The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Natural Gas and Winning on Climate

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 27, 2016

Climate is moving to center stage at the Democratic National Convention, where delegates are scheduled to be shown a short film, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, that features Hillary Clinton’s calls for climate action. Admittedly, I’m a little lacking when it comes to star power, but on climate there’s not a better message than this: The United States is winning.

Take a look at the chart below from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):

emissions

It shows that, thanks largely to increased use of domestic natural gas, U.S. energy-related carbon emissions in 2015 were 12 percent lower than they were in 2005 – even though the economy last year was 15 percent larger than it was a decade before. EIA says the carbon drop is mostly because of changes in the electric power sector, where natural gas has become the leading fuel for generation. EIA reports that CO2 emissions from electricity generation were the lowest since 1993:

electricity

The larger point is one we’ve made a lot lately – that while there’s a lot of talk about the need to advance climate goals, the United States already is doing it with a big assist from abundant, affordable domestic natural gas. It’s a model that is working, even as the U.S. develops more energy here at home and as our economy grows.

The U.S. leads the world in reducing carbon emissions, which is a win in anyone’s book. “It looks like indeed that the United States may have turned the corner in its greenhouse gas emissions,” White House science advisor John Holdren said at EIA’s annual energy conference earlier this month.

A reminder: Holdren also said at EIA’s conference that the notion of a national policy against using our country’s oil and natural gas energy is “unrealistic.” Certainly, that would make no sense economically or from a national security standpoint, but it also would throw away America’s ace climate card – the demonstrated, carbon-reducing benefits from natural gas. U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney of California (left, below), from a convention-associated panel discussion:

 “We’re going to need fossil fuels for a long time, but what we need to do is reduce carbon emissions in a rational way that actually helps the economy to grow. I think that’s quite possible.”

mcnerney

It’s already happening: Carbon emissions are falling as the economy grows. Because of natural gas, the opportunity is before us to strengthen our economy, benefit consumers and increase U.S. energy security – all while making significant climate progress. From API’s energy issues document that was delivered to the two political parties’ platform committees:

Natural gas has been the leading driver in helping the United States lead the world in lowering greenhouse gas emissions and in reducing air pollution, while lowering heating and electricity costs for households and businesses. And far from reducing opportunity for wind and solar power, natural gas provides the reliable base load power necessary to integrate those intermittent sources. … The market-based U.S. model of emissions reduction has proven that environmental improvement need not come at the expense of consumers or the economy. States and electric utilities are required to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy. Natural gas will continue to provide all three.

In terms of reducing emissions, the U.S. is leading the world and natural gas, unlocked by safe and responsible fracking, is leading the U.S. Big news, worth a short film:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.