MSC Earth Day Column: Natural Gas Enhances Our Environment

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While Earth Day is recognized once a year, we all have an obligation to ensure that we’re taking daily steps aimed at protecting and enhancing our environment. After all, as the saying goes, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Earth Day provides an important opportunity to take stock in the meaningful environmental progress that our nation and the commonwealth continue to make – especially as it relates air quality.

Thanks to America’s abundant natural gas supplies, the United States has cut its carbon emissions more than any other developed nation in the world. And thanks largely to expanded natural gas production and use, U.S. CO2 emissions are at a 25-year low.

Even President Obama recognizes the benefits of natural gas development. “We should strengthen our position as the [world’s] top natural gas producer,” President Obama has said, “because it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”

Indeed our nation’s top environmental regulator, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, has made it clear that “natural gas is an important part of our work to curb climate change.”

Natural gas is a critical partner for enabling the steady and incremental growth of intermittent energy forms like wind and solar that requires reliable base load power as a back-up.

In fact, a recent Harvard Business School study described shale and renewables as “complementary” given that “natural gas is the only fuel that can cost-effectively deliver large-scale carbon emissions reductions over the next 20 years.”

What’s more, in addition to improving our environment, we are safely producing more natural gas domestically in order to meet our growing energy demands, which is also making America more energy secure.

There is little doubt that the U.S. has some of the world’s most rigorous environmental regulations. States like Pennsylvania are leading the way – with support from the energy industry – to make certain there are common sense, workable regulations in place to protect and enhance our environment.

By discouraging this domestic energy production we encourage energy imports from regions of the world that don’t have similar environmental safeguards. This leads not only to more global environmental impacts, but more reliance on other nations to meet America’s growing energy demands.

With clean-burning natural gas, we have a generational opportunity to ensure energy security. Best of all, however, with the development of natural gas our environment is improving on a daily basis.

This broadly shared success should be celebrated — not just on Earth Day, but every single day of the year.

David Spigelmyer is president of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition.