Natural Gas Should Have Starring Role in ‘Paris to Pittsburgh’ Documentary

Those who tuned in to the “Paris to Pittsburgh” documentary didn’t get to learn about the critical role clean, Pennsylvania-produced natural gas plays in strengthening our air. Strange, isn’t it, that the single largest fuel driving global climate progress wasn’t mentioned in this so-called documentary?

The economic, environmental, and national security progress being made with natural gas is a success story that should absolutely be celebrated. Yet some, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, refuse to acknowledge that the clean, American natural gas produced across Pennsylvania is delivering meaningful climate progress.

This year, Carnegie Mellon University researchers concluded that natural gas has put the U.S. on track to not just achieve Paris Agreement emission-reduction goals – but to do so ahead of schedule. Here’s what one CMU researcher said:

“The U.S. has already come quite far in reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” said Jeffery Anderson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. “The biggest driver of lower carbon dioxide emissions has been declining natural gas prices, which has allowed the industry to replace coal-fired power plants economically with cleaner natural gas power plants—and without a costly regulatory mandate.”

Added another CMU researcher on the team: “The U.S. power sector could meet the Paris Agreement goals even without the Clean Power Plan, and that the path to compliance can be a collection of politically feasible, minimally invasive actions.”

With greater production and use of natural gas, the U.S. has become a global greenhouse gas reduction leader. Here are some important facts on the significant environmental progress we’re making thanks to clean natural gas:

  • The U.S. continued to lead the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to recently released EPA data.
  • CO2 emissions from the power sector have declined 28% since 2005, according to Energy Information Administration data released in October, while U.S. energy-related carbon emissions hit a 25-year low last year.
  • Asthma-causing air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have fallen 82% and 72% in Pennsylvania, according to the latest Department of Environmental Protection data.
  • Methane emissions continued to fall in 2017 as natural gas production increased, according to EPA data.

Natural gas also serves a vital role as the primary backstop of baseload power for highly intermittent solar and wind energy sources. In fact, natural gas and renewable energy work hand-in-glove, as gas-fired power plants can ramp up in a matter of minutes to meet demand. Our nation cannot rely on strictly one energy source – strength, reliability, and flexibility lies securely in a diverse energy mix, and, as MSC president David Spigelmyer pointed out, “there is no better partner for renewables than natural gas.”

And don’t forget the family-sustaining jobs that natural gas supports in the Commonwealth, a point Mayor Peduto tries to obscure with his false claim that “there are now more jobs in renewable energy in the state of Pennsylvania than coal, natural gas, and oil combined.”

The most “Clean Jobs Pennsylvania” report from environmental advocate E2 lists just 8,714 jobs in renewable energy, a decrease from the previous year. For comparison, a PwC analysis released last year shows 300,000 good-paying, Pennsylvania jobs supported throughout the oil and gas industry and it’s deep, small business supply chain.

It’s unfortunate some environmental activists and politicians ignore sound science, data and the progress we’re making with natural gas. Thankfully, though, there are tens-of-thousands of Pennsylvanians, including many building trade union members, at work every day to deliver the clean, abundant natural gas that’s making this clean air progress happen.

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