It’s Time to Drill for Natural Gas

This article was originally posted at Conservative Voice on July 21, 2006 09:55 AM EST

Gas prices are too high. We can all agree on that. We hear a lot of complaints about how much we are paying to keep our cars moving. But what we don’t hear much about is the astronomical increase in the price of natural gas. Since 2000, natural gas prices have more than tripled. That is a hefty hike.

Why would we want to remain dependent on anyone else for that which we can provide for ourselves? It’s time for us all to ask that question.

It is a simple matter of Economics 101, Supply and Demand. Domestic gas production is in decline while demand has increased by 31%. More than 95% of new power plants are gas fired. Where is the gas going to come from if this decline continues?

It doesn’t have to be this way, but because of governmental red tape we have a gas crisis. America has great energy potential and specifically North Carolina has the potential to end the crisis here.

The Department of the Interior estimates that there is enough natural gas to sustain current production for 75 more years, resting off of our shoreline. It is estimated that North Carolina alone has 36 trillion feet of natural gas off of our coast.

We hear many elected officials lamenting over the loss of jobs in our country. Now there is an opportunity to do something about it.

Since the natural gas crisis began in 2000, the US has lost more than 2.8 million manufacturing jobs. North Carolina has suffered many of those losses. Some industries have suffered more than others and many of those industries are right here in North Carolina. Let’s take a look at some of the industries that have been especially hard hit.

• Agriculture – Since 2000, 36% of the nitrogen fertilizer plants dependent on natural gas have been shut down or mothballed. The agriculture industry spent $6.2 billion on energy in 2003-2004—16% of production costs.
• Plastics – The plastics sector has lost more than 150,000 jobs and $14.6 billion in business to other countries from 2000 to 2002.
• Chemical – Since 2000, America’s chemical sector has lost nearly 90,000 jobs and $50 billion in business to overseas operations.
• Forest/Paper – The forest and paper industry has closed 200 mills and lost 146,000 jobs since the run-up in natural gas prices began.

Congress has an opportunity to remedy this situation. The Senate will be voting within the next few days on legislation that can allow us to become energy independent. Passage of such legislation would bring energy costs down, reduce reliance on foreign energy and bring jobs to North Carolina. I think it’s time to do the responsible thing and help our state with a recovery plan to produce natural gas.

I encourage you to call Senator Dole and let her know that it is time for us to stop the escalating prices of natural gas and bring jobs back to North Carolina. Her number is 202-224-6342. Light up those phone lines.