Posted December 22, 2016
“I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes;
loveChristmas is all around me, and so the feeling grows …”
This being an energy blog, we got to thinking about that song and how you could put the “E” word in place of “love” and have yourself a pretty good tune.
OK, maybe not.
Still, the notion of energy all around us is pure gold. Everywhere you go, whatever you do, energy – anchored by abundant U.S. oil and natural gas – is making life warmer, easier, healthier and more enjoyable. Let’s mark the holidays with a look at just a few of the gifts we enjoy, from the energy that’s all around us:
It’s estimated that more than 1.3 billion people around the world lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion live without clean cooking facilities, yet for Americans both are an afterthought. Meanwhile, the U.S. energy renaissance has lowered Americans’ annual energy costs – for electricity, home heating, cooking and more – by more than 14 percent since 2008. Thanks to abundant American energy, largely developed with hydraulic fracturing, U.S. families saved on average $1,337 in 2015 through lower home energy costs and lower costs of goods and services.
Everybody feels it when prices at the gasoline pump are up, so let’s all appreciate that lately they’ve headed the other way, as U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows:
Surging domestic oil production is playing a key role in lower global crude oil prices, which is impacting retail prices. Last year Americans saved, on average, more than $550 per licensed driver, AAA reports. Lower fuel costs mean lower driving costs, which helps U.S. households and also manufacturers and businesses that depend on ground transportation to deliver raw materials and finished goods.
The U.S. oil and natural gas industry supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the economy. The refining sector alone supports 1.2 million jobs for high-skilled workers who earn an average annual pay that’s 2.5 times the national average. Increasing access to offshore reserves could create more than 800,000 new jobs and grow the economy by up to $70 billion per year, according to one study. Another projects that oil, natural gas and petrochemical job opportunities will include more than 700,000 positions to be held by African American and Hispanic workers, and nearly 300,000 jobs filled by women by 2035. These are more than numbers. They represent basic economic support for American families.
Because of abundant natural gas production (thanks, fracking) and its increased domestic use in home heating and electricity generation – this year, for the first time ever, natural gas became the leading fuel for power generation – U.S. carbon emissions from generating electricity were at their lowest levels in more than two decades. Natural gas use also has helped lower ozone concentrations in the air 17 percent since 2000, according to EPA. U.S. refiners have spent more than $150 billion since 1990 on environmental improvements while developing cleaner fuels for our vehicles. Overall, industry has directly invested about $90 billion in zero- and low-emissions technologies since 2000 – almost as much as all of the rest of U.S. industries combined.
Oil and natural gas play a big role in so many products that make our lives modern: cellphones, plastic wrap and containers, medicines, health care equipment, synthetic fibers in inner- and outer-wear, the internet, advanced agriculture, entertainment, building materials and more. The list is almost endless. We depend on things made from oil and gas for food, shelter and clothing.
So, whether you feel it in your fingers or toes – or maybe it’s in your pocketbook, closet, pantry or garage – energy is all around, making for a brighter, warmer, more prosperous holiday and every day.
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.