David Spigelmyer: Natural gas cleanly powers our modern world
Clean natural gas is the fundamental driver behind reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change — a plot line unmistakably absent from the narrative of a recently aired National Geographic documentary, “Paris to Pittsburgh.”
The United States is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer and the global leader in reducing carbon emissions, according to the EPA. These are not isolated achievements. Expanded production of our energy resources has allowed clean-burning natural gas to meet an increasingly larger share of the nation’s electricity demand while improving air quality in the process.
Since 2005, U.S. natural gas production has increased 68 percent, while carbon emissions tied to the power sector have fallen 28 percent, according to federal government data.
The responsible development of the Marcellus and Utica shale is opening environmental doors that were unimaginable a decade ago.
Emissions of six key pollutants in Pennsylvania, harmful to the environment and public health, dropped 73 percent from 1990 to 2017, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. And, methane emissions continued their downward trend in 2017, while natural gas production increased to meet rising energy demand.
These statistics prove that we can leverage America’s abundant natural gas resources to achieve environmental gains.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon concluded earlier this year that natural gas put the United States on track not only to achieve Paris agreement emission-reduction goals, but to do so ahead of schedule.
Politically motivated narratives that paint a biased picture, such as the one presented in “Paris to Pittsburgh,” hinder our ability to accurately identify and pursue viable solutions to meet our energy and environmental goals. Removing politics from the equation will allow us to collaborate on real progress.
The environment has benefited from greater production and use of natural gas. Hardworking families throughout Pennsylvania have realized significant energy cost savings as more natural gas is used in heating and power generation, amounting to $1,100-$2,200 on average per household annually , according to our analysis of state utility data . Affordable natural gas is now the driver that has our local building trades at near full employment. Our future is bright to make products once again right here in our backyard as our home-grown natural gas supply is “the” fuel used to produce nearly everything we touch in our lives today.
As nations around the world strive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the unrest in France is a timely example of the need for policy solutions that do not burden consumers. That is an area where affordable U.S. liquefied natural gas exports can help allies around the globe achieve climate progress without harming family budgets.
From Erie to Philadelphia, Pennsylvanians want the same things: jobs, a steady or growing economy, a healthy environment and above all, opportunity for future generations. This is exactly what natural gas delivers.
Neither a transport nor a bridge fuel, natural gas is a destination fuel that has a vital part to play in how we continue to power our modern world. Our industry, born on the back of private investment and entrepreneurial spirit, is constantly investing, innovating and creating new partnerships to meet rising energy demand.
Similarly, through bipartisan collaboration and the development of energy solutions, it can lead the charge in achieving climate progress not from Paris, but from Pittsburgh.
David Spigelmyer is president of the Robinson Township-based Marcellus Shale Coalition. Learn more at MarcellusCoalition.org .