Posted July 19, 2016
Energy and Campaign 2016 are a good fit. Whatever opportunity America has for present and future economic growth, individual prosperity and national security is connected to decisions voters will make this fall – and all of these things can be linked to energy.
All of us need energy, which is the reason it’s a rare bridge between the usual partisan divides. API President and CEO Jack Gerard earlier this year:
“As the two political parties look to … unify their parties behind a slate of candidates and party platforms, we want to remind them of the bipartisan nature and foundational role of our candidate: Energy, particularly oil and natural gas, which makes our modern society possible and provides our quality of life.”
A couple of charts illustrate the critical importance of choosing the right energy path for America. First, growth:
The United States is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, which is a tremendous national asset considering that oil and gas supplied 67 percent of the energy we used in 2015 and are projected to supply 68 percent of the energy we use in 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Along with rising oil and natural gas output – thanks to private investment and fracking – we’ve seen increased use of gas for electricity generation, which segues into chart No. 2, on progress:
The emergence of natural gas as the leading fuel for power generation is the chief reason the U.S. is leading the world in reducing energy-associated carbon emissions. Affordable natural gas is helping reduce energy costs, saving the average U.S. household almost $750 on an annual basis since 2008, EIA says. We’ve also seen progress on the security front with falling crude oil imports reflecting increased domestic production that has made our country more energy self-sufficient.
Again, our energy future depends on leadership and policy choices that Americans can affect with their votes in a few months. At this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, a policy discussion hosted by the Washington Post focused on energy, including discussion of overall energy policy, regulation and climate. In a conversation with the Post’s Stephen Stromberg, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour called for policies and regulatory approaches that foster more U.S. oil and natural gas production:
“The Republican Party stands for an energy policy that’s for more abundant, affordable American energy. … We think we need to have rational regulation and that many of the regulations that are taking place, not only on the energy industry but on banking and a lot of other people, is not rational, grossly excessive and burdening the economy.”
Barbour said the states have done a good job regulating oil and natural gas development and should continue to be responsible for primary oversight:
“Since the beginning of the oil and gas industry, states have regulated production. States have regulated drilling, states have regulated determining how big a unit you can drill … they’ve regulated fracking, which by the way has existed since the 40s, we just gotten a lot better at it with directional drilling and improving the ways that we’ve fractured these rocks. I think the control should stay, I think the regulation should stay [with the states]. … I don’t see anybody who can make a straight-faced case that the states haven’t done a good job. My life experience is that the government closest to the people governs best and that people trust their local and state government and we should put more of the activity there and we’ll get better results. And I think that’s been proven out in the oil and gas business.”
The United States is leading the way on climate, he said, and it is showing that this can be done without crippling economic growth:
“Today about 95 percent of the tailpipe emissions from automobiles in America are eliminated compared to 1970. … We have led the world very successfully and done it in a way that keeps a very strong economy. We now generate energy … to a degree that we wouldn’t have dreamed of in the 1970s when we were having gas lines and rationing and that sort of stuff. We have increased our oil production, we have increased our gas production – we’re still the Saudi Arabia of coal – so we’ve got it and between us, the Canadians and the Mexicans we can be genuinely self-sufficient. North America can be self-sufficient for energy and for a long, long, long time. But we’ve done it in a way that our economy continues to grow in many ways …”
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.