Energy for a Cleaner Environment

Energy is fundamental to the lives we live – free, safe and healthy, with broad opportunity – and the U.S. oil and natural gas industry reliably provides the energy we need each day to heat our homes, fuel our cars, bring food and goods to market, and cook our meals. Because of today’s oil and natural gas industry, delivering the energy that powers modern living means doing so with lower environmental impact and improved products and operations. In all of these, industry is leading the way.

Global CO2 emissions plateaued in 2019, with the United States seeing the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions. This positive development was largely driven by a switch to natural gas, according to a February report from the International Energy Agency. The report also indicates the vast opportunities that still exist for natural gas to drive emissions reductions around the world.

The IEA report strongly demonstrates the large and positive impact that natural gas can have in reducing emissions, even above and beyond other energy sources like renewables. Between 2005 and 2018, a shift to natural gas for electricity generation reduced emissions 57 percent more than the emissions reductions realized through renewables.

According to Energy In Depth, “The results of the latest IEA report should help create a positive roadmap for a future with fewer global emissions. At a time when the economy was growing by 2.9 percent—which should result in more energy use—advanced industrial nations were able to reduce their emissions output thanks largely to a switch to natural gas. Developing nations can continue this trend—maintaining economic growth while creating less environmental impact—by taking advantage of the supply and low cost of natural gas.”

Cleaner operations, facilities and products all are part of the oil and natural gas industry’s commitment to improving our environmental performance and safeguarding our climate while producing the energy required by a modern economy. Developing oil and natural gas is an industrial process, yet its impacts can be managed using advanced technologies to protect the environment, our workers and the communities that host our operations.

Commitment to Innovation
Oil and natural gas companies are investing heavily in new technology that will continue to make a difference in reducing air emissions and protecting the environment. In fact, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry is the leading investor in zero- and low-carbon technology, investing $108.2 billion in greenhouse gas mitigating technologies between 2000-2016. That’s more than double the investments by any other private sector industry.

Affordable and Reliable Energy
Increased domestic production of natural gas has helped bring necessary energy spending for the average U.S. household down by more than 10% in the last decade.

99% Fewer Vehicle Emissions
U.S. refiners are producing cleaner gasoline and diesel fuels which, coupled with advanced vehicle technologies, means today’s new cars, SUVs and pickup trucks are about 99 percent cleaner for common pollutants than vehicles in 1970. Cleaner fuels played a significant role in a 73 percent reduction of the six Clean Air Act Criteria Air Pollutants between 1970 and 2017 – even as vehicle miles traveled increased 189 percent.

Cleanest Air in More than a Generation
The increased use of clean natural gas in generating the nation’s electricity – in many cases replacing coal-fired generation – is one of the leading reasons the air Americans breathe is cleaner today than it has been since the 1990’s.

Methane Emissions by Natural Gas Systems Down 14%
Technologies – including more advanced leak detection equipment and innovative capture techniques – helped decrease methane emissions from natural gas systems 14 percent since 1990 while natural gas production increased more than 50 percent. Industry is highly motivated to use a variety of technologies to capture more and more methane during production that can be delivered to consumers as natural gas. Increased use of natural gas to fuel power generation is the No. 1 reason U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide have fallen to the lowest levels in a generation.

Fueling a Safer, Cleaner World
Expanded use of U.S. natural gas is improving air quality elsewhere. As China transitioned more of its power generation to natural gas imported from places like the United States, the country benefitted from a 33 percent decrease in particulate matter pollution in the fourth quarter of 2017 from a year earlier across Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities, according to a report by Greenpeace East Asia. PM2.5 levels in Beijing alone dropped 54 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the report.

The U.S. natural gas and oil industry is committed to the quality lifestyle reliable energy provides along with a clean, safe and healthy environment – and we are proving again and again that we don’t have to sacrifice economic growth to protect the environment. We can and will continue to do both.