The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

100 Days: Industry is Committed to Environmental Protection

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 24, 2017

Our industry’s commitment to protecting the environment shows in recent EPA air quality data and other benchmarks. First, look at the downward trajectories in air emissions:

National Air Emission Trends

Occurring alongside increases in economic output, vehicle miles traveled and population:

Comparison of Growth Areas and Emissions, 1980-2015

Both reflect technological advances – U.S. refineries producing cleaner gasoline and diesel fuels that go into today’s more fuel-efficient vehicles. This has helped reduce U.S. air pollutants by 71 percent between 1970 and 2015, even as vehicle miles traveled increased by 184 percent, EPA says. Behind this is an industry investment of more than $321 billion toward improving the environmental performance of its products, facilities and operations between 1990 and 2015. Between 2000 and 2014, industry invested about $90 billion in new zero- or low-emissions technologies, more than twice that of the next closest industry sector and nearly as much as the federal government.

At the same time, increased use of domestic natural gas has helped reduce ozone concentrations in the air by 17 percent since 2005:

Ozone Air Quality 2000-2015

Significantly, that’s natural gas production with falling emissions of methane, according to EPA data – thanks to industry investments in advanced technologies that reduce leaks, capture emissions and improve energy efficiency. CO2 from power generation is down to near 30-year lows, thanks in large part to greater use of natural gas:

U.S. Natural Gas 2005-2014

All of the above points to important environmental progress – cleaner air and lower emissions of key greenhouse gases. These investments are part of overall spending by industry to find and produce the energy our country needs now and in the years ahead. Environmental protection is occurring during the exploration and development process itself through the use of seismic technology and horizontal drilling, both of which reduce industry’s environmental footprint.

Environmental protection includes energy transportation as well. Both pipelines and oil tankers safely deliver more than 99.99 percent of their cargoes to destinations.

The powerful combination of continually-improving industry practices, advancing state programs, and federal environmental statutes  ̶  all work together to provide an effective structure that allows for the essential development of the nation’s oil and natural gas resources while protecting the environment.

Click, “100 days” series.


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.