Posted July 31, 2018
The U.S. natural gas and oil industry is committed to reducing emissions and addressing environmental challenges. Consider:
- Industry’s $108.2 billion in direct spending on greenhouse gas mitigating technologies from 2000-2016 was more than double the investments of each of the next two private industry sectors.
- Methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems are down 14 percent since 1990, even as natural gas output increased more than 50 percent over the same period.
- Thanks to increased use of domestic natural gas, the United States leads the world in cutting carbon dioxide, reducing levels to 25-year lows.
These efforts result from industry initiative, not government policy. Companies are demonstrating that meaningful solutions can be achieved through voluntary, collaborative efforts, and the U.S. is breathing easier as a result. In a recent Houston Chronicle commentary, Apache Corporation’s John Williams described industry’s voluntary efforts to reduce emissions, showcasing them for what they really are: sound business decisions.
“The industry is highly motivated to reduce methane emissions. First, our workers take pride in delivering a clean fuel source that has helped keep energy prices low. In addition, methane is the primary component of natural gas, so companies also have a financial motivation to capture as much as possible.”
Our industry is highly motivated to reduce methane emissions; no one is more focused on it. That’s the foundation for the recent launch of The Environmental Partnership – more than 40 companies committed to voluntarily advancing progress in reducing methane emissions from natural gas and oil production through technologies, leak detection and improving processes. It’s a truly momentous initiative, with companies agreeing to share scientific information, innovations and best practices while being publicly accountable for progress on further reducing emissions from energy production.
Apache was an early joiner of The Environmental Partnership, which Williams represented during a recent Bipartisan Policy Center event to discuss sustainability initiatives and environmental progress in the natural gas and oil industry:
“The Environmental Partnership…is investing in the best and the brightest to share the best ways to accomplish emissions controls and other environmental performance metrics — and use that as a learning curve [for the rest of industry].”
The key takeaways from the event further reinforce what we’ve been saying all along: industry is leading the way in reducing emissions, investing in renewables and other low-carbon technologies, and making our air cleaner. Williams:
“One of the things that argues for the voluntary [instead of regulation] is that the diversity of energy production — geographically whether it’s Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico, whether it’s conventional or unconventional, for different geologies, different ages of equipment, different pressures — there’s no one size that fits all. When you look at the diversity of the companies that are operating in this space, it’s big multi-nationals and small family-owned companies. The diversity is too much to fit into a standard ruling.
Set goals and objectives, but let people figure out how to get there in a way that fits their particular situation. That’s what we believe – and we see evidence that supports that belief – that this is the best way to achieve improvements, partially on a cost-effective basis. It’s easy to write a rule that will spend a lot of money, but won’t produce much in the way of [emissions] reductions.”
Industry is guided by strong state regulatory systems, its own best-in-class standards and a broad commitment to reduce methane and other emissions. Capturing as much methane as possible is our business, and it’s also the right thing to do for the communities where we operate and where our employees work and live.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in Washington, D.C., and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.