Producing Energy, Reducing Emissions in New Mexico
Posted October 8, 2019
Take a look at a recent interview with API President and CEO Mike Sommers conducted by Albuquerque TV station KOB-4 – a conversation about the dual challenge of providing the energy Americans need every day to work, grow and prosper, while protecting the environment and lowering emissions. There’s no better setting for this discussion than in energy-rich New Mexico. Watch:
In the interview, Sommers alludes to New Mexico’s No. 3 ranking in oil production:
“This state is at the forefront of the American energy revolution. … It used to be that the capital of the energy system in the world was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Today, it’s in Carlsbad, New Mexico.”
Indeed, the prolific Permian Basin that covers New Mexico’s southeastern corner before spreading into neighboring Texas is a big reason why the United States continues to lead the world in natural gas and oil production. Sommers noted that in the past decade, U.S. oil production has grown from 5 million barrels per day to nearly 13 million barrels per day.
We’ve seen the benefits: increased energy self-sufficiency and energy security that support stronger U.S. global leadership. Consumers have benefited as well, with fuel pump prices last year that were nearly a dollar lower than they were in 2012 and other energy savings.
At the same time, U.S. energy has helped lead important progress on the environment and climate, which is integral to our industry’s compact with society – that we will use advanced technologies, innovations and join efforts like The Environmental Partnership to produce energy safely, with a smaller environmental footprint, while also playing a major role in lowering emissions.
We’re on it. In major producing areas production has soared while methane emissions relative to that production have plummeted. From 2011 to 2017, Permian energy production grew 100% while methane emissions relative to production – the methane emissions rate – fell by nearly 40% (calculated from EPA and U.S. Energy Information Administration data). In the Eagle Ford basin, production grew 130% over the same time period while the methane emissions rate fell by more than 65%.
Thanks to increased use of clean natural gas in power generation, U.S. energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, another important greenhouse gas, have fallen to their lowest levels in a generation. Sommers in Albuquerque:
“We’re driving [the rate of] emissions lower and lower every year. Truly, one of the most important environmental accomplishments in the last 25 years came [because] of the fracking and energy revolution that is occurring in this country. If it weren’t for that revolution, emissions would be higher today because there wouldn’t have been a fuel switch from coal to natural gas. Our industry has done more to help the environment than any of the renewable industries out there.”
Sommers told the interviewer that industry is committed long-term to New Mexico. That means tax revenues to support the state’s budget and other public priorities – from infrastructure to education. Recently, New Mexico’s governor announced a scholarship program that will make tuition free at public universities for all residents, regardless of income – largely funded by natural gas and oil development. There’s more to industry’s commitment. Sommers:
“When you think about the energy revolution that has occurred in this country in the last 10 years, and that we’ve consistently been able to drive emissions [rates] lower – it’s only going to go down over time. We understand the importance of the environment. We know that climate change is real. We also know that we’re part of the solution. … It’s in our interest to reduce those emissions. … The workers in this industry live here, they work here. They want to make sure the environment is not impacted by our operations. … We’re committed to being an environmentally safe partner with this great state.”
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.
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