What They’re Saying: Shale the “Strongest Card in America’s Hand”

As the global climate talks kick off in Paris, the clear environmental benefits of natural gas are making headlines. Thanks to shale gas, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced more than any other country and power sector CO2 emissions have plummeted to 27-year lows. Beyond this historic environmental progress, shale is enhancing American energy security and slashing our nation’s dependence on unstable regions of the world.

And with a majority of Pennsylvanians relying on natural gas as their primary heating source – and Marcellus reserves reaching record levels – consumers, families, small business and manufacturers continue to benefits from more affordable energy costs.

Here’s what they’re saying about America’s shale revolution:

CLEAN-BURNING DOMESTIC POWER SOURCE

  • Natural Gas: The “Strongest Card in America’s Hand”: According to the U.S. EIA, monthly power sector carbon dioxide emissions reached a 27-year low in April 2015. … According to data from the EPA, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped 9% between 2005 and 2013the largest reduction from any country. … A Manhattan Institute study concluded that the increase in clean natural gas production is the greatest contributor toward declining U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, carbon emissions in America are down to where they were a quarter century ago, though our population has been growing. …  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has recognized the important contributions of American natural gas to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, saying hydraulic fracturing has “been enormously beneficial from a clean air perspective, as well as from a climate perspective.” (Reuters column, 11/28/15)
  • “Climate Talks Should Focus on Natural Gas”: Between 2005 and 2013, EPA reports that greenhouse gas emissions fell by 9%, even while the nation’s population and economic output increased. … In April, carbon dioxide emissions reached a 27-year low in the U.S., according to EIA. The primary factor in the rollback of emissions is the natural gas boom made possible by fracking. … The most positive aspect of the switch to natural gas is that it is market driven. Unlike windmills and solar panels, gas-powered plants can deliver base-load supplies of electricity at a cost customers can afford. … An independent study released in June by experts from the Harvard Business School concluded that the vast natural gas reserves available through fracking could support 3.8 million jobs by 2030 while meeting the greenhouse gas targets desired by the Paris conference. (Detroit News editorial, 12/1/15)
  • “American energy can help defeat terrorism”: One of our most effective economic swords to use against ISIS — and Iran, Putin’s Russia, and OPEC — is America’s vast shale oil and gas reserves … Every barrel of oil we produce here at home is one less barrel we have to purchase from abroad. … Why then do we continue to buy oil from those who are trying to kill us? That’s especially crazy given that we now have the capacity to achieve real energy independence within five years by pursuing a pro-America energy development strategy. Our own EIA reports that we have access to more recoverable fossil fuel resources than any nation in the world thanks to the new and ever-improving smart drilling technologies. … If we don’t produce our vast domestic fossil fuel energy, the world will buy oil and natural gas from somewhere else — and the terrorist networks will grow richer and more militant. … Instead of going to Paris to talk about the weather, Mr. Obama should be devising an urgent strategy to defund the terrorists and help rebuild the U.S. economy by making America the energy-dominant nation on the planet. (Washington Times column, 11/29/15)
  • CO2 Emissions Drop In 47 States Due To Natural Gas: Hydraulic fracturing, not government green policies, is causing carbon dioxide emissions to drop sharply in 47 states and Washington, D.C. according to both Scientific American and EIA. The total decline in carbon dioxide emissions is particularly evident in the energy sector. … As a result, the S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country. Even the Sierra Club acknowledges this, though it refuses to attribute the decline in emissions to natural gas and fracking. … Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 1,022 million tons, making them significantly lower than their peak in 2007. (Daily Caller, 11/25/15)

PA’S HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY

  • The Rise of the Marcellus: In 2010, the U.S. EIA released a report ranking the top 100 natural gas fields in the country. … Fast forward five years. EIA today lists the Marcellus shale area as the number one gas producing region in the country. Almost as notable is the Marcellus’s listed discovery year: 2008. The rise of the Marcellus has dramatically altered the natural gas landscape of the U.S., unleashing a wave of new supply onto the market. (Star-Tribune, 11/29/15)
  • Shale has “Profound” Impact on Pa.: Pa. Agriculture Department Executive Deputy Secretary Michael Smith called the state’s shale gas industry a major game-changer. “Shale gas is bringing a transformative change to Pa.,” a department spokesperson said. Indicating the industry’s intense effects on the commonwealth’s economy and environment, Smith cited ’s meteoric rise in gas production rank. Formerly 12th in the nation just seven years ago, it now ranks third, behind only Texas and Louisiana, and has increased 1,200% since 2008. Moreover, approximately 38% of the state’s electricity is now supplied by natural gas — up from a mere 3% in 2008. … Some farmers have opted to receive lease and royalty arrangements on mineral rights, which in turn will help them stay in business, while others have chosen to opt out of farming. (Pa. Business Daily, 11/26/15)
  • “Pa. Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands”: Gov. Wolf’s reinstatement this year of a ban on new leases for oil and gas drilling beneath state parks and forests does not extend to land owned by the Pa. Game Commission, whose lease revenue has increased nearly fivefold in four years. The commission’s revenue from such leases increased from $4.7 million in fiscal year 2011 to $22.1 million, or 20% of its $100.5 million budget. The money helps support operations and training of new staff at the agency. … The operations benefit hunters with upgraded access roads, said Seneca spokesman Rob Boulware. The company and the MSC have worked with hunters to make sure there are no safety issues. … Drilling has increased greatly over the past decade with shale exploration, but industry activity on state land and the Allegheny National Forest dates back more than a century. … About 89,000 of the commission’s 1.5 million acres are under lease, Michael DiMatteo, [chief of environmental planning division] said. … Royalties that the commission collects go to the game fund to pay for salaries, maintenance of game lands and habitat improvements, DiMatteo said. (Tribune-Review, 11/29/15)

LOW WINTER PRICES A “BOON” TO RATEPAYERS

  • UGI Consumer Bills Lowest in 15+ Years: Natural gas prices for residential customers will drop another 6.7% on Tuesday. This latest decline — the third this year — will cut the average bill for the residential heating customer from $75.84 per month to $70.76. That will be the lowest point in at least 15 years. Measured another way, the new price will be 3% below the record high price of $151.47 a month, set in 2008. The recent slide in retail prices is due to wholesale prices continuing to retreat, thanks to abundant natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region. More than 90% of UGI’s natural gas supply comes from the Marcellus. … “Our customers are benefiting from this locally produced, plentiful and lower cost supply,” said Paul Szykman, UGI’s VP of rates … Utilities are required to pass the cost of the natural gas they purchase directly through to customers without any markup. (Lancaster Online, 11/27/15)
  • Consumers See Lower Utility Rates: Starting Dec. 1, purchased gas cost rates for UGI will decrease, and as a result, so will customers’ bills. … The average residential heating customer’s bill should drop by 11.4%. … Combined with previous gas cost decreases announced in March and June, residential customers will pay about $21 less per month than they did last winter. “More than 90% of UGI’s natural gas supplies now come from Marcellus. Our customers are benefitting from this locally produced, plentiful, and lower cost supply,” [said] UGI’s Paul Szykman. … “This is the seventh year of a trend of moderating prices. Customer bills are about half of what they were at their peak, when the average monthly bill topped $150.” (Citizens Voice, 11/26/15)
  • Marcellus a “Boon to Rate-Payers Pocketbooks”: Gas production in the Marcellus Shale lands in Pa. and nearby states coupled with mild weather through most of 2015 has meant for low natural gas prices in Western Massachusetts despite a lack of pipeline capacity to bring that gas here. … “So definitely the customers see the effect of that,” [Dan Howard, GM at Westfield Gas & Electric] said. “It would be better if the transportation system from the Marcellus was better. But that is what they are trying to do with some of the pipelines.” … Howard said the price of natural gas for Westfield Gas & Electric customers hasn’t been this low in at least 15 years. The average savings for an average user is $6.85 a month. … Columbia Gas of Massachusetts has told its customer that the average residential heating customer will be approximately 25% lower heading into this winter. Berkshire Gas is predicting that costs for this heating season could be approximately 10% lower than last winter. (The Republican, 11/28/15)

Learn more about shale’s game-changing manufacturingenvironmental and consumer benefits on the MSC’s blog. And be sure to follow the MSC on Facebook and Twitter.