Column: U.S leads world in cutting carbon emissions
When it comes to energy, the United States has achieved an unprecedented accomplishment, not just in energy produced here at home but also in environmental progress.
The U.S. currently leads the world in natural gas and oil production, while simultaneously serving as the global leader in cutting energy-related carbon emissions.
This is remarkable because it demonstrates how market forces and technological innovations have helped produce more energy and a cleaner environment. Continued leadership by the U.S. natural gas and oil industry will only help us make further improvements.
This month, the industry launched a new initiative that will continue that trend by accelerating reductions in emissions of methane, the second most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and reductions in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
The Environmental Partnership is a voluntary, industry-led program that includes 26 companies of all sizes across the nation. These natural gas and oil producers have agreed to take action, learn and collaborate with one another in order to markedly improve their environmental performance.
At its outset this month, the Environmental Partnership developed three performance programs the companies will implement.
The companies will use advanced monitoring technologies to find and repair leaking equipment, replace or modify higher-emitting equipment and implement best practices to further reduce their methane emissions.
The participants will implement at least one of the performance programs, with the vast majority implementing all three. The companies have also agreed to track their progress and report annually, allowing the program to demonstrate its results to the public.
Importantly, the Environmental Partnership will serve as a collaborative platform in which companies of all sizes can partner and learn collectively on technology deployment and operational adjustments to further improve their environmental performance.
It is this type of leadership that has helped make the United States the gold standard for environmental and energy efficient performance in the energy sector.
Since 1990, the U.S. natural gas and oil industry has invested more than $300 billion to improve its facilities, products and operations from an environmental standpoint, and these investments have led to real results.
The air we breathe is the cleanest in the modern era, and we’re doing our part to build on this success, with the EPA reporting that total emissions of six criteria air pollutants have declined 73 percent since 1970 in the United States.
Technological advancements have made it possible to safely reach new sources of natural gas, making energy more affordable and allowing us to use it more cleanly.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas accounted for nearly one-third of all U.S. electricity generation last year. This is the first time in history that natural gas is the leading source for power generation on an annual basis.
One benefit of the increased use of natural gas is that it emits half the carbon dioxide emissions as compared to coal when used to generate electricity.
So thanks to the growth in natural gas usage, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from power generation have fallen by 25 percent since 2005, helping to bring America’s total greenhouse gas emissions to near 25-year lows.
While there is more work to be done, this is good news for the health of our environment and the health of our economy.
More affordable clean energy means lower bills for American households and American companies, and the natural gas and oil industry is determined to make even greater progress.
Through the Environmental Partnership, our industry will continue to lead as we responsibly develop the essential natural gas and oil resources necessary to meet our nation’s energy demands.
Matthew Todd is program director of the Environment Partnership.