President Bush didn't say enough about the importance of natural gas in his National Energy Policy, according to an organization representing the nation's 29 oil- and gas-producing states meeting in Salt Lake City.
"A major energy source has not received nearly enough attention," Oklahoma Gov. David Walters said during a work session of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission held at the Utah governor's mansion Thursday.Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter, who chairs the commission, Kansas Gov. Joan Finney, and other commission members all supported a resolution from Walters calling for more emphasis on the use of natural gas.
"Actively promoting the national use of gas will clean the air of its impurities, limit, if not end, this nation's dependence on foreign oil and greatly reduce our deficit in the balance of trade," the resolution concludes.
The Oklahoma governor told the group that the president's energy strategy devoted only one sentence to natural gas, even though there is a "tremendous surplus" of the fuel available.
"I don't know if the bias was intended, but certainly there was a bias," Walters said.
But some members of the organization charged with administering the Interstate Compact to Conserve Oil and Gas, thought the resolution was too biased toward natural gas.
"I'm a little concerned about the message this may send about the development of domestic oil reserves," said Marty Mefferd, the California state oil and gas supervisor.
Dale Nations, a Northern Arizona University geology professor who represents Arizona on the commission, raised the same concern about coal not being mentioned.
At Bangerter's suggestion, the resolution was amended to include a reference to domestic oil and to call for "the expanded use of natural gas as a primary energy resource" rather than "our primary energy resource."
Bangerter said the commission should continue to take a broad approach. "I even believe it might be sensible to think about nuclear as an energy source for the future," he said.
Utah, like Oklahoma and Kansas, has huge deposits of natural gas waiting to be tapped. Finney said the world's largest deposit of natural gas, Hugoton Field, is in the southwest corner of Kansas.
"I think it is very timely because of the problems we have just encountered in the Persian Gulf," Finney said of the resolution.
According to an Energy Department study cited in the resolution, the United States has a 35-year supply of natural gas based on current usage. Another study cited suggested new technologies could make the supply last for 75 years.
Utah, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado are taking the lead in providing incentives to convert cars to run on compressed natural gas. Such a conversion costs about $1,800.
The commission's midterm meeting will continue through Friday.