Ninety-two years ago, Republicans gathered in Cleveland for the party’s convention, adopting a platform with planks centered on the economy, taxation, foreign relations, and, in one of the early mentions of energy policy, the safe development of America’s abundant natural resources.
“The natural resources of the country belong to all the people. … The government policy should be to safeguard, develop and utilize these possessions,” read the 1924 Republican Party platform.
Ever since, policies and objectives aimed at greater energy security have played pivotal roles in Republican and Democrat party platforms alike. And thanks to shale development, a century after Calvin Coolidge’s nomination, America has never been stronger from an energy perspective.
Led by the Appalachia region’s world-class natural gas resources, America is no longer reliant on foreign – and often hostile and unstable – nations to meet our growing energy needs. Through innovations in hydraulic fracturing – a tightly regulated and nearly 70-year-old technology – coupled with horizontal drilling advancements, we’re producing the energy needed to power a modern, 21st century economy right here at home.
That’s an achievement worth celebrating. And it’s one that’s uniquely American. This positive progress – economically and environmentally, as well as from a national security perspective – was enabled by the spirit, grit and risk-taking of entrepreneurs, highly trained engineers and geologists as well as our free market system which continues to be unmatched in its ability to create prosperity and upward mobility.
As Republicans gather in Cleveland – and Democrats soon head to Philadelphia – we must remember that domestic energy development means good-paying American jobs, national security, and a cleaner, healthier environment. And while there’s no quick fix or one size-fits-all to our nation’s energy challenges, our next president must encourage the safe development, transportation, and use of America’s abundant shale resources which have fundamentally transformed our energy outlook from scarcity and weakness to abundance and geopolitical strength for us and our allies.
In fact, thanks to shale development, America is now the world’s top oil and gas producer. What’s more, a recent Rystad Energy report makes clear that the U.S. has the world’s most recoverable oil reserves, surpassing both Saudi Arabia and Russia.
This once unthinkable shift in our domestic energy outlook is strengthening America’s position as a world leader, enabling the U.S. to supply close allies with reliable and affordable energy. The Marcus Hook Industrial Complex that sits along the banks of the Delaware River near Philadelphia, for example, is thriving once again as natural gas produced from Marcellus and Utica shale is shipped through the once idled facility to cities along the East Coast and globally to our European allies.
The Marcus Hook complex – and the thousands of good-paying middle-class jobs it supports – is just one of the countless examples of how shale is revitalizing America’s manufacturing base. Shell’s recent decision to build an ethane cracker facility in western Pennsylvania reflects this newfound competitive edge America now has in otherwise hypercompetitive global marketplace. That multibillion dollar facility, which will support 6,000 construction and 600 permanent jobs, will enable additional manufacturers to relocate or expand throughout our region, helping the area – once considered the belt buckle of the Rust Belt – renew itself for generations.
Consumers, too, are experiencing shale’s benefits as hard-working families throughout the country are realizing energy savings at home and at the pump. These benefits are – as the New York Times has reported – “particularly helpful to working-class families who spend a high proportion of their incomes on fuels.”
And thanks to shale, we no longer have to choose between strengthening our economy and improving the environment. Through the greater use of clean-burning natural gas, America has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other nation, according to federal data. And natural gas serves as a key partner with renewable resources, providing baseload, reliable power for highly intermittent – and costly – wind and solar.
Safe and responsible domestic energy development isn’t a Republican, Democrat or Independent issue. Commonsense policies that recognize our abundant energy resources as an asset – not a liability – can continue to help create hundreds of thousands of American jobs, greatly improve our environment, and strengthen our nation’s standing in the world.
It’s a policy that all Americans can – and must – support.
Spigelmyer is president of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, and Bennett is executive vice president of the Columbus-based Ohio Oil and Gas Association.
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