By now, Foolish readers should be well-acquainted with those from within the energy industry who are pushing for natural gas as a bridge to a cleaner energy future. The marquee names include T. Boone Pickens, whose eponymous plan recently turned one year old, and Aubrey McClendon, whose Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) is busily unlocking our country's massive shale gas deposits in partnership with BP (NYSE: BP ) , Plains Exploration & Production (NYSE: PXP ) , and other aspiring shale aces.
The pleas by these gentlemen, while well-articulated, are also plainly self-interested. Both men stand to reap (or in one case, rebuild) fortunes on the back of any sort of natural gas renaissance. In my view, we need more independent voices making the same cogent arguments about the superiority of natural gas over coal.
Cue the recent opinion piece by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the U.K.'s Financial Times. While I would have preferred to see this message delivered in the New York Times, given the need to reach a certain American demographic, the contents are commendable.
The title of the piece, "How to end America's deadly coal addiction," makes Kennedy's target quite clear. As with cleantech venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, coal is identified as the decided enemy of our health, environment, and climate. Kennedy anticipates a time when technologies like solar, geothermal, and wind will serve most of our needs. In the meantime, though, he identifies natural gas as an "obvious bridge fuel" to that greener future.
While I've been touting the success of E&Ps like XTO Energy (NYSE: XTO ) and EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG ) in tackling unconventional gas resources on this site since 2007, I think the impact of shale plays on America's energy supply has only more recently come to be appreciated. It's wonderful to see a bona fide environmentalist like RFK Jr. lend his support to natural gas as an abundant and vastly cleaner alternative to coal. With luck, we will see other public figures join him in this call.
Now if the natural gas industry only learned to lobby as effectively as Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU ) and the rest of the coal crew, we could see some serious climate progress in relatively short order.