Posted August 17, 2016
Politicians’ issue positions are scribbled in sand, not granite, right? But here’s one that shouldn’t shift one bit – whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, an Independent or whatever: support for domestic natural gas and the hydraulic fracturing that’s producing record volumes of it. Below, the green and brown areas of the chart show natural gas being produced with fracking:
Thanks to fracked natural gas the United States leads the world in reducing carbon emissions, we’re more energy secure and consumers are benefiting.
No issue is more bipartisan than American-made energy – the natural gas and oil that primarily fuel our economy and our modern lifestyles, brought to us all by safe, responsible fracking.
We say that because politics being politics, things are said, and positions may stretch, bend or wobble. But not on natural gas and hydraulic fracturing, they shouldn’t. Here’s Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, talking about the climate benefits of natural gas in a U.S. Senate hearing a couple of years ago:
Kaine was right about the climate progress and natural gas then, and backing natural gas is the right climate position for America today.
The United States’ energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide in 2015 were 12 percent lower than they were in 2005, even though the U.S. economy was 15 percent larger last year than it was a decade earlier. As Kaine noted in the Senate hearing clip above, emissions have fallen not because of international accords or congressional action. They have declined because of increasing use of cleaner-burning natural gas, abundant and available because of fracking. U.S. Energy Information Administration chief Adam Sieminski:
“The drop in CO2 emissions is largely the result of low natural gas prices, which have contributed to natural gas displacing a large amount of coal used for electricity generation.”
“The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment. … The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer [carbon dioxide] emissions.”
A couple of polling points: Nearly eight in 10 Americans strongly back increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas, and seven in 10 support natural gas’ role in reducing U.S. emissions.
So should candidates for office at all levels of government.
Now, having praised Sen. Kaine on natural gas above, we’ll gently call him out on offshore energy development. He seems to have shifted from backing it – “I support exploration off the coast of Virginia …” says the energy issues page on his Senate website – to opposing it. Here’s Kaine co-authoring, with fellow Sen. Mark Warner and U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, a 2013 guest column in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, extolling offshore exploration and assuring that offshore energy activity wouldn’t interfere with military operations off Virginia’s coast:
Pre-existing agreements between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense already provide a process for removing tracts of the lease sale that would conflict with military operations, and our legislation includes a specific provision to address this issue by ensuring that the Pentagon must review any exploration (including wind, solar and fossil fuels) to ensure that there is no conflict. In the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, Eglin Air Force Base has figured out a way to work cooperatively with the industry to ensure that activities do not interfere with military training. We can do the same in Hampton Roads…. If it were easy, it would have been done already. But we also know that the opportunity that comes with coastal energy is too great to ignore.
The point is that – again – Kaine was right then, because safe and responsible offshore energy development is crucial for U.S. energy security, and it boosts jobs and the economy. Offshore decisions made today have impact years into the future. A robust offshore program, one that includes the Atlantic leasing Kaine supported just a few years ago, is an essential piece of America’s energy picture. Needed are leaders and policymakers who not only recognize the importance of the U.S. energy renaissance but who also work to advance it. Louis Finkel, API executive vice president:
“The past decade of domestic oil and natural gas development has unlocked energy resources that have helped lower prices, strengthen our national security and made the U.S. the world leader in reducing carbon emissions which are near 20-year lows. … If we are going to continue to drive investment in America, create jobs, and provide affordable energy, we must look to the future.”
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.