Right Under Our Feet
Posted June 25, 2019
Ten years ago this month the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill died in Congress, and many still argue for a legislative solution to the challenge of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Happily for the United States, there’s a solution right under our feet – one that has led the way on emissions reductions, eclipsing what supporters of Waxman-Markey projected for their proposal, while fueling American economic growth and a range of consumer benefits.
It’s natural gas. Together with advanced technologies, many of them innovated by our industry, abundant natural gas has been the agent for progress on multiple fronts.
In the decade since Waxman-Markey, we’ve seen increased use of natural gas in fueling power generation become the primary reason U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest levels in a generation. The chart below shows projected 2009 U.S. CO2 emissions under Waxman-Markey (orange line) and actual U.S. emissions (blue line) from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):
The United States leads the world in reducing emissions, largely thanks to abundant domestic natural gas and advancing technologies. Natural gas has become the leading fuel for generating electricity in this country, and largely as a result, CO2 emissions have declined. Since 2005, EIA says that shifts to natural gas for power generation have accounted for more emissions reduction than renewables:
It’s a solution that’s exportable, to our friends and allies through growing U.S. capacity to send liquefied natural gas (LNG) abroad. Of course, record domestic natural gas production that has created the abundance that supports LNG exports, stems from safe, modern development of America’s vast shale energy resources.
American consumers have benefited as well, thanks to technologically advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well development. The chart below compares what Americans actually spent on energy to projected energy expenditures with and without Waxman-Markey:
Which is a big reason American household spending for energy (including transportation) since 2007 has fallen, while expenditures for food, education and healthcare have risen:
The point is fairly straightforward: Abundant U.S. natural gas and oil production have boosted our economy, strengthened American energy leadership around the world and helped Americans manage their household budgets – all while helping to lead progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s compelling evidence for policies that increase access to reserves for safe development and smart regulation that advances safety together with efficient energy production. All will support continued development of natural gas, the emissions solution right under our feet.
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.