Progress, The President and Natural Gas
Posted October 4, 2016
Interesting remarks from President Obama during the “South By South Lawn” event at the White House this week – with the president basically saying that the abundance and affordability of domestic natural gas is key to America’s energy present and future, even as he gave a nod to natural gas’ ongoing role in reducing U.S. carbon emissions. President Obama:
“[T]he fact that we’re transitioning from coal to natural gas means less greenhouse gases. … We’ve got to live in the real world. I say all that not because I don’t recognize the urgency of the (climate) problem. It is because we’re going to have to straddle between the world as it is and the world as we want it to be ...”
Credit where credit’s due: It’s tricky lauding natural gas in front of a crowd that’s not all that big on natural gas (not to mention while sharing the stage with actor/climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio) – even if you’re the president and even if the event’s going on in your own back yard.
Yet, President Obama talked about the realities of energy development, the energy needs of other countries around the world and the real concerns of lots of Americans about climate-related policies that could significantly impact their lives. The president:
“It is important for those of us who care deeply about this … to not be dismissive of people’s concerns when it comes to what will this mean for me and my family. If you’re a working-class family and dad has to drive 50 miles to get to his job and … the most important thing to him economically is to make sure he can pay the bill at the end of the month is the price of gas. And when gas prices are low that extra hundred bucks in his pocket or two hundred bucks in his pocket may make the difference on whether or not he can buy enough food for his kids.”
Now, we don’t agree with everything President Obama told Leo and the South Lawn audience. That same working-class household the president described most likely would be hurt by climate-related policies he has favored that pick energy winners and losers by making affordable energy less affordable.
The fact is our industry already is advancing climate solutions in at least two big ways: First, the increased use of cleaner-burning natural gas is the chief reason the U.S. is leading the world in reducing energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide. The marketplace, as the president mentioned, is choosing natural gas because it’s abundant and affordable, and as a result U.S. emissions are in decline – without an international agreement or government program, and without sacrificing energy and economic growth.
Second, the investment and innovation in the energy space that the president called for on the South Lawn also is already happening. Since 2000, industry has invested $90 billion in emissions-reducing technologies – more than double the amount invested by each of the next three industry sectors:
On this the president is right: Energy policies and energy paths must acknowledge the real-world needs of the American people. Oil and natural gas are our lead energy sources, in a broad mix of sources, because they’re abundant, affordable, portable and energy-rich. They’re the foundation of Americans’ modern standard of living while also playing a significant role in advancing climate goals.
This should be the context as we choose an all-of-the-above energy path that safely and responsibly harnesses America’s oil and natural gas wealth while using other energy sources to meet the demands of individual Americans and the broader economy.
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.