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.”