Local
9:55 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

U.S. Energy Secretary Touts Benefits of Natural Gas on Stop in Pittsburgh

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the Department of Energy supports the responsible development of natural gas, and added it's an important part of the nation's energy future. On a stop in Pittsburgh Thursday, Chu said the U.S. needs an "all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy."

"Yes we want to develop wind and solar, and we especially want to develop it so they can compete with any form of energy without subsidy, and we think this is around the corner. By 'around the corner,' we mean within a decade or so," said Chu.

In the meantime, he said the development of natural gas should continue. In his state of the union address, President Obama outlined estimates that show that development will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. But many environmental groups worry about how public health, air, and water will be affected. Chu said drilling for natural gas can be done with minimal impact to the environment.

"It's going to take a combination of state regulation. It's going to take improving and making sure those best practices we have now are adopted," he said. "We know how to drill with precautions, and we have to be very careful about the water around us."

He also said the industry needs to be transparent, calling on the need for requirements that companies disclose what chemicals they use in fracking fluids. Several companies drilling on the Marcellus Shale are already offering up that information.

Secretary Chu joined Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on a tour of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and highlighted six patents it received in 2011 for technologies that are helping address the nation's energy needs. That work, along with the work of the DOE, said Chu, is just part of his job, having been tasked with carrying out President Obama's energy agenda.

"Which can be loosely summed up as 'we're here to save the world, save the United States, make the United States more prosperous to generate jobs,' because everything is tied to energy," said the secretary, "how we use it, how we use it efficiently, how we generate it, and especially how we can generate it on our own shores."