Letter: At What Cost Boom?

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Knoxville, TN 37902

When President Obama ran for his second term, he campaigned on an “all of the above” energy policy. But critics say he favors above-the-ground energy sources, such as wind and solar, over those beneath the ground, such as oil, natural gas and coal. His record—if not his words—backs up that claim.

The president has long favored repeal of tax credits for oil and natural gas companies that boost production and maintain competitiveness in global markets. Ending those credits would amount to a whopping tax hike for these companies, including those that do business in our state, providing good jobs and generating tax revenue. Combine this flawed proposal with the stalled fossil fuel energy projects stacking up around the country and it doesn’t sound like an “all of the above” energy policy to me.

Maybe the president’s intentions will become clear in light of the natural gas boom that’s sweeping parts of our country, boosting regional economies and sinking unemployment rates. Our state could be part of that boom. According to the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association, two-thirds of our land—including the Chattanooga Shale formation—could support significant natural gas development. Initial exploration has begun.

The momentum is there today. But if the president and his allies in Congress succeed in raising taxes on oil and gas businesses, look for investment in new gas exploration here to slow, turning a potential boom into a disappointing bust.

Ken Gross


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