Obama's Determined to Derail Nat Gas
Posted at 9:30 a.m. EST, Feb. 19, 2010
Will the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee kill the natural gas boom in this country? It sure will if Henry Waxman has his way ... and he's the chairman! He's leading an investigation into this endless charge that "fracking," the way to untap our 100 years' worth of energy, pollutes drinking water.
He's also suggesting that the EPA regulate drilling, which, given the activist EPA, pretty much would mean the end of the boom.
Waxman's smart. The American people care passionately about their drinking water. The ill-fated attempt by Chesapeake (CHK - Get Report) to drill near the New York reservoir and a vandalism incident that involved dumping brine associated with fracking into a drinking water well in Pennsylvania have literally turned the politicians in this country against this source of energy independence that would be cheaper and cleaner than oil and would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.The natural gas industry itself has repeatedly said that this regulation is much ado about nothing. In fact, T. Boone Pickens, a leading proponent of nat gas as a way to fuel cars and trucks, in keeping with his backing of Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE - Get Report), bet me $50 that something good comes out of Congress by Memorial Day that will encourage natural gas use for vehicles and that President Obama will embrace it. I see it going the other way. While I am bullish on the companies because of underlying valuations -- consider Mitsui's (MITSY) $1.4 billion bid for a third of Anadarko's (APC - Get Report) Marcellus holdings and the great report from Chesapeake the other day -- I am beginning to wonder if the president might side with Waxman and call for a drilling ban for natural gas. The president has studiously avoided mentioning the fuel as even on the menu for our nation's energy policy, and his adviser Austan Goolsbee on "Mad Money" refused to say the president endorses the cleaner fuel at all. It is at the end of the list after solar, wind, biofuels like ethanol, nuclear and then coal. I question whether it is favored over imported OPEC oil. It is a fact of life that the president listens to his EPA and is in league with Waxman on these issues. The single biggest detriment to natural gas as a bridge fuel remains the president of the United States, and the only question I have is whether he will put a moratorium on further drilling until the EPA can launch a multiyear study of the hazards of natural gas drilling to the nation's water supply. That will allow nuclear and clean coal to catch up to the fuel's use and keep the focus on anti-carbons or sequestration. I have never seen anything like this. This president is determined to frustrate natural gas. There is an action point here: XTO Energy (XTO) must be dumped, as Exxon (XOM - Get Report) can walk away from XTO if the government bans fracking or halts it. Why bother to own this one? Random musings: Good call by Brian Gilmartin in the Columnist Coversation yesterday about buying Schwab (SCHW - Get Report) off this discount raise. Goldman upgrades from sell today. ... I love the Liberty Media (LINTA) way to play Sirius (SIRI - Get Report) that came up on flagship yesterday. At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in the stocks mentioned.