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The effects on Capitol Hill and in the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, the shifts in patterns of influence of the kind that kept West Virginia Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller (28 years in the Senate and going) and Robert Byrd (a record 53 years) in power, thereby in turn keeping the pace of energy market change glacial, are just beginning.
The natural gas rush is more widespread than the coal rush was, but it is already making for some strange political bedfellows. Greater use of natural gas is a stated aim of the Blue Dog Coalition of self-declared fiscally conservative Democrats, and Democratic governors in Colorado and North Carolina have enthusiastically endorsed more natural gas development.
Those Coal Kings of the Senate are aging or gone now, but new Gas Kings are rising. Clued-in Capitol Hill nomenklatura and their bosses are steadily shifting to adapt to the changes under way in gas fields and voter-filled communities of energy consumers across the country.
A shale gale is at hand, and the storm waves are starting to wash up in Washington.
Peter Gardett is managing editor of AOL Energy.