|Updated: 2/03/2012 5:42 pm
||Published: 2/03/2012 4:28 pm
DAMASCUS, AR - One of the top officials from the Obama administration's energy department is on the ground in Arkansas on Friday. The visit highlights how the Fayetteville Shale play is part of a bigger economic vision for the country.
When you see people in suits with hard hats on, it is a safe bet someone is getting educated on an industry. On Friday that person was U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.
"It's one thing to see a picture or read a report, it's something else to get out here and meet with the people," Poneman says.
Those people include Conway mayor Tab Townsell and State representative Linda Tyler (D-Conway) along with representatives from Southwestern Energy, a major player in natural gas exploration.
"We view the natural gas play in the United States as a critical national security importance, energy importance and driving prosperity of energy transformation of this nation," Poneman says.
That includes compressed natural gas stations like the one toured today in Damascus. But with energy expansion, comes safety concerns.
Jack Bergeron, senior VP for Southwestern Energy says the company is attune to concerns, touting itself as the first company to reveal the chemical mix used in hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking.”
“We know that our stakeholders are people that live in this area,” Bergeron says. “Even know we think we'll be here for a very long time, after we're gone this area will still need to be beautiful."
Not a beautiful weather day for a tour, but Poneman says a productive one with knowledge he'll take back to D.C.