The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Oil & Natural Gas – Power Past Impossible … and Daily Life

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 15, 2017

The Union of Concerned Scientists is concerned about API’s new TV ad that made its debut during Super Bowl LI, launching our “Power Past Impossible” communications campaign:

A UCS blog post suggests that API’s ad, showing some of the things that are made from oil and/or natural gas, was sleight of hand to distract Americans from the reality that oil and gas are used primarily as fuels.

We think that’s trying too hard to assign an ulterior motive – as though our industry would want to hide the fact it provides U.S. consumers with abundant, affordable and portable fuels for modern transportation, home heating and cooking.

The point is oil and gas are much, much more than just fuels. We agree with UCS: Many Americans only think of combustion when they think of natural gas and oil. Thus, the Super Bowl ad – to help Americans see that countless products linked to oil and gas make modern living easier, healthier, more efficient and, well, modern. The UCS post agrees, noting:

 [M]any consumable products like asphalt, paint, and plastics have oil or natural gas as a precursor ingredient.


[T]hese products have many positive impacts in society …

Make that many, many positive impacts. The energy from oil and natural gas and their role as the building blocks for plastics, medicines, fertilizers, synthetic fabrics and more truly support the point that oil and gas are all around us. Without them our lives would be quite different, and, for one, we wouldn’t be seeing the recent achievement in lowering carbon emissions.

The UCS post credits the role of people in art, practicing medicine and space exploration, which is OK. But the post is wrong to devalue the role of oil and natural gas in providing vital support for each of those endeavors. You can't travel to Mars using a cardboard rocket. Or take healthcare: Picture yourself in a doctor’s office that’s devoid of the instruments and other items that are made from oil and gas. Instead of looking like this:


It might look something like this:


(And in truth, it wouldn’t even have painted walls or stained floors finished with a polyurethane coat!)

Returning to our point: Oil and natural gas are more than just fuels. About 1.5 million barrels per day of oil – 547.5 million barrels or 22.9 billion gallons – are devoted to non-fuel uses, thanks to a versatility that’s not seen in other energy sources.

Oil and natural gas supply most of the energy we use now, and – contrary to the UCS post – the government says they will do so in the future:

The good news is America has the energy resources and the modern, technologically advanced industry – including a sophisticated refining sector that can process all types of crudes – to supply our country today and tomorrow.


Mark Green joins API after spending 16 years as national editorial writer in the Washington Bureau of The Oklahoman newspaper. In all, he has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, including six years as sports editor at The Washington Times. He lives in Occoquan, Virginia, with his wife Pamela. Mark graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism and earned a masters in journalism and public affairs at American University. He's currently working on a masters in history at George Mason University, where he also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.