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Cheap natural gas jumbles energy markets, stirs fears it could inhibit renewables

For the past three years, promoters of shale gas and environmentalists opposed to coal-fired power plants have hailed the sudden abundance of U.S. natural gas as a bridge to a renewable-energy future.

But natural gas has become so cheap that many energy experts and environmentalists now wonder whether it will turn into a long, bumpy detour.

U.S. natural gas prices, which hit more than $13 per thousand cubic feet in 2008, have tumbled to about $2.50 per thousand cubic feet. Rapidly rising production of shale gas and a warm winter have created a glut and pushed supplies in storage to 21 percent above the average of the past five years.

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  • Remington 870

    Don’t worry, Obama and his communist czars will ensure our natural resources are not produced so we can afford them, but instead he will tax the crap out of us and/or put the rest of Americans into the middle ages of heating. Obama’s goal is to bring this country to its knees and send us to hell. What are we going to do about it? Write our complaints on bloggs? When the time comes, and I hope it doesn’t, we are going to revolt and declare anarchy against a corrupt government. If you really believe Obama and his evil empire are going to let free elections occur 2012, you are fooling yourself.

  • RobinPC

    870 I agree with you, but question if when it came down to “push and shove” just how many people will cave in due to lack of courage? The blogs are full of bla bla, and how bad these people want to sound, but when it comes tine to line up your sights on a person, then squeeze the trigger without flinching or closing their eyes, well I wonder if there will be more than two of us facing the enemy?

    • http://FaceBook ron yurchak

      Robin, you can make that 3.

  • James

    And yet we chose to promote electric cars. What a bunch of doofuses! Does everybody realize how much cleaner a natural gas powered car would be? Or a propane powered car would be? Or has anybody thought about how easy it would be to convert an old ford pickup truck into burning either of these fuels? How about how easy it would be to convert our infrastructure over to these fuels? If the government and local governments would start purchasing these type of vehicles as they replenish there vehicle inventories, in time the system would begin to realize the savings of these vehicle. Did you know that the oil is still clean inside an engine after 10,000 miles of use with propane. I’ve seen it! And now we’re learning that we have an overstocked supply? Think about the subsidy issues alone with ethanol we add to the fuel we use now. It’s only about 3- 10% of that fuel. Why couldn’t we justify a 3-10% use of natural gas and propane instead? Think of how much cheaper corn would be. Think of how much food prices would come down. Think of how much money our Government would save. Come on everybody! We don’t need a replacement fuel source for our vehicles we just need a healthy competitive fuel supply. If gasoline is too high, we have the choice of a natural gas or propane fuel or even a diesel powered vehicle. That would bring the prices down!

    • Lucky1

      James have you looked at the price of diesel lately….Diesel has been more expensie than gas for several years now..

      • James

        Why do you think that is? It’s because a diesel car or truck is much more efficient than a gas vehicle. The price is higher to detour the industry from making too many cars into diesel vehicles. Much of the pickup truck market is going diesel for a reason. Because it is more efficient and more powerful. If a portion of our automotive industry went to natural and propane fuel this would give a true option to the American consumer. I’m not saying, that we should switch the whole industry over. I am saying, we could justify switching over a portion of it. Such as the municipal and government vehicles for starters. They would last longer and that would reduce the expense of replacement too. This is truly all about economics. It only makes since. The reason why the electric cars have always been such a flop is for one reason only. It never makes any economic since to the consumer. We haven’t been able to produce an electric car that will go any farther then 100 miles without requiring an overnight charge. That in itself is not very appealing to the consumer. Not to mention the cost of repair. Because the owner knows that a replacement battery is coming in the not too distant future of their ownership. That means the first buyer is gonna want to get rid of it before it fails. And the second owner will never want the headache or the expense! It’s already happening to the used car market now. Everybody is walking away from the used electric cars, making them a throw away car. We already know that recycling batteries is a pain and the recycle industry can’t handle it properly to suit even the slightest environmentally minded critic. Let alone the wacko minded environmentalist! Most of Europe is already using diesel powered cars even though it’s more expensive then gasoline. The engine last longer and is more economical. thus the obvious choice for them is economic 101. If you build something that is more economical the consumer will buy it. If you build it to be more efficient and environmentally friendly they will buy it too. Even older vehicles could be converted at a reasonable rate if the consumer wants to.

      • libertarian58

        Lucky1
        I think that one of the “hidden” reasons for this is that ALL of our merchandise travels on diesel trucks and this cost is “hidden” to the consumer, but passed on to us by the retailer. Since most of don’t drive a diesel, we think we aren’t affected. Just one more way we are gouged by the system. Most of this cost is from taxes added to a gallon. I hear that many states are working on changing from tax/gal to tax/$ to get even more revenue.

    • THOMAS STEWART

      Right-On James Anything That The Feds Touch Turns To Shittt, Then Put The King In Charge Of “Fuel Funds” With That Chi-Town Sticky-Fingers Mentality, “How Much Is In It For The King Obama, Yikeess, If Anyone Can Ruin A Wet Dream Obamacare Can. God Bless America And Judge Mahili With Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

    • ad aspra ad astra

      My grandfather worked for Union Gas in Independence, KS. Many years ago Harrison Johnson asked him to convert his Ford to natural gas. He quickly did so & they kept the natural gas tank in the trunk. Things went splendidly. Then the federal government regulators got involved. They decided the tank couldn’t be in the trunk. Instead they decided it had to be on the roof of the cab! Then they decided it needed a roll bar type of protective cage. Finally they decided it just was not safe enough! When my grandfather retired H Johnson described him as a mechanical genous. After he retired he continued to work for them restoring used gas regulators to working order which required using tanks of exotic gases. Seems he was the only worker who knew how to do the job as he had tons of regulators in his garage waiting for him to rehab long after he retired. Things go fairly smooth until the g-regulators get involved!

  • Jose C

    James, please let us know how much a conversion to natural gas costs and where can we have it done. I would be interested in doing it to my car.
    As for the rest of you, for Christ’s sake, stop bitching and vote Obama out of office this November.
    It’s just that simple.

  • tod

    If You Want A Lot More Of The Same Old Thing,THEN DON”T VOTE FOR DR.RON PAUL 2012 !!!

    • just sayin

      If Ron Paul is honest, then he is incompetent as a manager in my opinion. Here is the fact. Please don’t blather on about NWO, Neo Cons and the like. Just make your determination which one he is and then temper your future comments using common sense rather than Mantra! His views that were written about in HIS newsletters for years with HIS name on them are scary. He claims that he did not know what they were writing for years. To me, that sounds like irresponsible management AT MINIMUM. How can someone who cannot even supervise his OWN newsletters manage international affairs and the US government. So IF he is honest, he is irresponsible and incompetent AT THE LEAST. My belief is that he DID know what was in his newsletters for YEARS and did supervise what went in there. THAT would make him patently dishonest by claiming that he did not know. What would the average person think if they were not a PaulBot or a cult member? My guess would be the latter but the former is possible. Which do you believe, since you claim he is the ONLY honest one? Is he irresponsible and incompetent or dishonest?

  • James R. Maxwell

    Natural gas is at a low price currently but if the EPA blocks fracking the source will slow down and once again become more limited or less available. When that happens the market will rebound in a different direction. As long as we have a corrupt administration that does not
    understand the energy requirement or how it is produced or effect our nation the will continue stumbling along in the dark. The current regime is so in debt to the environmentalist that they
    are afraid to make any decision that might “hurt thier feelings” even at the expense of our
    nations economic stability. Also people have to remember that obama in his original campaign promised he would break or bankrupt the power producers in America and raise
    the electric rates. So far he, thru the EPA have forced the closure of power plants and closing of coal mines. His refusal to allow the Keystone Pipe line and continued support of
    Green energy at the expense of the American Tax Payers has reduced our ability to become
    energy independent in the foreseeable future. The Pie in the sky dream of Solyndra and other
    failed government backed programs have proven the we do not have the technical development to make green energy cost efficient at this time and it require massive government support to continue.

    • Joe Speer

      They know exactly what they are doing to turn America into a 3rd world economy. In Obumas mind we are too far ahead in the world of luxuries and need to be “Taken down a couple of knotches” per his master Soros says!!!

  • mitch

    soon we’ll have a natural gas czar at the whitehouse

    • THOMAS STEWART

      Right-On Mitch However We Have That “Fuel Czar” King Obama The Muslim Imposter Pres Of The USA, Yikeess, When The USA Buys Muslim High-Priced Oil And Sells Our “Cheap Natural Gas” Too These Same Muslims, Because All The Vehicles In Dubai Run On “Cheap USA Natural Gas”, Does This Have That Same Chi-Town Bad Smell As Obamacare??? Nov 2012!! Hurry-Up, God Bless America And Judge Michael Mahili With The Tea Party Patriots.

  • Sirwizard

    In my humble opinion, the Obama regime is busy discrediting valid (and valuable) sources of American energy. The explosion and fire that caused the BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico happened at exactly the appropriate time for Obama to act to shut down off-shore production. Oddly, two American nuclear power plants reported radiation leaks within a day of each other. These events occurred very shortly after Obama’s State of the Union speach in which he said we needed an “All of the above” approach to energy. Watch the OTHER hand. I believe he will use sabotage and lies to try to steer this country into backing strictly solar and wind power (which is insufficient for our needs). Obama’s regulations and policies have already put several coal mining operations out of business. Obama will not be satisfied until Americans are bundled up and shivering in a dark corner, too cold to care.

  • Larry

    Now that the SOB Barrack Obama knows that cheap fuels will slow the Green Energy growth he will do something that will drive the price of the fuels higher in order to push the renewable energy. This piece of chicken crap Obama will do anything to cost the people more money in order to get his way at whatever the cost to the poor.

  • bhs3kgt

    Here in Ohio we have the radical environmentalists, a very small minority, protesting in Columbus against fracking. I’m so sick of the bullying tactics of the tree-huggers that I won’t participate in any of their crap, even recycling. Yeah lefty losers you have a backlash on your hands due to your in-your-face tactics. In the ’60s I was sympathetic to groups like the Sierra Club. “Let’s save a few trees”. OK, cool. But over the decades they went from “concerned about the environment” to “let’s put a stop to man’s influence on precious mother Earth”.

  • Concerned

    A low priced commodity ain’t cheap if it kills or poisons you or a loved one.

    Natural gas only works if we ignore the unintended consequences. Consequences matter. While natural gas was an improvement on oil its exemption from environmental protection regulations and rising popularity has changed its extraction for the worse. Fracking is tied to drinking water pollution and earthquakes. And it does pollute the air, though not as much as oil/gasoline. This is not just about saving air, water and ground stabiity but about protecting us from the environmental diseases caused or made worse by pollution and of course protecting us from the rapidaly increasing incidences of fracking related earthquakes.

    You can be selfish and shortsighted but please include all the unintended consequences in your decision matrix.

  • Larry E

    What’s truly interesting about “renewables” is that hydroelectric energy isn’t considered renewable because it shows up wind and solar for what they truly are, expensive, impractical, and only workable when they’re heavily subsidized. The United States has enough natural gas, oil, and coal to take care of our energy needs for the next couple of centuries. The idea that using these readily available and relatively inexpensive resources will somehow result in the deaths or thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands deaths makes me wonder how I’ve managed to survive for over 70 years.

    When I was a child a lot of people had coal burning furnaces that spewed soot and whatever else into the air. Now coal burning power plants that burn tons of coal likely put less pollution into the air than one old coal burning furnace, but the power plants are evil and causing thousands of death a year. We’re also told that we can’t burn oil or natural gas because it produces CO₂ and global warming. The fact that there hasn’t been any warming globally for the past decade and more is of no concern, the ignorant just know that oil, coal, and natural gas are evil.

    Scientific studies have shown that fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes or water pollution. It’s also strange that the same people who oppose fracking want CO₂ to be pumped into the ground to keep it out of the air. Would that not cause the same problems with earthquakes as fracking supposedly does? I’d sure think so. “Don’t bother me with reason I’m an environmentalist,” seems to be the attitude.

    I’m not sure that there’s any fighting intransigent ignorance and stupidity. Logic and facts don’t work that’s for sure.

  • Roger

    Ron Paul? Dr Koo Koo Bananas? OK lets put this to rest. Don’t really care what Ron Paul “thinks”, what his political philosophy is, or how badly his suits fit. Paul is subjectively unstable and laughably naive. His foreign policy is so dangerous and child like as to be unforgivable to any thinking adult.
    He’s not a REAL candidate. He is a PRODUCT. He runs for president just often enough to sell books and newsletters and to massage his ego. He, as well as his supporters know full well he cannot win. Is he right about the Federal Reserve? YES. Good for him, that doesn’t make him a legit candidate. Many have a similar view. He’s got an extensive pork barrel record, and in his time in public office – the simple FACT is that he has proposed over 600 pieces of legislation,in his total career, only 4 have ever made it to the House, and only one ever passed – and that was a naming of a historical building. Big whoop.
    Enough with this Ron Paul silliness. He needs to get the hell off the stage. He was an amusing distraction for a while, he’s got a cult-like following of pot-head college students, democrat-cross-overs and unicorn ranchers.
    I don’t think legalizing drugs, whores and ignoring Islam and Shariah law makes sense for America…and clearly neither do most other Americans. I am in total agreement that BOTH parties have become out of control. BOTH parties spend too much, BOTH parties lack the moral compass to lead. But Ron Paul is not the answer. Grow up.

  • Michael Ejercito

    Wood and whale oil are renewable.

  • libertarian58

    ENERGY IS FREEDOM
    This is why the communist regime in office is doing everything to thwart the sources of abundant energy and replace them with the non-abundant ones. Supplies of natural gas are growing faster than we can use them and should be available for “give-away” prices. What a great monkey wrench to throw into the gearbox of the “regime”, if we will only do it.

  • Julian

    Cheap natural gas, you should see my Excel bill it has doubled in the last 5 years. My income hasn’t.

  • Buck

    Let this nuts and fruits have their way , then when the planets soil and water are completely contaminated from the mining and processing of rare earth minerals we won’t be alive to worry about breathing carbon , we will have ALL starved to death , at least those of us that survive the poisonings . You see , these rare earth minerals are necessary to carbon free energy production .

    • Joe

      Buck,
      Do me a favor and elaborate a little on your trend of thought.
      Thanks, Joe

  • Joe

    The article says “could inhibit renewables”.
    Fabulous! Keep on fracking!