Natural gas is a mixture of carbon and hydrogen that develops from the fossil remains of ancient plants and animals buried deep in the earth. Used to create electricity, heat buildings and homes, cook food, dry clothes and power manufacturing operations, natural gas plays a critical role in our daily lives and our energy future. Recent technologies have made the exploration and production of natural gas resources more economical, and gas production has risen as a result. In the last few years, onshore natural gas production has increased by more than 20 percent.
Technological innovations like hydraulic fracturing, a nearly 60-year old process that is used to drill 35,000 wells in the United States each year, are opening the door to new discoveries of unconventional shale plays. It’s estimated that the United States now has as much as 2,000 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, or a 100-year supply. In a world where access to natural resources plays a key role in nations’ economies, our natural gas wealth has far-reaching implications for our economic recovery, foreign policy and energy security.
In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama identified natural gas as playing a core role in our country’s “clean energy future.” Having an abundant, clean-burning, reliable supply of natural gas promises more affordable energy for Americans. Clean-burning natural gas is critical for heating households, fueling our country’s transportation needs and supporting American manufacturing jobs. It also means that energy-intensive manufacturing companies, which had been moving overseas for cheaper energy, can stay here in the United States. This means more jobs, higher incomes and a better future for all Americans.