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Duke Energy Chief Urges U.S. Caution in Relying on Natural Gas

Duke Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer James E. Rogers said the U.S. should be careful about depending on natural gas for energy even as his company seeks to expand its portfolio of the fossil fuel.

The historic volatility of natural gas, questions about accessible reserves, and the possible environmental implications of drilling all raise concerns, Rogers told reporters today after a speech in Washington.

“If shale gas turns out to be a mirage,” and the U.S. has switched too much electricity production to gas-fueled power plants, the country will need to import liquefied natural gas, or LNG, he said. “Guess what the price of LNG is tied to? World oil prices.”

Duke Energy of Charlotte, North Carolina, is merging with Raleigh, North Carolina-based Progress Energy Corp., a move that would increase Duke’s natural gas holdings, Rogers said. Duke is also building two natural-gas plants, Tom Williams,a company spokesman, told reporters.

“We’re doing gas, we’re just not getting over-reliant,” Williams said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department are conducting separate assessments of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract natural gas from the earth by injecting chemicals to crack rock formations and allow trapped methane to escape. Environmental groups blame the technique, known as fracking, for contaminating drinking-water supplies.

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