The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Americans: Yes to 'All of the Above,' Oil and Natural Gas

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 30, 2014

President Obama, during his State of the Union address to Congress this week:

“… one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The ‘all the above’ energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working … “

Yes, “all of the above” is working. It refers to embracing all energy sources – oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, renewables and others. That the approach is working is seen in the United States’ increasing energy self-sufficiency. And America is more energy self-sufficient because we’re less reliant on others – chiefly thanks to surging domestic oil and natural gas production.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects the U.S. as the world’s No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas combined in 2013. Also according to EIA, U.S. net oil imports, which accounted for 60 percent of our oil use in 2005, fell to 40 percent in 2012 and will narrow to 32 percent by2040. The numbers reflect a new, all-of-the-above energy reality for America that was the stuff of dreams four decades ago, as presidential historian Michael Beschloss recently tweeted:

Americans have a new energy narrative before them because of vast domestic oil and natural gas reserves found in shale and other tight-rock formations, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling and the existence of an industry with the investment capacity and technological sophistication to deliver that energy.

While all of the above welcomes all energy sources, it hinges on the leading role played by oil and natural gas in powering our economy and modern standard of living due to their availability, reliability and energy density. For these reasons oil and natural gas supply about 64 percent of our energy today, and EIA projects they will supply 62 percent of our energy in 2040.  

Americans support renewable energy technologies, but they also support increased domestic oil and natural gas production, which forms the foundation for continued development of new technologies. Results from two separate Harris Interactive surveys (here and here) show this support and a number of the reasons for it:

  • 90 percent said producing more oil and natural gas here at home is important.
  • 73 percent support increased access to domestic oil and natural gas reserves.
  • 89 percent agreed increased domestic oil and natural gas production could help strengthen U.S. energy security.
  • 92 percent agreed more domestic oil and natural gas production could lead to more U.S. jobs.
  • 87 percent agree more domestic oil and natural gas production could help lower energy costs for consumers.
  • 89 percent agree increased domestic oil and natural gas output could help stimulate the economy.

All of the above means developing the infrastructure to support America’s energy needs. This includes construction of pipelines and other facilities for the processing, delivery and storage of oil and natural gas products. The Keystone XL pipeline is the leading example of this, and Americans strongly support it as well – 56 percent in this week’s USA Today poll.  

The new energy reality created by all of the above is an irritant to some – a small minority to be found in the little numbers on the other side of the polling results above. Credit President Obama for standing his ground despite their opposition.

In this the president aligns himself with a strong majority of Americans who grasp the significance of our country’s new energy abundance, compared to the scarcity of a few years ago: energy security, job creation, economic stimulus, greater individual opportunity. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“If we are to continue our nation’s current positive energy production trends, we must implement energy policies based on current reality and our potential as an energy leader, not the outdated political ideology of the professional environmental fringe or political dilettantes. American energy policy should reflect the reality that someone will benefit from helping to meet the world’s ever-growing need for energy. Because make no mistake; energy, specifically oil and natural gas, will remain foundational to our way of life.” 

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.