Our horrifying natural gas scenario
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change our nation's fortunes is passing us by as Congress ignores an abundant domestic fuel source.
It is beginning to wreak havoc on the economy because there's such a dramatic ratcheting back of drilling at the same time that we haven't been able to harness the fuel in any way to bring down gasoline prices or compete against OPEC oil.
Sure, the EPA issued regulations that are absolutely pro-natural gas when it comes to the building of new power plants. That's by default, though, because coal is so terrible for the skies. The EPA is following a court mandate so it can be excused for its timing, even as it will most likely lead to a new step down in that industry's business.
The coal industry doesn't hire a lot of people, and a decline in coal of dramatic proportions as utilities switch to cheap natural gas isn't necessarily crushing to the U.S. economy. But unless we officially, as a nation, declare natural gas as the bridge fuel and not just part of a solar/wind mix, we will soon be causing an industry that's been responsible for a huge number of jobs to hit the wall.
I have long been a champion of this cleaner, abundant, cheap domestic fuel because it would allow us to smash OPEC and bring gasoline down within the foreseeable future. We know that trucks are responsible for 25% of our imported oil, and it is turned into dirty diesel. We know that trains use a huge amount of natural gas.
We also know that there are natural gas truck engines that have a relatively quick payback. But we do not have enough natural gas stations, even as Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) is doing its best to provide them. We know that there's been no move by the federal government to say all federal trucks, including the post office, have to buy these trucks. There has been no support from Exxon Mobil (XOM), the largest producer of natural gas, which wants it to be used exclusively by utilities, even as pretty much every utility that can switch has switched.
That means the fuel is not going to be adopted early enough to get the price of gasoline down and to provide for domestic security against a supply interruption that could be caused by an Iran-Israel war. That's not far-fetched. The New York Times reports that the leadership of Israel is in favor of such a strike to head off a second Holocaust.
So we have the worst of all possible worlds.
We have sky-high oil prices that can hurt American consumers with this endless climb in gasoline. We have an abundant fuel that is being ignored by Congress, so it is now causing layoffs. And we remain as energy dependent on our enemies like Venezuela and on the powder-keg countries in the Middle East as we have ever been.
Put simply, it's nuts. It makes no sense. But a combination of chemical company lobbyists, the green movement and a president who is on record as despising all fossil fuels has doomed the extended use of natural gas. It's a sad commentary about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change our nation's fortunes.
Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for his charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS, which has no positions in the stocks mentioned.
I live in Singapore and go to Thailand for business often. They have little oil but lots of natural gas and have converted most of their trucks hauling product to LNG. They have also built stations to support them. This has all happened in the last five years. So our leadership can't do better than a third world country?? We need more engineers and not liberal arts majors and lawyers in government who couldn't pass calculus.
Where is the leadership?
For once Cramer's right. This divided congress and our president are missing one of the greatest opportunities to encourage energy independence and create not save thousands of American Jobs. Additionally natural gas is cheap. The technology already exists to fuel our cars and trucks with it.
On a positive note private industry is not waiting for the politicians. GM and Chrysler just announced they would begin selling this year bi-fuel NG powered trucks and UPS is in the process of converting its entire fleet of delivery trucks to natural gas.
"Lead, shut up or get the hell out of the way" In this instance the politicians should just shut up and get out of the way.
Even if you ingore Cramer you have to ask why in the hell we are burning a natural resource that's a third the cost of Oil rather than using it. Infastructure is too costly? It was costly when we started with Oil, but the profits trumpted the costs. Not enough people will use it? B.S. when they see the smaller cost they'll be all over it. The Prius is one of the best selling cars in America and not because it's pretty. Talk about lambs to the slaughter. I especial like the " retail dopes" comment after I'm up 86% on my investments year to date from one of the guys who was too scared, incompetent or FOX news'd to understand what the market was telling him over the first quarter. You keep being pissed at the world and I'll keep making money. Put in the stations and build NG cars. Why is it that you have to literally drag these idiots up to the solutions and spoon feed them before they see the point of it all?
duaheat - Ethanol is a joke! So much fuel is wasted to make it. (plant the seeds, harvest the crop, chop it up, then stew it to make the ethanol. How many trucks and tractors do you think it takes just to get ethanol to your tank?
Then we simply ship the end product to other countries. In my area most fuel only has about 5% of ethanol in it.
Natural gas comes strait out of the ground. They only have to compress it and filter it before it goes into your tank. I was just in Lima, Peru and the filling stations have Natural gas lines running to them. (No storage tanks or trucks to bring it to the station) The only thing the filling station does is compress it into your tank.
Do you not have a natural gas line running to your home? So what is the problem with opening up some filling stations? OUR GOVERNMENT ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
In Lima, Peru you can put a natural gas system in your car or truck for about $1,200.00
To fill a tank cost $13 and you can go about 150 miles on one tank.
It's clearly in the country's best interest to make full use of our natural resources responsibly. Development of our natural gas resources will create badly needed jobs, strengthen our country by lessening our dependence on foreign oil suppliers and, to boot, it's environmentally friendly and cheaper.
Congress has always and should continue to offer incentives to entrepreneurs willing to risk developing new businesses that move the country in a direction best for its long term interests.
These high gasoline prices are killing us Americans. I'm thinking about selling all of my toys ASAP (Boat, bulldozer and my truck.) To fill up my truck now cost me $160 To fill up the bulldozer $400.00 To fill up the boat would cost about $340.00
In return my family is just not purchasing anything we don't need. We are eating at home now! (We use to eat out just about every meal.) We are not going to the movies anymore. (Thank you REDBOX) We are not taking any trips this year.
I use to invest in stocks but I have been out of the market for over a year now. I think we are at the height of the bubble again. I talk to every retail person I can about how they are doing. I can tell you they are all hurting real bad. Most tell me they are just not seeing any more customers. They don't know how long they can hold on and are sure not thinking about re-signing the store leases.
You are right we need Natural Gas to fuel all of your cars and trucks within the near future. Being in Texas I have some insight as to what is happening in the oil fields. I can tell you they are pinching down as many Natural Gas wells as they can. They are not signing any more property lease so they can drill. in other parts of the world they have cars and trucks that run on Natural Gas. America does not want that because of the amount of people that is being employed by the oil companies on the refining side. Do you know how much taxes these companies and their employees pay to the government?
I hope everyone is taking note of the changes Obama has brought to the USA! I hope everyone votes to remove this clown from office. We will not survive another 4 years with him as our President.
QUOTE: "" It is EXTREMELY explosive and dangerous.""
We use it in our homes... I wouldn't use gasoline in my home on a bet!!!
It may be a matter of when Big Oil becomes thoroughly positioned to profit (obscenely) from NG. There are smaller companies that aren't waiting for government incentives to move forward, which I hope continues.
why pick Thailand as an example. why not Pakistan or Iran?
Country’s share of the world’s total NGVs
|Country||Number of Vehicles||% of Total NGVs Worldwide|
Here in Colorado, where water is very scarce, 'fracking' is often employed when drilling for water. It has been going on like this for many years... Make what you like of that but we need the water.
We who use natural gas, here in Colorado, are forced to pay a surcharge in order to support the building and maintenance of a natural gas pipeline which delivers gas to out of state consumers. This pipeline creates competition for the product, thus raising the price which we must pay for natural gas... Talk about being "hung by one's own petard."
When I called my gas company -- XcelEnergy -- the other day in order to pay my gas bill I was aked to "dial 8" in order to hear the robotic operator in English... One wonders what country now owns ExcelEnergy.
Once, when I asked an acquaintance -- an executive at Exxon/Mobile -- what he would do if his company simply left the US, he unashamedly replied: "I am a citizen of Exxon."
If we are to utilize the energy of natural gas to its fullest it will require that Congress legislate its use so that we do not find that most of it is being shipped overseas as LNG in order to line the pockets of a few wealthy businessmen and their 'toady' politicians.
When someone is right they are right... It has -- finally -- come around to be your turn...
YOU ARE RIGHT SIR!!!!!
[Not because 'I' say so, or you either, but because the numbers all add up correctly.]
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