The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Affirmative Case For Energy

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 24, 2016

Compelling video interview earlier this month with Chevron Chairman and CEO John S. Watson by the Wall Street Journal – headlined the “Morality of Oil”:

This is especially timely, given the claims of some industry opponents that affordable, reliable, portable energy somehow isn’t a public good, despite some important facts to the contrary:

Leading Fuels – Natural gas, petroleum and other liquids supply 65 percent of the energy the United States uses today. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects these will supply 65 percent or more of the energy Americans use in 2040. That’s because they’re energy-rich and again, affordable, reliable and portable. EIA’s chart:


Security – Increased domestic energy production has made the U.S. more energy self-sufficient and will continue to do so with the right energy policies going forward. EIA projects that liquid fuels imports will drop to 1.5 million barrels a day in 2040, about 7 percent of total consumption (down from 60 percent in 2005).

Climate – Increased use of clean-burning natural gas is the main reason U.S. energy-related carbon emissions in 2015 were 12 percent lower than they were in 2005, allowing the U.S. to lead the world in carbon reductions. It’s puzzling how this fact escapes a lot of folks for whom emissions reductions is a chief concern.

Back to the Watson interview. When you think about providing food, heating homes, clean water, developing medicines, building homes and more, there’s a strong argument that our industry is moral. Watson:

“Every aspect of the standard of living that we enjoy today and the standard of living that’s improved over past 150 years is due to fossil fuels. So we're a noble business.  The attempt by some to vilify our industry is really troubling to me. The lights wouldn’t be on without my industry.”

Safe, responsible energy development is one of industry’s core missions. As Watson said, industry is focused on continuous improvements in technologies and practices to protect the environment. The fact is that world energy demand will continue to grow. EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2016 projects world use will increase 48 percent by 2040. The world needs more energy, not less. The moral path is safely providing it. API’s Linda Rozett on Medium:

Energy restrictions based on climate fears will not help — and in fact, would harm — the world’s underdeveloped nations, as energy deprivation is key component of poverty. … More energy, not less, is the driving force behind prosperity and standards of living. Worldwide, over the past three decades, coal and natural gas helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating poverty. … Without energy services — spanning the range from oil and natural gas to coal, nuclear, solar, hydro and more — the United States and the rest of the world would be harsher, less healthy and far less convenient.

Watson said time will show that a responsible, all-of the-above approach to energy was the right way to sustain our standard of living while spreading energy benefits to more people around the globe – while also making significant progress on climate objectives:

“The arc of history will say that the pathway to prosperity is through fossil fuels, and it doesn’t mean we don’t need renewables. We do. We need nuclear, we need all forms of energy. But if we’re going to make progress on any environmental issue I think we're going to have to stop talking past each other and stop trying to vilify the companies that are responsible for every aspect of your standard of living.”

More Watson:

“I travel to Africa, I travel to developing Asia. Morality is trying to bring fresh drinking water to these people. Morality is trying to bring affordable energy to these people. We have billions of people that are living in abject poverty, and they need affordable energy. So that’s the morality.”


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.