In a Tuesday morning headline, Bloomberg News asked the question: “Can the U.S. Become an Energy Superpower in 2017?”
Well, it already is, thanks to American shale development. Now families, manufacturers, our environment, and national security are stronger because of the United States’ position as a global energy leader.
Much of the credit for this milestone in America’s resurgence as a global energy powerhouse goes to the mighty Marcellus. As Bloomberg reports, we’re “pulling 18 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the Marcellus shale formation in the eastern U.S., more than any other domestic shale deposit.”
That record- production continues to translate into local, national and international benefits. In fact, “the U.S. has become a net exporter of natural gas,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “further evidence of the how the domestic oil and gas boom is reshaping the global energy business.” That shift, driven by the shale revolution, benefits our allies overseas and strengthens America’s national security, as the “abundance of natural gas from domestic shale basins [helps] break the Russian grip on the European economy,” according to a UPI report.
But what about consumers, manufacturers, and our environment at home? For one, thanks to the shale revolution, the United States has made “real progress on reducing carbon in the atmosphere,” the environmental think tank Breakthrough Institute recently stated. In fact, as reported by the New York Times, the organization argues that America should “stay out of the way of the shale energy revolution” to continue to realize natural gas’ environmental benefits.
For manufacturers, the Beaver County ethane cracker facility that will process locally produced natural gas liquids into the building blocks for plastics is a “once in a lifetime opportunity that has already begun to breathe new life into Beaver County,” a Western Pa. real estate agent told the Business Times. “Area businesses [are] looking to get in on the ground floor of an economic upswing,” the Post-Gazette reports, adding that officials believe Shell’s investment in this world-class facility will “inspire other chemical manufacturing companies to move here or expand.”
The vital link, however, in realizing these clean-air, manufacturing, and consumer benefits is a renewed focus on infrastructure. It’s why Pa. PUC Commissioner Robert Powelson told the Post-Gazette that we need to “double down on energy infrastructure.” It’s why the Charleston Gazette-Mail editorial board was absolutely right this week when they wrote: “[For] Americans to continue to live a comfortable life and afford to travel, heat their homes and have jobs, they need additional infrastructure like pipelines and highways and the fuel to allow that to happen.”
What’s clear is that it’s mission critical and a “plus for Pennsylvania,” as IUOE Local 66 Jim Kunz wrote in a Tribune-Review letter, to continue the safe modernization and expansion of our natural gas infrastructure network and end-uses.
With a historic election in the books, and as federal and state lawmakers prepare for a new session, there is no more critical time for elected officials at all levels to focus on commonsense policies that encourage greater production and use of our abundant natural gas resources.