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Reliable and affordable, it’s become the leading fuel for U.S. electricity generation

One reason to celebrate Earth Day: It provides us with super clean natural gas!


By —— Bio and Archives--April 19, 2018

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One reason to celebrate Earth Day: It  provides us with super clean natural gas!
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s official.  U.S. natural gas production has reached record highs.  The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports natural gas production for 2017 reached “the highest volume on record.”  The U.S. has led the world in natural gas production since 2009, thanks to technological breakthroughs that unlocked previously inaccessible energy reserves.

Almost a decade later, we’re still going strong—beating our own records and producing enough natural gas in 2017 alone to heat every home in America for three years.

Not that natural gas is only about heating or cooking.  Reliable and affordable, it’s become the leading fuel for U.S. electricity generation.

That development has led to another record that may surprise some people: The United States leads the world in reduction of carbon emissions—which have dropped to nearly 25-year lows thanks largely to increased use of clean natural gas—especially in power generation.

The environmental benefits don’t stop there.  A combination of natural gas, cleaner motor fuels and technological innovations have contributed to a 73 percent decrease in the combined emissions of six key air pollutants between 1970 and 2016.

And that progress occurred even while we’ve seen increases in GDP, energy consumption and vehicle miles traveled. America’s natural gas and oil industry is behind a significant share of those emissions-reducing innovations, investing hundreds of billions of dollars to improve the environmental performance of fuels and operations.

It all adds up to a conclusion worth underscoring: The United States is succeeding in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while leading the world in natural gas and oil production.

In other words, we don’t have to choose between energy security, a healthy economy and our modern standard of living on the one hand and emissions reductions on the other.

Nor do we have choose between renewables and natural gas when it comes to electricity generation.  In fact, natural gas is an essential partner that enables integration of intermittent renewable sources like wind and solar—providing reliable power when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

In a report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, climate researchers studying renewable energy plants across 26 countries found that natural gas and renewables are “highly complementary” and “they should be jointly installed to meet the goals of cutting emissions and ensuring a stable supply.”

That practical conclusion is reinforced by government projections indicating natural gas and oil will supply more than 60 percent of U.S. energy needs in 2040, even under optimistic scenarios for growth in renewables.  Further, worldwide energy demand will jump almost 30 percent in the coming decades.

With our record-breaking production, the U.S. is well-positioned to fuel sustained economic growth through natural gas and oil development. The industry supports 10.3 million American jobs across a range of industries, with affordable energy spurring a manufacturing renaissance.

We can add more jobs through energy exports—yet another welcome byproduct of our prolific natural gas development. Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) nearly quadrupled in 2017 while maintaining historically low domestic prices.

The United States is a net natural gas exporter for the first time in nearly 60 years—generating jobs here at home and providing stable energy to U.S. allies.
Combining economic and climate benefits, natural gas is already a win-win energy source here at home.  But LNG exports can replicate that winning combination globally, potentially reducing worldwide emissions as other nations, including developing countries, turn to U.S. LNG as a clean energy source.

We may soon have to make some room on the podium as other nations join us setting records in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Talk about a win-win situation.


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Todd A. Snitchler -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Todd Snitchler is Group Director of Market Development at the American Petroleum Institute and a leading expert on environmental regulations.  He earned a law degree at Akron University and holds a bachelor’s degree from Grove City College.  Readers may write him at API, 1220 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-4070


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