Posted January 1, 1
Our ears perked up near the end of Sunday night’s presidential debate when an citizen questioner on the stage asked Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump how their respective energy policies would meet the country’s energy needs while also protecting the environment and minimizing negative impacts on certain key job sectors.
Trump highlighted the Obama administration’s regulatory onslaught on the energy industry – and, indeed, our industry faces dozens of initiatives by agencies across the breadth of the government that could needlessly constrain energy development and derail an energy renaissance that has made the U.S. the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer.
Clinton talked about increased U.S. energy security that has come from surging domestic production:
“We are … producing a lot of natural gas, which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. And I think that’s an important transition. We’ve got to remain energy independent. It gives us much more power and freedom than to be worried about what goes on in the Middle East.”
The second part of Clinton’s comment first: Increased domestic oil production has lowered imports and made the United States more energy self-sufficient than it has been in two decades. Certainly, the country would benefit from pro-development policies that help increase access to oil and natural gas while bringing a commonsense approach to regulation and certainty and efficiency to leasing and permitting processes. Growing the energy renaissance will make the United States less vulnerable to potential supply disruptions around the world.
We’ll say this about Clinton’s characterization of natural gas as a “bridge” fuel: Yes, the U.S. needs renewable fuels as part of an all-of-the-above approach to energy. Yet, natural gas and oil anchor America’s energy portfolio today and will do so tomorrow – the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that natural gas and oil will supply about 67 percent of the energy Americans use in 2040.
At the same time, analyses are underscoring the link between renewables and natural gas when it comes to baseline power generation – because the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. The partnership between natural gas and renewables isn’t temporary, it’s essential.
On the environment, increased use of cleaner-burning natural gas is main reason U.S. carbon emissions from electricity generation are lower than they’ve been in more than 20 years, a trend President Obama acknowledged last week. The United States’ market-based approach is reducing emissions, making our air cleaner and benefiting consumers, without sacrificing energy and economic growth. Thanks, fracking!
As for energy policy and jobs, all should pay heed to last week’s report by the president’s National Economic Council, connecting abundant, affordable energy from shale to the revitalization of the country’s manufacturing sector. The report:
[F]or the roughly one-fifth of U.S. manufacturing that is energy-intensive, low-cost reliable energy is important to continued competitiveness. U.S.-based manufacturers currently enjoy a competitive advantage from affordable natural gas. Once poised to be a major natural gas importer, the United States is now the number one natural gas producer in the world. The surge in American natural gas production has lowered energy costs for manufacturers and driven job growth, with U.S. natural gas costs one-half that of Europe and one-third that of Asia. Recent analysis estimates that industrial sector consumers of natural gas were better off by about $22 billion between 2007 and 2013 due to abundant, inexpensive shale gas. That is an important part of why companies have announced tens of billions in new capital commitments in energy intensive manufacturing facilities that will come on line in the years ahead.
While this covers a lot of ground, it basically says that a robust strategy to produce more U.S. oil and natural gas has benefited and will keep benefiting the manufacturing sector – and along with it, job creation and economic growth.
As Trump said Sunday night, we have vast energy wealth beneath our feet. By safely harnessing it, under the right energy policies, America will be more energy secure, our economy and individual consumers will benefit and we’ll help improve the environment.
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.