Posted December 28, 2016
A few of the important energy headlines from 2016:
U.S. Consumers Save Big – Drivers saved more than $27 billion at the pump in 2016, and New Year’s gas prices are projected to be the second-lowest we’ve seen since 2009, according to AAA. Households saved $1,337 through lower home energy costs and lower costs for other goods and services in 2015, and abundant U.S. oil and natural gas production continued to put downward pressure on prices in 2016. American manufacturers got in on the savings, too, with electricity costs 30-50 percent lower than those of foreign competitors thanks to affordable, reliable natural gas. The United States continues to lead the world in oil and natural gas production, thanks to advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, and the stability American energy adds to world markets is paying off for families and businesses while enhancing national security.
Natural Gas Continues to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions – According an October update from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), carbon emissions from energy use for the first six months of the year reached their lowest level in 25 years. It’s the latest evidence supporting a clear pattern: As natural gas use in electricity generation goes up, carbon emissions from the power sector fall.
Ozone and methane emissions have also fallen. Strong industry standards and technological innovation (the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has invested $90 billion in GHG-reducing technologies since 2000 -- almost as much as direct federal spending) continue to make the U.S. a world leader in emissions reductions.
Expanded Energy Exports Extend U.S. Energy Leadership – Following the lifting of the obsolete, ‘70s-era crude export ban in December 2015, U.S. crude shipped to 22 nations – including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Israel, China and Panama – further diversifying global supply options, boosting the U.S. economy through increased trade activity with Europe and providing an outlet for U.S. producers. Exports of natural gas took a big step forward, also, as the first liquefied natural gas (LNG ) cargo from the lower 48 states left U.S. shores earlier this year. As the world’s leading natural gas producer, the United States has a valuable opportunity to grow our economy, create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance security for the U.S. and our allies by exporting more of our abundant natural gas supplies. Streamlining the federal approval process is critical to achieving the full promise of U.S. energy resources.
We have the resources, technology and workforce talent to expand the benefits of U.S. oil and natural gas production even further, but shortsighted policy decisions sometimes get in the way. The current administration’s decision to further restrict energy exploration in the Arctic and Atlantic, and to keep additional promising resources in the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf of Mexico off-limits to responsible energy development, dealt a significant setback to future U.S. energy security and job creation.
Obstruction of environmentally safe, lawfully approved energy infrastructure projects eliminates good-paying construction jobs and undermines our ability to deliver affordable energy efficiently to all parts of the country. Federal ethanol policy under the outdated Renewable Fuel Standard threatens to damage engines and increase consumer costs unless the Environmental Protection Agency, or Congress, acts to align ethanol volume requirements with market reality.
Despite occasional policy obstacles, the U.S. energy revolution continues to enhance America’s economic and national security and deliver major benefits to consumers, the environment and manufacturers. With commonsense, market-based, consumer-focused energy policies, the new Congress and incoming administration can maintain and extend our global energy leadership.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.