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Oklahoma to host field hearing on natural gas


TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma will host a congressional field hearing later this month on the affordability and accessibility of natural gas.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., was named to the task force on the nation's ``pending natural gas crisis.''

``I am pleased that Oklahoma will have the opportunity to take part in this discussion,'' Cole said. ``Oklahoma should have an important voice because we are the third-largest producer of natural gas in the United States.''

House Speaker Dennis Hastert appointed the task force to identify the emerging problems and possible solutions to soaring energy prices linked to high demand for natural gas and inadequate domestic supply.

Lawmakers worry that soaring prices could hurt the already troubled national economy.

Task force members will gain a better understanding of how natural gas prices affect Oklahoma and what will be needed to avoid a crisis with the field hearing, Cole said.

``The problem is not of availability of natural gas,'' Cole said. ``It is a problem of accessibility.''

Bureaucratic red tape and environmental lawsuits have been blamed for keeping the nation's natural gas supplies from the marketplace.

Cole announced the hearing's date, Aug. 27, but did not set the time or place.

Spokeswoman Julie Bley said those details would be made available next week.

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