Tom Ridge was the keynote speaker at Platts Appalachian Oil & Gas Conference Calls for Increased Demand and “More Enlightened Public Message” About Natural Gas
Pittsburgh, PA, October 29, 2013 – Tom Ridge, onetime governor of Pennsylvania and former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, delivered the keynote address at the 6th Annual Appalachian Oil & Gas Conference, which was sponsored by Platts and Canary, LLC. The conference, titled “Production, Markets, Prices, and Takeaway for Marcellus and Utica Gas, NGLs, and Crude,” was held at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.
During his speech, Ridge expressed support for natural gas as a “transformational energy” that could help pave the way for American prosperity and energy independence. Ridge said natural gas drilling in his home state of Pennsylvania had helped create jobs and boost the local economy, and he said he’d like to see the rest of the country benefit in the same way.
“There are communities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that, because of this industry, are making more revenue than they ever anticipated,” said Ridge. “In Pennsylvania, most of our job growth over the past three or four years has been due to natural gas – and they’re good-paying jobs, by the way. Very good-paying jobs.” Ridge noted that the drilling activity in the Marcellus and the Utica has also been beneficial to the state’s struggling farmers, many of whom have leased their land to oil and gas developers.
“What’s Wrong with That Picture?”
Ridge was quick to point out, however, that the benefits of U.S. natural gas exploration and production went far beyond job domestic creation. Increased production of natural gas could help the U.S. and its allies around the world become less dependent on what he called “unpredictable” sources of energy.
“Think about this: The Department of State has travel warnings out for Americans to visit the following countries: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and Chad. So, you’d better not go there – but, by the way, we import oil from them. What’s wrong with that picture?”
Ridge said many of the United States’ allies, including India, South Korea, Germany, and Japan – are in a similar situation. “Western Europe gets 25 percent of its natural gas from Russia,” he said. “The politics of the Russian economy are so heavily based on exporting – but what if we started exporting natural gas to Europe? Wouldn’t they be a lot better off getting energy from us?”
Increased U.S. natural gas production could effectively reduce the world’s “global addiction to fossil fuels – particularly oil.” He said a reduced need for oil could eventually lead to a more stable U.S. economy and a more peaceful international environment in the future.
“Let’s face it: We get 11 or 12 percent of our oil form OPEC. The American economy is tied to the global economy. If there’s instability in the marketplace – particularly in the Middle East – our economy is so dependent on the global marketplace that we have no choice but to bring stability to the region,” he said. “We’re now in a position to be exporting more down the road and reducing our dependence on that part of the world for energy.”
Ridge went on to say he didn’t expect relations with the Middle East to change overnight – but he felt that, over time, increased U.S. natural gas production would contribute a gradual global change.
“I don’t think we’ll see a change in policy in the next 10 or 15 years,” he said. “But it will be good for us to become less reliant. When you put gas in your car, some of that money goes to OPEC, and they send some of that money to countries that would do us harm. It’s going to take some time to wean us off.”
A “More Enlightened” National Message
During his speech, Ridge also addressed concerns about fracking and the U.S. government’s role in energy policy. He noted that American presidents from Nixon to Obama have all voiced support for energy independence – but our efforts to get there have been hindered by a variety of factors, including lack of a clear policy and an approach that focuses too much on renewable energy sources.
Ridge said the focus on renewables was “well-intentioned,” but he said that too much focus on wind and solar power can be “disruptive” to U.S. natural gas production. He also voiced his opposition to government-mandated renewables, saying he favored keeping those decisions at the state level.
“I like renewables, but one challenge I think we have going forward is to make sure there is no national mandate with regard to renewables,” he said. “We need to be smart about their use and about the mandates around them.”
Ridge also called for a “more enlightened” message about the technology surrounding domestic oil and gas production – particularly when it came to the issue of fracking.
“The technology that gives us access to the fuel and energy that has been there for millions of years has outpaced regulations and public opinion,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If we’re serious about natural gas and its value to our security and economy, we need to refine and expand our national message.”
About Tom Ridge
Tom Ridge is president and CEO of Ridge Global, LLC, a Washington, DC-based security consulting firm. He is the former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a position he held from 2003 to 2005. Before joining the Department of Homeland Security, Ridge had a lengthy career in politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 1983, a position he held until he was elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1995.
About Canary, LLC
Canary, LLC (formerly Frontier, LLC) provides comprehensive oilfield drilling and production services to oil and gas companies throughout the United States. Canary, LLC, is the parent company of Frontier Wellhead & Supply, LLC, with operational headquarters based in Watford City, North Dakota. Together with Frontier Hot Oil, LLC; Frontier Pressure Testing, LLC in Williston, North Dakota; as well as Cable, LLC and Luft Machine, LLC in Colorado; Canary provides a one-stop oilfield drilling and production service company. To learn more about the company, visit www.canaryUSA.com.