U.S. Natural Gas = Consumer Savings, Clean Air Progress, Energy Security

Thanks to the expanded use of local, clean natural gas in power generation, the United States “has already come quite far in reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” according to a new Carnegie Mellon University report. Analyzing government data, CMU researchers concluded that the U.S. “can meet – or even beat” carbon dioxide emissions reductions outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, even though the federal Clean Power Plan is not in effect.

Driven by market forces, the growth of domestic natural gas in power generation has allowed the U.S. to already reach the planned 2025 target under the Clean Power Plan, the authors conclude.

Pennsylvania, as the nation’s second largest natural gas producing state, is at the tip of the spear of this important environmental progress. More than a dozen natural gas power plants have been announced, are under construction or were brought online recently in the Commonwealth, able to power 16.5 million homes with clean, domestic energy. Collectively, they represent $9.8 billion of new investment in Pennsylvania, supporting 5,000 good-paying local jobs.

Carnegie Mellon’s latest research comes on the heels of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report concluding that natural gas is the No. 1 producer of U.S. electricity. As a result, power sector emissions have reached their lowest level since 1990.

Hard-working families are directly benefitting. According to the Bloomberg analysis, “consumers devoted a smaller share of their spending towards electricity than at any time ever recorded” as a result of “natural gas becoming increasingly affordable.”

In addition, continued growth of domestic oil and gas production is becoming a “key instrument of American foreign policy,” a Wall Street Journal columnist writes this week.

As Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary Brouillette said during a recent conference, America is “poised to become a net energy exporter within the next decade. This spells not just energy independence for America, but this spells energy dominance. Complete energy security.

Here’s what they’re saying about the consumer savings, clean air progress and energy security we’re realizing with abundant, domestic natural gas.

  • Surprise: CMU finds US has already met some CO2 emissions standards: A CMU team looking at carbon dioxide emissions has found something surprising: The United States has already met some of the Obama administration’s targets for reducing emissions … While the CPP isn’t in effect any longer, the CMU researchers found it didn’t matter: The U.S. reached the 2020 goal for CO2 emissions already from power plants. The reason: A shale-revolution ignited drop in natural gas prices has made it cheaper to produce electricity, and there’s been a sharp rise in renewables in some states. “It’s primarily due to natural gas prices and market forces,” said Paul Fischbeck, CMU professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy who co-wrote the analysis. … “This is happening around the country, with the price of natural gas so low because of fracking, it’s hard for other electrical power sources (and) technologies to be competitive,” Fischbeck said. Why is this a surprise? Because even seven or eight years ago, this wouldn’t have been expected given the track of power generation. David Rode, a Ph.D. graduate from CMU and another co-author, said it’s an example of the role market forces can play on achieving policy objectives. (Business Times, 2/20/18)
  • U.S. Energy Production Delivers “Complete Energy Security”: The US is forging ahead with a plan to boost oil and gas exports as part of a push by President Donald Trump’s administration for “energy dominance”, a top government official said. The country’s exports have been propelled by a boom in oil and natural gas production linked to the technological revolution that unlocked vast energy reserves from shale rocks in recent years. US deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette said in an interview on Tuesday: “We are going to seek every export opportunity that we could possibly have for American businesses.” The US is set to become the world’s biggest oil producer this year — with output well above 10m barrels a day — as the country surpasses Saudi Arabia and overtakes Russia, global energy agencies have said. … Companies selling US natural gas have also been keen to access foreign markets for their supplies. Shipments of this gas supercooled into a liquid, known as LNG, are expected to dominate the US export flows. US government data showed LNG exports averaged close to 2bn cubic feet a day last year.. … In a speech at the International Petroleum Week conference on Tuesday, Mr Brouillette said: “We are poised to become a net energy exporter within the next decade.” “This spells not just energy independence for America, but this spells energy dominance. Complete energy security,” he added, saying the US seeks to rely less on unstable and often hostile producer countries. (Financial Times, 2/20/18)
  • U.S. Energy a “Key Instrument of American Foreign Policy”: When many Europeans—and more than a few Americans—hear the word “fracking,” for example, they don’t think of the spear tip of an American energy offensive that limits Russia’s geopolitical ambitions while creating the conditions for renewed European prosperity. … The vast American oil and gas resources being unlocked by unconventional (and rapidly improving) techniques like fracking are more than a domestic economic bonanza. They are a key instrument of American foreign policy. … Fracking frustrates Vladimir Putin more than sanctions, and much more than harsh rhetoric at the United Nations. When the price of oil is $150 a barrel and every country in Europe is desperate for energy, Russia casts a long shadow over the EU. When oil is at $60 a barrel and supplies are plentiful, Russian leverage is dramatically diminished. But there is another way in which fracking helps the EU. The EU is a net importer and consumer of energy; high oil and gas prices dampen European growth. (Wall Street Journal column, 2/19/18)
  • How Pennsylvania is welcoming the American energy Renaissance: For decades, American energy producers have sought the deep pockets of natural gas, such as the Marcellus Shale deposit in the north east United States. But it wasn’t until the past decade or so that we’ve really had the technology to safely and efficiently tap into these crucial energy deposits. [Energy development] has brought solid, high paying jobs to parts of Pennsylvania in dire need of economic rejuvenation. The average pay for someone employed in fracking is $20,000 higher than the state average salary – energy workers making roughly $62,000 a year. The boom has brought over $4 billion in economic investment into the state, providing tens of thousands of jobs. Two years in (and what seems ages ago in terms of technological development) the Pennsylvania fracking program was given high marks by the State Review of Oil and natural Gas Environmental Regulations. Pennsylvania has been an energy revolution success story and if the fracking play here were fully developed, industry estimates say it would provide over 200,000 jobs to the state. There is no reason to limit this success story to Pennsylvania alone. (The Hill column, 2/13/18)