"What's happening in natural gas markets has the very real potential to stop the manufacturing recovery in its tracks," said Greg Lebedev, president of the American Chemistry Council. "At the moment, the price of natural gas is serving as the single largest brake on the U.S. economy."
—Simon Romero, the New York Times, 12/13/03
Nearly 70% of American homes built in 2001 are powered by gas, a truth that screams of an increasing reliance on Natural Gas imports. Yet while our dependence on foreign oil is routinely assessed as a problem, our expanding need for Natural Gas continues to be overlooked entirely. Now this dangerously explosive substance meets its match in a dangerously explosive new book. In High Noon for Natural Gas, author Julian Darley warns that we ignore our latest crutch resource at our own peril.
Decades ago, Natural Gas was no more than a nuisance for miners; a volatile and dangerously explosive substance that added security costs to drilling operations. Now we embrace it as a clean-burning alternative to oil, demanding its arrival in our port cities at a rate that outpaces supply and importing it at a tremendous cost. What happened? How did this explosive substance, once scorned for its dangerous volatility, come to be a driving force of the US economy, an import so sought after that it is now, according to American Chemistry Council President Greg Lebedev, “serving as the single largest brake on the US economy?”
High Noon for Natural Gas explores the answers to these questions, citing energy policies that have allowed us to unwittingly develop a dependence on a dangerous and expensive import fuel. It is easy to ignore natural gas, says Darley, because Americans don’t have to pump it regularly as they do oil or gas. Its colorless and odorless presence makes Natural Gas easy to overlook, but also poses a big danger in natural gas reserves. It was a slow leak of this colorless odorless substance that ignited in Cleveland in 1944, causing an explosion that killed 128 people.
Today, with a proposed 13 new natural gas receiving ports around the United States, importation of liquid natural gas has reached new levels. But why did Boston mayor Thomas Menino sue to keep this “invaluable resource” out of his harbor following the September 11th attacks? And why does it take a fleet of coastguard ships and helicopters to usher each liquid natural gas cargo into American Ports? The liquefied natural gas these ships hold is cooled to –259 degrees for transportation. If a leak or attack causes it to come into contact with any warmer surface such as air or water, the liquid natural gas will vaporizes and form a cloud that could ignite, destroying everything within miles.
Consumers pay the price for the dangers of natural gas, whether or not disaster strikes. Only 34% of what a consumer pays for natural gas reflects the actual cost of the substance, while transportation and security costs now account for 46% of the bill. High Noon for Natural Gas demystifies the extraction and importation process of natural gas, opening our eyes to the impending end of its seemingly steady stream.
High Noon for Natural Gas is a long overdue critique of US energy policy. It is the first book of its kind, offering readers a definitive assessment of one hugely important resource, from the stark environmental consequences of extraction to the gargantuan economic implications that politicians so readily ignore. Darley demands that policymakers take responsibility for the dangers and cost of Natural Gas and Liquid Natural Gas. Consumers and concerned citizens will find High Noon for Natural Gas a courageous and well-researched expose that thoroughly shakes our shared illusion of a safe and placid energy resource.