Exxon’s purchase of natural gas firm XTO is in the news, and while they are currently removing gas from Texas shales, they may port their drills up to the Marcellus shale area, as well. As detailed here in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram:

Exxon’s impending purchase of Fort Worth-based XTO — a leading U.S. gas producer and expert in unconventional plays such as North Texas’ Barnett Shale — signifies the return of the world’s largest company to major U.S. production for the first time in years

Boone Pickens, the Dallas investor and natural gas advocate, said the Exxon-XTO deal is an important development in the country’s energy security.

Energy company executives also said Exxon’s deal to buy XTO advances the argument for using natural gas as a “bridge fuel” toward renewable energy production.

One energy executive is quoted in the article as saying

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. There’s no silver bullet to this energy issue that we’ve got. We need a portfolio of alternatives.”

Those include conservation, renewables, and nuclear, he said, “but at the end of the day, unless we’re all going to start walking to work, the fossil fuels have to play a role over the next two or three decades.”

And what is so wrong with us all walking to work?  That’s what we really need, after all.

Unfortunately, necessary efforts to recast land-use planning and public transportation are being left out of these discussions. Burning more fossil fuel, albeit a cleaner one than oil-derived products, is not really a bridge when what we need to do is build our cities, towns, and transportation networks differently, radically ratcheting down dependence on the automobile.  We must start on this path now, and not rely on technology, be it gas or energy alternatives such as solar power. The real solutions lie in less technology, fewer automobiles, not different and more technology.