Choosing the Energy Common Ground
Posted July 26, 2016
Let’s talk about choice – our energy choice, which is so relevant in this election year.
The great news is that America’s energy renaissance, which has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, means we can discuss our country’s energy future from a position of abundance and strength – free of the partisanship that frames so many other issue conversations in Washington. The need for energy is bipartisan, and we should approach our energy choices in that spirit.
This graphic pretty clearly lays out America’s energy reality today and in the foreseeable future, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). What we see is that in 2015, the U.S. energy mix was led by oil and natural gas, with petroleum/other liquids and gas supplying 67 percent of the fuels Americans used. Include coal and the fossil fuels share last year was 83 percent.
At the bottom of the graphic you see EIA’s projection for 2040 – with oil and natural gas supplying 68 percent of our energy, and fossil fuels totaling 78 percent. America will need the other energy sources as well, but our economy and modern way of life will continue to be powered primarily by abundant and reliable oil and gas. U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney at The Atlantic’s energy/environment panel discussion from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia:
“We’re going to need fossil fuels for a long time, but what we need to do is reduce carbon emissions in a rational way that actually helps the economy to grow. I think that’s quite possible. We’re going to need renewables, we’re going to need a certain amount of petroleum and natural gas. We’re going to need nuclear. We need to make sure Americans have energy for our economy.”
The congressman is right: We need energy developed in an environmentally responsible way, and we need to reduce carbon emissions. That’s already happening. Thanks primarily to increased use of natural gas – projected by EIA to be the leading fuel for electricity generation for the first time ever this year – the United States is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions. Last year, U.S. emissions were 21 percent below 2005 levels.
Summing up, we’re developing more and more home-grown energy, and our economy is growing. And not only are both taking place without increasing carbon emissions, which has been true throughout modern history, U.S. emissions are falling. American energy also is benefiting consumers, helping to lower household energy costs and positively impacting prices at the gas pump.
Now check out this graphic, which illustrates two ways Americans could respond to this domestic energy renaissance. The benefits of choosing a pro-energy policy path, as detailed in a study last year by Wood MacKenzie, are on the top half in blue – including more oil and natural gas production, more jobs supported by industry, GDP gains, more revenues for government and benefits for individual U.S. households by 2035.
The bottom half of the graphic, in red, shows the estimated impacts of an energy policy path characterized by regulatory constraints: less oil and gas produced, fewer jobs, lost GDP, lower revenues to government and higher household energy expenses by 2035.
It’s a no brainer. For a more secure U.S. energy future, we should choose the policy path that fosters safe and responsible development of America’s energy wealth – for security, for economic growth, individual prosperity – and to continue advancing climate goals.
It’s a policy path that includes increased access to U.S. reserves, onshore and offshore – where 87 percent of the acreage under federal control is off limits to development. It includes an approach to regulation, leasing and permitting that reasonably manages safe energy development, providing the kind of predictability that’s needed to encourage private investment and innovation.
This positive, pro-energy policy path is available, and it will help ensure American energy security today and tomorrow. U.S. voters understand this well, telling a recent Harris Poll that they support increased domestic production (77 percent), access to reserves (81 percent) and increased energy infrastructure (82 percent), and that they oppose impediments to domestic energy like higher taxes and harmful government mandates such as those in the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Getting the policy right involves getting leadership right, which voters also grasp. Nearly seven in 10 told Harris they would be more likely to support candidates who support producing more oil and natural gas domestically. It’s a message to policymakers and would-be policymakers alike: Choose energy, American energy. Come together on common energy ground.
“We can’t be anti-energy,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas told another convention-associated event, adding that congressional legislation signed by President Obama earlier this year lifting the ban on U.S. oil exports was a positive step. “We are going to be using fossil fuels,” Cuellar said at The Atlantic event. “Fossil fuels are going to be around for a while.”
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 four grandchildren.
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