The Locomotion of Change

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What’s one changeless characteristic of the economy? It keeps changing.Take the natural gas boom and discovery of increased domestic oil and natural gas reserves thanks to the innovation of fracking. In general, this is a positive change in that it lowers the cost of energy, decreases dependence on foreign oil, and creates cleaner fuel emissions.

What’s one changeless characteristic of the economy? It keeps changing.

Take the natural gas boom and discovery of increased domestic oil and natural gas reserves thanks to the innovation of fracking. In general, this is a positive change in that it lowers the cost of energy, decreases dependence on foreign oil, and creates cleaner fuel emissions.

However, improvements can mean problems for those used to profiting from old ways of doing things. For instance, Associated Press reporter Josh Funk points out in a recent article that the drop in the price of natural gas (by as much as half) means utilities are turning away from coal. This is tough on the railroad industry, who, if you think about it, transports coal.

The possible bright side is that, even if railroads are losing profits because of natural gas, they are considering taking advantage of the lower prices for their own fueling purposes. Funk says rail companies are getting ready to experiment with engines that can burn diesel and liquefied natural gas.

He finds some who see the shift as having great potential:

“Natural gas ‘may revolutionize the industry much like the transition from steam to diesel,” said Jessica Taylor, a spokeswoman for General Electric’s locomotive division, one of several firms that will test new natural gas equipment later this year.'”

New advances often bring both positive and negative outcomes. Perhaps in this case the same innovation that is pushing the railroad industry down on one end will turn out to buoy it up on the other.

Funk, Josh. “Natural gas locomotives may prove cheaper, cleaner.” The Sun Herald. AP News. 23 Jan. 2014.

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