Huddled around the West Wing table were an unlikely group of co-conspirators with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
One participant had been fighting Obama’s proposal to raise taxes by $24 billion on oil companies; another had complained that a federal labor board is hampering hiring; a third pushed Congress to repeal Obama’s provision to clean up pollution from boilers. On the one issue they were called to discuss on that April day, however, they could rally around the Democratic administration: its recent embrace of natural gas.
For a president who has drawn withering criticism from the energy industry on issues ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to environmental restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the White House meeting — and a series of decisions that followed – – illustrate his embrace of one fossil fuel.
While Obama put his initial emphasis as president on boosting solar panels and wind turbines, natural gas is now front and center even as skepticism about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is rising among Obama’s environmental allies such as the Sierra Club.
The energy and economic reality is finally starting to sink in.