The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

America’s Natural Gas-Led Energy Transition

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 28, 2016

Speaking publicly for the first time since the election, outgoing EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy last week touted her agency’s regulation-based approach to environmental protection – perhaps anticipating scrutiny those measures may get from the incoming Trump administration. McCarthy defended the Clean Power Plan and more broadly argued that recent U.S. emissions progress validates EPA's actions on her watch:

“Folks, clearly there is more going on in our world and our energy sector than the Clean Power Plan can account for. … This is all about the energy transition that’s already happening,”

McCarthy is onto something here. There is indeed critically important climate progress being made in the United States, thanks to an energy transition – though perhaps not precisely the one McCarthy had in mind.

It’s natural gas – the increased use of which is the primary reason the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects U.S. energy-related carbon emissions this year will be the lowest since 1992:

co2_by_source

It’s a spectacular achievement and a model for other nations seeking to lower their CO2 emissions. The U.S. is reducing emissions while increasing energy production and expanding the economy – breaking the pattern where economic growth historically is accompanied by emissions increases.

Thanks to record-setting production of domestic natural gas, up more than 50 percent between 2005 and 2015, there’s a supply abundance that is increasingly is prompting the marketplace to turn to affordable natural gas for power generation, benefiting the environment while lowering costs for consumers:

electricity_generation

This energy transition is driving significant emissions progress – though it’s a market-based approach, not the product of a Washington regulatory regime. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“Markets, not government mandates, are the best way to achieve our nation’s energy, economic and environmental goals.”

Looking to America’s future energy policy path, the new administration and Congress should support what works. That is, market-based strategies fostering more of the safe energy development that’s boosting U.S. prosperity, helping consumers and advancing climate objectives – all without sacrificing economic growth.

This includes developing needed infrastructure such as new natural gas pipelines, additional storage capacity and more. For example, a new EIA report highlights key project proposals to transport natural gas from the Utica shale region, which are now before federal officials.

Similar projects are needed across the country, particularly in the Northeast, where consumers historically have paid higher prices for energy than other parts of the country due to inadequate pipeline capacity. These and other energy infrastructure components must be allowed to advance according to law and established review procedures.

Developing more U.S. energy, as well as the infrastructure needed to deliver energy where it’s needed, are keys to extending America’s energy renaissance. It’s an energy transition that is creating opportunity and benefiting the environment – a bipartisan path to a more prosperous, more secure U.S. Gerard:

“As we look ahead to the new administration it is our hope that energy will remain above partisanship and focused on what matters most; meeting the ever-growing demand for energy, enhancing America’s energy security and above all ensuring that consumers continue to enjoy safe, abundant, affordable and reliable domestically produced energy for many years to come.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.