Natural gas was once a relatively minor fuel that attracted very little attention. Now it’s big news, and some claim it’s the fuel of the future. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains what’s changed:
Well what’s changed … is the technology that is being employed to recover increasing supplies of natural gas. The … recoverable amount of natural gas that we can get to right now, experts say, can give us supplies for the next 90 to 100 years. And a few years ago we were talking about importing natural gas. Now we’re talking about exporting, usually in liquid form, natural gas. So, there’s been a tremendous shake up here in the natural gas market.
Again, people are talking about natural gas … perhaps being the … go-to fuel down the road. There is a potential downside though. Many are saying that the methodologies and the techniques used to recover these increased supplies of natural gas, many of which … are embedded in underground shale. Technologies like fracking may cause some environmental issues — may cause some issues with the water safety and usable water. And communities where there’s an increase in this activity, those communities go through almost a boomtown phase and prices go up.
So, I think there’s some environmental safety and, quite frankly, economic issues here. And hopefully those’ll be worked out. Because, if we can access and use — safely use — natural gas and use it in more of our … energy-using technologies, that could be a big, big plus for us as a country in terms of energy self-sufficiency down the road.