On the Horizon: Chicken or the Egg

There’s a natural gas boom under way – and an interesting dilemma comes with it.
The United States produced a record amount of natural gas in 2011 – twenty-three trillion cubic feet — largely because of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling. Pennsylvania more than quadrupled its natural gas output between 2000 and 2010 to 573 billion cubic feet – enough to heat every home in the state for eighteen months. Shale gas well output grew faster still, quadrupling nationwide between 2007 and 2010.

For the first time in my lifetime, it is possible that our country could become energy independent. American natural gas has the potential to fuel our cars and heat our homes. At less than half the price of imported gasoline, it will be a welcome relief at the pump.

But here is the dilemma. Which comes first, the cars that run on CNG or the gas stations that will carry it? CNG must be piped in rather than trucked, so every CNG pump along the side of the road needs significant infrastructure to get fuel. Oklahoma is leading the way in making the transition. With 90 fueling stations statewide, the state has per capita more than anyone else.

In this week’s video blog, we look at how state government and private industry are working together to take some of the pain out of the pump.
Rob McClendon