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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) 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), 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) 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) 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) off this discount raise. Goldman upgrades from sell today. ... I love the Liberty Media (LINTA) way to play Sirius (SIRI) that came up on flagship yesterday.

At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in the stocks mentioned.

Stock quotes in this article: AAPL, CVX, COST 
Jim Cramer, co-founder and chairman of TheStreet.com, writes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's RealMoney and runs the charitable trust portfolio, Action Alerts PLUS. He also participates in video segments on TheStreet.com TV and serves as host of CNBC's "Mad Money" television program.

Mr. Cramer graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was president of The Harvard Crimson. He worked as a journalist at the Tallahassee Democrat and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, covering everything from sports to homicide before moving to New York to help start American Lawyer magazine. After a three-year stint, Mr. Cramer entered Harvard Law School and received his J.D. in 1984. Instead of practicing law, however, he joined Goldman Sachs, where he worked in sales and trading. In 1987, he left Goldman to start his own hedge fund. While he worked at his fund, Mr. Cramer helped start Smart Money for Dow Jones and then, in 1996, he co-founded TheStreet.com, of which he is chairman and where he has served as a columnist and contributor since. In 2000, Mr. Cramer retired from active money management to embrace media full time, including radio and television.

Mr. Cramer is the author of "Confessions of a Street Addict," "You Got Screwed," "Jim Cramer's Real Money," "Jim Cramer's Mad Money," "Jim Cramer's Stay Mad for Life" and, most recently, "Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even." He has written for Time magazine and New York magazine and has been featured on CBS' 60 Minutes, NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams, Meet the Press, Today, The Tonight Show, Late Night and MSNBC's Morning Joe.

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