about what it’s achieved and what is possible.
“I want this audience to understand that the debate and the question over whether or not we’re going to produce natural gas is over,” said America’s Natural Gas Alliance President Marty Durbin. “We are producing it, we’re producing it safely and responsibly, and we will continue to do so.”
Like the previous two MSC conventions, protestors had been expected to congregate outside the convention center, and as in past years, prevent people from attending. However, there was little evidence that anybody was protesting anything. Security guards posted outside the center, as well as at each escalator and every hallway may have discouraged naysayers.
However, MSC Chairman Randy Albert, who is COO of Consol Energy, framed the lack of street protestors another way. The oil and gas industry, he said, “has begun to win the battle of public opinion.”
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