Energy, the Common Ground for Our Union
Posted February 6, 2019
Tuesday night’s State of the Union message was aimed at Washington finding common ground to work for the American people. President Trump said policymakers should embrace the “boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.” It struck a chord; more than seven in 10 Americans said they liked the speech’s approach and tone.
The challenge now is to move beyond rhetorical flourishes to action. Think: energy. In the quest for the common ground to do the common good, lawmakers can start with energy.
Energy is America’s strong suit. Surging domestic production, which Trump alluded to, has made the U.S. the world’s leading natural gas and oil nation:
Which can be the foundation for a new, cooperative chapter in the nation’s capital.
Natural gas and oil run the U.S. and world economies, and they are projected to be the leading fuels for decades to come. This means opportunity – and the chance for Washington to get to work. API President and CEO Mike Sommers:
“I applaud the President’s commitment to America’s energy leadership, which has the power to unify Democrats and Republicans in a divided Congress to put up some major wins for the American people.”
Everyone can agree that abundant, affordable energy – in the form of natural gas and oil – makes the United States stronger. They drive economic growth, increase U.S. energy security and help advance climate goals. Consider:
- Record-breaking production of oil (11.7 million barrels per day in December) has added to global crude supply, putting downward pressure on prices. This, in turn, has contributed to lower prices at the pump – averaging $2.27, according to AAA – and savings for consumers.
- Increased use of clean natural gas as a fuel for generating electricity is the main reason U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have declined – even as global CO2 emissions have risen 50 percent since 1990.
“America’s natural gas and oil industry is meeting record consumer demand and leading the world in production – all while driving emissions to their lowest levels in a generation. Our industry continues to prove every day that environmental protection and economic growth can and should go hand in hand.”
- Abundant natural gas is the essential partner to the growth of renewable energy – filling in to fuel generation when intermittent sources aren’t available. Natural gas and oil also go into many of the materials used to manufacture wind turbine blades and solar panels. Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz:
Natural gas will have "a fairly long run … because as more and more variable resources are brought into the electricity system, the more you are going to need natural gas for the balancing of that system.”
Two points on the path forward. The president talked about infrastructure and trade. Investment in 21st-century energy infrastructure is essential to safely deliver natural gas and oil to American consumers. Congress should work with the administration to ensure these investments can be made, to help fully harness significant natural gas and oil potential in the Permian Basin and other reserves.
We’ve talked about difficulties that the administration’s tariff and quota policies pose for natural gas and oil development (see here, here and here), as well as impacts on important U.S. energy trade. Tariffs and quotas on imported steel should be ended so that critical infrastructure projects aren’t delayed or blocked.
Also mentioned at State of the Union was the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Congress should approve it to continue relationships between the three nations that have benefited U.S. energy and consumers. Sommers:
“The energy markets of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are highly integrated and interdependent, and the free flow of energy products across North America is part of the reason our industry supports millions of American jobs, strengthens our national security, and helps our companies deliver the energy Americans rely on every day. We urge Congress to approve the USMCA without delay.”
At its closing, the State of the Union made a spirited appeal for American bipartisanship: “We must choose whether we squander our inheritance — or whether we proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.”
Indeed we can, with a big assist from energy.
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.