Leading Through the 2020 Pandemic, Powering the 2021 Recovery
Posted December 30, 2020
What a year. Thinking of those who lost their lives or were seriously ill and the continuing hardships from the pandemic, such as lost jobs and financial setbacks, 2020 can’t end soon enough.
Like other industries, ours faced steep challenges as it played an important role in helping the country battle the virus and supported economic recovery. There was added meaning to the word “resilience,” and our country is better off because our industry proved its staying power.
Think of it this way: Imagine the country in the middle of a global pandemic, trying to regain its footing, but without sufficient domestic natural gas and oil – or a modern, technologically advanced industry to develop that energy for consumers, businesses and manufacturers.
In fact, that would have been the U.S. a mere decade and a half ago, before the shale energy revolution. The point, as API President and CEO Mike Sommers recently wrote, is that America is ready for recovery based in large part on the core strength and resilience of the natural gas and oil industry:
“Today, America’s natural gas and oil industry supports more than 10 million U.S. jobs and supports nearly 8% of the nation’s economy, positioning the sector to drive our economic recovery and accelerate much-needed growth. With ongoing development, we can further reduce our dependence on foreign oil by producing the low-cost fuels that will redefine our energy future.”
Indeed, as API Chief Economist Dean Foreman recently pointed out, despite the challenging year, record productivity (read: increased efficiency) meant that abundant natural gas and oil translated into affordable energy for U.S. households and businesses, displacing foreign energy imports while supporting increased exports. As a result, the U.S. remained on track to be a net exporter of petroleum and total energy on an annual basis for the first time in more than 60 years, Foreman wrote.
This sets the stage for the new year – and a new administration and Congress, whose chief objective should be enacting policies that lock in gains made possible by U.S. energy – economic recovery and growth, increased security, global leadership and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Specifically, the U.S. should ensure continued access to natural gas and oil reserves, onshore and offshore. A campaign trail proposal to halt new federal leasing would seriously harm energy production, hinder the economy, bring on job losses and increase America’s need for foreign oil. It also could impact the production of natural gas, the increased use of which has lowered U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector to their lowest levels in a generation.
Similarly, sound policy will add to the U.S. energy infrastructure system, to allow wider distribution of natural gas and oil to processing and refining facilities, as well as finished products to consumers, manufacturing and businesses. The country’s infrastructure needs must be supported by maintaining recent improvements to key oversight features, including the Nationwide Permit 12 program and the National Environmental Policy Act.
These policy positions and others are essential to sustaining and growing the domestic energy revolution, which has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil while increasing our nation’s security and overall global leadership. Again, building on these gains should be the policy aim Washington policymakers.
The difficult year just passed has severely tested every part of American society, yet the country has been resilient and fundamentally strong. As has its natural gas and oil industry. This is the basis for believing 2021 and beyond will be better, and our industry is ready to do its part. Amanda Eversole, API executive vice president and chief operating officer:
“Looking ahead, we are approaching the new year with cautious optimism, drawing inspiration from the entrepreneurs and small business owners that round out our supply chain and keep our industry moving forward. While economic progress is a key indicator of our industry’s success, so is the diversity and resilience of our workforce and supply chain.”
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.