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During this week's State of the Union address, President Obama dedicated substantial time to discussing the nation's energy future, and the primary target of that discussion was natural gas.

The president highlighted his administration's efforts toward expanding oil and natural gas exploration and noted that oil production in the U.S. is currently higher than it has been in almost a decade. Moreover, Obama pledged to "open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources."

However, the president made it clear that the U.S. must move away from oil and toward an energy strategy that is "cleaner, cheaper and full of new jobs."

"We've subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough," Obama said. "It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising."

The cornerstone of this clean energy industry, the State of the Union address suggests, is domestic natural gas.

"We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy," the president remarked.

"The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy," he added.

In this context, Obama addressed safety and environmental issues - such as those related to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - that have been major stumbling blocks hindering the more rapid development of domestic natural gas resources.

"I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use," he said. "America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk."

In a move showing support specifically for the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, the president scheduled a visit on Thursday to a UPS facility in Las Vegas that is increasing its complement of natural-gas-powered trucks. Obama also planned on announcing the opening of a nearby liquefied natural gas refueling station constructed by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. 

Photo: The White House

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