Bright Hopes for the Blue Flame

With oil so dear, natural gas heats up as a clean substitute

Imagine a fuel that is clean burning, easy to produce and sells for far less than petroleum. The U.S. has a generous supply of just such a fuel: natural gas, also known as methane. Neglected during the 1980s because of abundant supplies of cheap crude, gas has suddenly become an attractive alternative again. With the Middle East crisis pushing petroleum prices to $30 per bbl., energy experts and environmentalists have begun urging greater development of natural gas to wean the U.S. from its heavy dependency on crude oil.

The U.S. has enough natural gas in the ground to last 60 years...

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