Middle class deserves affordable clean energy

Middle class deserves affordable clean energy
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The shift away from oil and coal is long overdue and paramount to building a future with clean energy. And while renewables like wind and solar are a vital part of this shift, we must also consider the needs of the 21st century American power grid and what we can do both to protect our environment and power our modern-day economy.

America needs a strategic mix of diverse fuel sources in order to reduce the financial burden on consumers while also protecting the environment and growing the economy. We all need heat and electricity for our homes and businesses. Natural gas is an integral part of that strategic mix.

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In order to protect our environment and fuel our economy, there is no better complement to renewable energy than natural gas. Natural gas dwarfs coal and oil in terms of safety of procurement. Underground natural gas pipelines have a smaller carbon footprint and a significantly better safety record than the transportation of coal and oil.

 

Moreover, in the last two decades, the increased usage of natural gas has correlated directly with improved local air quality and public health, due to natural gas’s reduced carbon emissions and greater efficiency. Times have changed for the better with the shift to cleaner fuels like natural gas.

As part of the global push to reduce carbon emissions, America is uniquely positioned to use natural gas to meet these goals. 

Our country holds the largest cache of natural gas in the world, with enough to meet our energy needs for about 90 years. Why forfeit this asset?

Since 2005, U.S. natural gas production has increased by 50 percent, and it now generates 32 percent of our electricity. According to the American Gas Association, 62 million homes and  5.4 million businesses rely on energy from natural gas.

And considering our reserves of natural gas, these numbers are set to rise — all because consumers sought to diversify their options, rather than remain a captive market to earlier energy sources. As such, natural gas is providing a significant boost to the American economy.

In 2016 alone, the manufacturing industry contributed $2.18 trillion to the US economy — working hand-in-hand with natural gas producers. Considering the steadily increasing employment of natural gas, we can expect more economic growth looking forward — that’s more than what can be expected from that which has been promised by the recent Trump tax cuts.

As a lifelong Democrat who served at the Democratic National Committee, worked on five presidential campaigns and spent more than two decades in the private sector, I support the Democratic push for cleaner energy. I worked with Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreSanders says he backs abolishing Electoral College Warren reintroduces bill mandating climate disclosures by companies Political world mourns death of Ross Perot MORE and his staff to make environmental awareness and protection not only a prominent social issue, but also a key economic one.

As far back as 1986, working for former Congressman Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyPressley responds to Pelosi dismissal of votes against border bill Democratic outrage grows over conditions at border detention centers Democratic lawmakers pay tense visit to Texas migrant facility MORE’s Citizen’s Energy, and trading on the natural gas spot market, I learned, first hand, the importance of our breaking into the marketplace to compete in order to provide alternative energy sources to middle class consumers at affordable prices.

In the name of Democratic free-enterprise, competition in the energy sector — be it coal, oil, solar or gas —will work to give us cleaner energy sources at lower costs. Committing to a strategic mix of energy sources will spare us extended debates, coupled with inaction, that result only in us squandering our resources rather than harnessing them in a manner that drives and energizes what is our true economic growth engine — the American middle class.

David L. Mercer is president of Mercer & Associates, Inc. and former deputy national finance director at the Democratic National Committee. Mercer previously served as a regional marketing representative for Citizens Energy Corporation, marketing and transporting fuel nationally.