Natural Gas, Climate and New York Infrastructure
Posted May 10, 2016
We’ve written a number of posts recently on U.S. climate gains from increased use of clean-burning natural gas (see here, here and here). Domestic natural gas is the main reason the U.S. is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions – underscored by government data this week showing that energy-related emissions in 2015 were 12 percent lower than 2005 levels.
Yet, some continue to miss the role natural gas is playing in U.S. climate progress. Instead of declaring victory, some continue to rally, protest and campaign against natural gas and its infrastructure – opposing the very thing that is achieving what they want. Unfortunately, they’re impacting public policy along the way.
Nowhere is there a better illustration of this negative impact than in New York state.
Last month state officials rejected the Constitution natural gas pipeline, proposed to bring natural gas from neighboring Pennsylvania (where safe natural gas development goes on) to a number of counties on the Southern Tier of New York (where safe development is banned). API New York Executive Director Karen Moreau talked about damage from the Cuomo administration’s decision to New Yorkers, state businesses and climate progress during a conference call with reporters. Moreau:
“The state made a politically motivated, shortsighted decision to support those who believe it advances their climate agenda. Yet, natural gas is lowering emissions. You can’t grow the use of renewables without natural gas as base load, and the governor’s own energy plan assumes significant growth in natural gas use, but we can neither produce it nor transport it here.”
Moreau said increased use of natural gas in the power sector – the U.S. Energy Information Administration says this year, for the first time ever, natural gas will be the No. 1 fuel for generating electricity – is a leading reason U.S. energy-related carbon emissions are near 20-year lows. New York’s emissions dropped 24.5 percent between 2005 and 2013, and New York City has its cleanest air in 50 years largely due to increased natural gas use. Yet, she said the governor’s policies could make gas more costly and difficult to obtain for a state that has the eighth highest electricity prices in the nation. Moreau:
“Despite being a day’s drive away from Pennsylvania’s ample natural gas supplies, Northeastern states make up five of the top 10 states for highest retail electricity prices. Governor Cuomo has banned New York families and businesses from the benefits of accessing our own state's energy resources through hydraulic fracturing, and now we’re banned from building the pipelines we need to get energy from other states. As the rest of the nation enjoys the economic benefits of the shale energy revolution, Gov. Cuomo’s policies have sealed New York off from job growth and affordable energy.”
Natural gas-fueled power projects account for 56 percent of New York’s generating capacity and more than 70 percent of all proposed generating capacity for the state is natural gas or dual fuel power projects. But the Cuomo administration is turning its back on infrastructure that’s needed to help meet those fuel needs. And, again, it’s the energy that’s primarily responsible for cutting carbon emissions. Moreau:
“Renewable energy sources have a role to play in our power mix, but pitting them against natural gas sets up a false choice. In reality, renewables and natural gas work together, with natural gas providing reliable power when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, even under the most optimistic scenarios for renewable energy growth, oil and natural gas will still supply 60 percent of U.S. energy needs by 2040.”
America’s energy revolution is making clean-burning natural gas abundant and affordable. There’s no question that its increased use is leading the way in reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. – while also lifting the economy, benefiting consumers with lower energy costs and increasing U.S. security.
To harness America’s natural gas abundance, pipelines and other infrastructure projects must be built – which means rejecting the anti-energy, anti-progress agenda of a few so that U.S. energy’s benefits can reach the many.
About The Author
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. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. 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 have two grown children and six grandchildren.