MSC in Butler Eagle: Pa. power already hits Paris targets

Clean, local natural gas is the fundamental driver behind reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change — a critical fact often missing from the ongoing climate debate.

As the nation’s second largest natural gas producing state, Pennsylvania is at the forefront of leveraging this clean fuel source to enhance air quality and stimulate enormous economic growth.

The United States is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer and the global leader in reducing carbon emissions, according to the EPA. These are not isolated achievements. Expanded production of our energy resources has allowed clean-burning natural gas to meet an increasingly larger share of the nation’s electricity demand while improving air quality in the process.

Since 2005, U.S. natural gas production has increased 68 percent, while carbon emissions tied to the power sector have fallen 28 percent, according to federal government data.

In Pennsylvania, the responsible development of the Marcellus and Utica shale resources is opening environmental doors that were unimaginable a decade ago. More than a dozen natural gas power plants are planned, under construction or have recently online in the state, representing $12.6 billion in new investment.

With this expansion of clean natural gas in power generation, emissions of six key pollutants, harmful to the environment and public health, have dropped 73 percent from 1990 to 2017, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Methane emissions have also continued their downward trend in 2017, while natural gas production increased to meet rising energy demand.

These statistics prove that we can leverage America’s abundant natural gas resources to achieve environmental gains. In fact, researchers from Carnegie Mellon concluded earlier this year that with expanded natural gas use, the United States power sector has already achieved Clean Power Plan 2025 emission goals and Pennsylvania’s power sector has hit the Paris agreement targets, as well.

Politically motivated narratives that paint a biased picture hinder our ability to accurately identify and pursue viable solutions to meet our energy and environmental goals. Removing politics from the equation will allow us to collaborate on real progress.

The environment has benefited from greater production and use of natural gas. What’s more, hardworking families throughout Pennsylvania are realizing average household natural gas and utility savings of $1,100 to $2,200 annually, according to our analysis of state data.

What’s more, job-creating natural gas has brought our local building trades to full employment. Our future is bright to make products once again here in the USA as our home-grown natural gas supply is “the” fuel used to produce nearly everything we touch in our lives today.

From Erie to Philadelphia, Pennsylvanians want the same things: good-paying jobs, a steady or growing economy, a healthy environment and above all, opportunity for future generations. This is exactly what natural gas delivers.

Neither a transport nor a bridge fuel, natural gas is a destination fuel that has a vital part to play in how we continue to power our modern world.

Our industry, born on the back of private investment and entrepreneurial spirit, is constantly investing, innovating and creating new partnerships to meet rising energy demand. Similarly, through the development of market-driven energy solutions, it will continue to lead the charge in achieving meaningful climate progress.

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

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