Facilitating Safe and Responsible Expansion of Natural Gas Production

A key part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy is expanding production of American energy resources. Since the President took office, energy from renewable sources like wind and solar has nearly doubled, the administration provided funding for the first nuclear power plant in over 30 years, and production of domestic oil and gas has increased each year, trends the President has made clear he wants to make sure continue.

The most dramatic expansion has been in natural gas. Since taking office the President has made clear that he believes this important, abundant domestic resource holds unique promise to fuel our energy sector, fuel our vehicles, as well as fuel job growth – all while reducing harmful emissions.   U.S. natural gas production grew in 2011 – the largest year-over-year volumetric increase in history – and easily eclipsed the previous all-time production record set in 1973.

To ensure that we can successfully tap this critical resource for decades to come, we must develop it safely and responsibly, taking full advantage of the opportunity while also giving American families and communities the confidence that our air and water are safe. 

At the same time, as the administration develops a framework for safe and responsible production that builds on steps already taken by states across the country, we must ensure that those efforts continue to happen in a coordinated way.

That is why, in line with his goal of expanding safe and responsible production of natural gas, today the President issued an Executive Order to create a new Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources.

This new interagency working group will include representatives of a number of agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture,  Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Economic Council

This group will build on ongoing efforts to coordinate activities across the federal government.  For example, today, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency released a Memorandum of Understanding that will ensure close coordination of research and development activities to take advantage of each agency’s areas of expertise and eliminate redundancy. 

The new Working Group underscores the President’s strong commitment to developing our abundant domestic natural gas resources in a safe and responsible way. 

Heather Zichal is Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Related Topics: Energy and Environment