Let’s look at a few of the big ways rising domestic natural gas production is benefiting our country:
Power – According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas accounted for nearly one-third of U.S. electricity generation in 2016 – the first time natural gas was the leading fuel for power generation on an annual basis.
That power generation is critically important in the lives of virtually every American. Natural gas is abundant, affordable and reliable. It’s able to provide on-demand, “dispatchable” power, ramping up quickly in response to real-time changes in electricity demand. We and our modern lifestyles demand power generation that adapts with our changing needs. Natural gas checks the boxes.
Renewables – Because natural gas is flexible and fast-ramping, it is the essential partner for intermittent power sources, including wind and solar. Researcher Elena Verdolini:
“If you have an electric car, you don’t need a diesel car in your garage sitting there. But in the case of renewables, it’s different, because if you have renewable electricity and that fails, then you need the fast acting gas sitting in your garage, so to speak. … Our paper calls attention to the fact that renewables and fast-reacting fossil technologies appear as highly complementary and that they should be jointly installed to meet the goals of cutting emissions and ensuring a stable supply.”
Environment – Increasing use of natural gas is the main reason U.S. carbon emissions associated with power generation are at 25-year lows:
According to EIA, more than 65 percent of CO2 reductions in the electric power sector since 2005 have come from fuel switching to cleaner-burning natural gas. Natural gas use is also helping lower emissions of other pollutants as well. An ISO New England study found that as the fuel mix shifted toward natural gas, regional emissions dropped 91 percent for sulfur dioxide and 56 percent for nitrogen oxide (as well as 22 percent for carbon dioxide) between 2006 and 2015.
These are facts not lost on American voters. An election-night survey of actual voters found 77 percent support natural gas’ part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Exports – Not to be overlooked is the way domestic natural gas abundance is strengthening the U.S. in the global energy marketplace. Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Sabine Pass facility set a monthly record in January 2017, with additional U.S. exporting facilities coming online. Bringing overseas wealth into this country means economic growth and job creation. An ICF study projects LNG exports could contribute up to 452,000 jobs nationwide up to 2035, while adding $73.6 billion annually to GDP.
Put them together and American natural gas is the answer to a number of energy and climate questions. It’s generating the power we need for our homes and businesses, providing the building blocks for our manufacturing renaissance and making our nation and our allies more secure.