Reminder: Oil & gas have been a saving a grace of the Obama "recovery"

As unfortunate as it is that President Obama and his Department of Energy have plans for doubling down on so many of the failed and fizzling policies of not merely their last four years but of too-lavish governments around the world over the past decade or so, his pick to replace Steven Chu as Energy Secretary at least doesn’t look like it’s going to be a complete bust. Even if they only see it as a ‘temporary bridge fuel,’ and are only slowly and cautiously moving forward with giving some American companies permission for further development, and will probably still regulation the heck out of it at the expense of a more robust economy (I’m going for optimism here, can you tell?), the Energy Department under Moniz seems ready to acknowledge that natural gas has been the biggest and most successful boon to bringing down carbon emissions (the stated goal of environmentalists everywhere) so far and act semi-accordingly. Last week, Moniz signalled that he’d be moving forward on some of the more than twenty pending liquified natural gas export applications just waiting in bureaucratic limbo, a move that definitely won him a few bipartisan points in Congress:

The hearing arrives roughly a week after Moniz drew strong praise from a top Republican after his appearance before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel. At last Thursday’s hearing the new secretary had a largely friendly banter with the GOP despite some collisions. …

Since being sworn in last month, Moniz has said the Obama administration intends to forge ahead on energy efficiency, alternative fuels, solar and wind power efforts.

And at the House hearing last week, Moniz pledged to move “expeditiously” to review applications for exporting natural gas, which Republicans generally support.

Let’s hope they get this show on the road soon, and the Democrats holding things up (purely for the sake of special interests and operating under the cover of discerning whether free-trade and exports are actually in the “public interest” — yes, this is real life) would do well to get on board, too. The economy hasn’t been undergoing a robust recovery by any stretch of the imagination, but plenty of the movement that we are seeing is coming from the shale oil and gas boom happening largely on state and private land throughout the country. More, please:

Yes, technologically unlocked oil and gas has created an energy revolution and industrial bright spot in the otherwise dim Obama era. By 2020, according to Yergin, shale gas alone is expected to support 4 million jobs (versus 1.7 million today). And the United States is expected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil exporter, according to the International Energy Agency. Natural gas, meanwhile, is on course to overtake coal as the second largest source of energy worldwide by 2025. …

That’s why the surging supply of natural gas, the least carbon-intensive of traditional energy sources, is welcomed by all except a deep-ecology fringe. Natural gas produces half as much carbon as coal and a third the quantity of nitrogen oxides. The more prevalent the use of natural gas, the cleaner the air across America.

Expanded oil and gas production benefits state and local government as well. North Dakota, which welcomed the industry’s new technologies, saw its taxable sales and purchases jump nearly one-third in 2012 compared to the year before. Oil and gas tax receipts for the current biennium came in at $3.8 billion, leaving the Roughrider State with a budget surplus of $1.6 billion.

The energy boom is also putting money in the pockets of North Dakota residents. On average, weekly wages have increased 40 percent since 2009. With a 3.3 percent unemployment rate statewide, North Dakota is attracting new residents in droves, and the state’s construction, financial, insurance and real estate sectors all grew significantly in the last year.