The NewYork Times

Obama’s Enthusiasm for Gas Drilling Raises Eyebrows
The New York Times

President Obama’s newfound interest in expanded natural gas drilling yesterday surprised many on all sides of the drilling debate, from environmentalists to drillers and even the coal industry.

Representatives of drilling groups said they had no idea that Obama would make natural gas his lead olive branch to the newly empowered Capitol Hill Republicans. But they were pleased that he did.

« I was surprised by the venue, » said Chris Tucker, spokesman for Energy In Depth, a drilling industry group formed to fight off federal regulation of shale gas drilling.

Obama’s remarks seemed to refer to vast new sources of shale gas in Pennsylvania, Texas and their neighboring states. Improvements in « hydraulic fracturing » technology have allowed production from formations under those states previously thought to be too expensive to exploit.

« We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country, » Obama said when he was pressed for issues on which he could compromise with Republican leaders. « Are we doing everything we can to develop those? »

Another gas group, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, called Obama’s remarks « And they were his strongest public comments to date in support of natural gas. »