The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energizing West Virginia

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 30, 2016

Used to be, when you thought of West Virginia and energy, you thought of coal. Indeed, West Virginia remains a big coal producer, ranking No. 2 in the country (behind Wyoming) in 2014 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics. But the U.S. energy renaissance – driven by advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – has the state’s natural gas production skyrocketing, with benefits to the state and the entire country.

wvClick on the thumbnail for a two-page energy infographic for the Mountain State.

Thanks to safe fracking and the presence of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, West Virginia produced 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas last year – enough to rank the state No. 8 nationally. West Virginia natural gas output has increased nearly 500 percent since 2005. Coal still accounts for most of the state’s overall energy use and net electricity generation, but natural gas use is growing.

Natural gas from West Virginia and other states – and increased domestic oil production – has rewritten America’s energy narrative. The U.S. energy revolution has changed our country from one of constrained options because of energy limitations to one of ample energy supply and the broad possibilities accompanying that abundance. The United States is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, which has made it more secure in the world because it’s less dependent on others.

EIA expects gas-fired electricity generation to reach record levels this year, with natural gas becoming the leading fuel for power generation for the first time ever. This is helping the environment. Increased use of cleaner-burning natural gas is the chief reason the U.S. leads the world in reducing carbon emissions, with U.S. emissions near 20-year lows. Once again, thanks to fracking.

Continuing America’s energy renaissance, with benefits to the economy and individual households while advancing climate goals, really depends on implementing pro-development policies. Check the chart on Page 2 of the infographic for details on a policy path that fosters safe energy development, as well as the negative impacts of policies characterized by regulatory constraints.

Energy is essential for virtually every aspect of our daily lives. It powers national, state and local economies, gets us to work and goes into products we rely on for health and comfort. Safe, responsible energy development here at home is linked to national security as well as Americans’ individual prosperity and liberty – in West Virginia and all the 50 states of energy.


Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.