Oil and gas is a partner — not an adversary — in meeting our economic and environmental goals
While the majority of the news this week is focused on the Supreme Court, there are number of energy and environmental actions being undertaken in the legislative branch, including: consideration of the House energy package, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works legislative hearing on Chairman John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) “The Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020”, and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) introduction of a bill to codify much of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ’s) National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rulemaking.
These legislative actions are crucial because they recognize that that our nation needs affordable, reliable energy and modern infrastructure to rebuild our economy, grow our workforce, and lead the world’s transition to a lower carbon future.
There is an inextricable link between a healthy and robust economy and a reliable and affordable energy source. Real, lasting climate solutions are driven by innovation and technological breakthroughs that enhance our way of life and reduce emissions.
That’s the message that we plan to deliver this week, as men and women of the oil and gas industry will virtually meet with congressional offices from both parties — because energy is not a partisan issue.
Economically, the U.S. Shale industry is credited with driving 10 percent of U.S. GDP growth from 2010-2015 — a time that was vital to our ability to emerge from the housing crisis and last recession. We also provide good-paying American jobs – about 1 million direct upstream onshore jobs.
Each onshore rig supports 22+ direct jobs, each job at an average pay of $60,000. For each direct job, we estimate another three indirect jobs. And, oil and natural gas industry sector-projects are higher paying, provide better health and retirement benefits, have more long-term job growth opportunities, and are more stable careers than jobs in renewable energy, according to a national survey of union and nonunion workers by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU).
As Americans, we know the biggest driver of economic growth in our country is innovation and technology. And, much of the technological innovation required to deliver future economic growth will come from our industry, with its ability to deliver innovative solutions to both meet energy demand and reduce emissions.
We have already reduced emissions and made energy production and consumption cleaner and more efficient than ever before. From 2005-2017, total U.S. electricity generation increased by 4 percent while related CO2 emissions fell 27 percent. Approximately 61 percent of that reduction was from switching to natural gas.
Methane emissions from five of the largest producing oil and gas regions across the country have fallen nearly 70 percent — even as natural gas production in those regions tripled over the 2011-2018 period, demonstrating the industry’s commitment to finding and implementing innovative solutions to further protect our environment.
Onshore oil and gas producers exploring new technologies in aerial, satellite, and ground-based monitoring of methane emissions from production facilities. One example is Project Astra, a West-Texas based collaborative effort with AXPC members in the Permian, the Gas Technology Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, and the Environmental Defense Fund, which seeks to leaks as they happen with a network of methane-sensing monitors. Onshore companies are deploying mobile sensors at their production facilities to feed emissions data into a network designed to optimize leak detection for their facilities.
But, despite this progress and our fervent commitment to our economy and our environment, the rhetoric about our industry is troubling. From the misguided campaign platforms that restrict oil and gas drilling on federal lands to a commitment to “ending fossil fuels” –– the implication that environmentalism and oil and gas production are at odds could not be further from the truth.
Facts matter more than rhetoric and we must have a real conversation about the facts and the solutions our industry offers to our nation’s economic, environmental, and national security concerns.
Restricting oil and gas production in the U.S. will significantly drive up energy costs, forcing manufacturers and small businesses to close –– further hurting jobs and our economy.
The federal government collects $12 billion from oil and gas activities on non-park, non-wilderness public lands, including $4.8 billion of which was generated from onshore activities. A significant amount of that revenue is disbursed to state governments to help support local communities. The two states that benefitted the most from this are New Mexico and Wyoming, which received $1.2 billion and $641 million, respectively in FY 2019.
Our industry has been instrumental in solving challenges in the past. We know how to collaborate with other industries — as well as with government officials and nonprofits — to deliver innovative technologies that meet legislative and policy goals to grow jobs and reduce emissions.
We are here to not just deliver a message but become real partners in the American economy and cleaner energy future.
Anne Bradbury is CEO of the American Exploration and Production Council, a national trade association representing the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in the United States.
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