CERAWeek: Sommers Talks Cooperation, Jobs and Energy Security
Posted March 2, 2021
The natural gas and oil industry is foundational to the U.S. economy and security today and will be for decades to come. That’s reality – and a welcome one, given U.S. world leadership in natural gas and oil production. Natural gas and oil frame the issues of energy and environmental progress – the priorities of safely producing the affordable reliable energy Americans use every day and boosting the economy, while also reducing emissions and our industry’s environmental footprint. We can do both, together.
API President and CEO Mike Sommers underscored these themes at this week’s CERAWeek energy conference – virtual this year because of the pandemic. Sommers’ key points:
- The natural gas and oil industry will work with the Biden administration as much as possible to achieve progress on climate goals – including technology and regulation.
- Natural gas and oil are fundamental to U.S. security and world leadership.
- Natural gas and oil is supporting U.S. and world growth, as well as the high-paying jobs of millions of Americans.
Cooperative relationship with the Biden administration
Sommers said API’s member companies “support the ambitions of the Paris agreement” and look forward to working with the Biden White House to address a changing climate and world:
“We’ve had a number of programs at API where we seek to address these issues, but I think we also need to keep in mind … what the current energy reality is. … API member companies are investing billions of dollars every single year with innovations like carbon capture utilization and storage technologies, and we … want to work with President Biden to make sure that these programs are fully funded.”
Industry is and will be key to U.S. climate progress through increased production of natural gas for power generation, by continuing to reduce methane emissions from production and through increasing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG). Sommers reiterated API’s support for the direct regulation of methane emissions from new and existing sources and pledged that industry’s technological muscle will be brought to bear to power individual Americans and the economy:
“We have to get the regulatory footprint right as well. API actually supports the direct federal regulation of methane, and that is an area where we want to work with this administration – particularly the new EPA administrator – to make sure we get that regulatory framework right. We want to build on the technologies that are out there right now, and we also want to make sure that the American people continue to have access to safe and affordable and reliable fuels, which is what this industry has provided for so many years.”
The essential role of natural gas and oil
Sommers noted the International Energy Agency projects that natural gas and oil will supply close to half the world’s energy in 2040 and 62% or more of the world transportation sector demand. As the world leader in natural gas and oil production, the U.S. is in a strong position for economic growth and can remain safe in the world because of access to energy.
“I think the important point … [is] about how much the world is going to continue to rely on oil and gas. … We need to make sure that we’re producing these products that the world needs and in the most sustainable way possible.”
We see this playing out even now, as the world comes out of last year’s economic downturn, largely the result of measures designed to control the pandemic. Sommers said U.S. oil demand, based on API’s February Monthly Statistical Report, returned to within 1.2% of its January 2020 levels. He added:
“We need to keep in mind that the world’s going to continue to demand these products, and the United States should want to continue to be an energy leader in producing these products. Of course, we have to invest in technologies to ensure that we’re producing them in the most environmentally responsible way, and we’re proud to say that API is leading the charge in that.”
Jobs, jobs, jobs
Efforts to manage the nation’s energy cannot simply step over the livelihoods and economic security of millions of American workers.
While the administration has talked about transitioning workers to new careers, Sommers pointed out that natural gas and oil industry careers are good ones, and they exist now – versus jobs and careers that are promised at some future point.
They’re jobs working men and women recognize as great opportunities for themselves and their families. Sommers said industry supports more than 10 million U.S. jobs, including those in the upstream segment that pay about twice as much as the average private sector job in the U.S. Sommers:
“We can’t forget the people who are actually working in this industry that like the jobs that they have and know that those jobs are going to pay better than a lot of the jobs that are currently being advertised [as replacement jobs]. … These are jobs that they want because the benefits are better, and I know that we have a number of allies in the building trades unions in particular who are very concerned about some of these promises and how those promises can’t be met by what they’re hearing right now about investing in renewable infrastructure. So, let’s be careful not to leave those 10 million-plus American workers behind as we discuss what this future is going to look like.”
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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