U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Friday reiterated the importance of natural gas to the Obama administration’s energy and job-creation programs. Salazar said his department is very active in efforts to boost gas development both on and offshore in the United States.

“We’re moving forward with the development of natural gas resources both onshore and offshore,” Salazar said in Cheyenne, WY. “We are very confident that natural gas is a very important part of the energy portfolio of the United States. We’re working hard on that energy portfolio.

“The growth we have seen in the domestic supplies of gas in the past few years has been in large part due to technological advances that have included hydraulic fracturing [fracking], so from my agency’s point of view we believe that fracking can be done and can be done in a safe way. But that doesn’t mean that we are not going to do some things in respect to ensuring that water supplies are protected, and that there is integrity in the well bores so any contamination can be avoided in surface water supplies.

“We also are going to move forward with a program that requires appropriate levels of disclosure with regard to the fluids being used [in the fracking]. But there should not be any doubt on anyone’s mind across the country that natural gas is a significant part of the energy portfolio of the president and it will continue to be that way.”

Salazar ticked off several reasons the Obama administration is embracing gas: it’s a domestic resource; it helps cut oil imports; and it creates jobs.

Sharing the podium with Salazar, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead echoed the interior secretary’s thoughts on the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing development of safeguards regarding fracking and its discovery of contaminants water wells (see Daily GPI, Dec. 9). He called EPA’s Wyoming test results so far “preliminary” and in need of critical peer review.

“It is important because as Secretary Salazar says, natural gas is critical to this country’s future,” Mead said. “It is also critical for me as a governor and the nation as a whole to demand that we have clean water, but I think it is too preliminary with a draft report to jump to conclusions.” He wants more “science” applied to the issue with the states and federal government involved.

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