Ten years ago, as the nation was working its way out of the Great Recession, domestic natural gas underpinned our economic recovery by employing American workers with good paying jobs, many of which are across the building trades, reducing energy costs for households and businesses, and strengthening U.S. energy and national security.
Now, we enter a new era of domestic shale development parallel to the fundamentals that transformed America into a global energy production leader and net energy exporter at the turn of the last decade. Fundamentals that are grounded in innovation and cross-sector collaboration, with public and private sector entities investing in new technologies necessary to meet state, national, and global climate objectives.
Just as the Shale Revolution defined much of the 2010’s, the 2020’s are shaping up as the period where natural gas’ affordability and flexibility facilitates the growth of intermittent renewable energy sources, and works in tandem with all facets of the economy to maintain access to uninterrupted energy while actively reducing emissions in industries like energy, manufacturing, and transportation.
For one, Pennsylvanians today enjoy up to $2,200 per year in household energy savings due to wholesale natural gas prices dropping nearly 76% since 2008. These savings are a particular boost for low and fixed-income families, who disproportionally spend more on utility costs each month.
Moreover, affordable energy is reviving American manufacturing. As manufacturers leverage the affordability and reliability of our region’s shale abundance, businesses use savings to reinvest, add more production lines, and open new facilities – from Beaver County to Bradford, and down to the collar counties surrounding Philadelphia.
It is for this very reason – the natural gas industry’s correlation to increased downstream activity – that the Marcellus Shale Coalition brings our annual Shale Insight conference to Erie this year. The region’s historical ties to manufacturing demonstrates how, using Pennsylvania-produced natural gas, we can better position the Commonwealth for long-term growth and continue to deliver clean, reliable electricity.
Critically, this economic growth is occurring alongside environmental progress. With natural gas, we needn’t worry about picking jobs over the sake of our planet, we have both an environmental and economic success story to tell.
Natural gas is the cleanest, most-reliable, affordable fuel we have that serves as the perfect partner to back up solar and wind; and our members in Appalachia are producing and transporting it in the most environmentally responsible manner.
Nonprofits, analysts, and environmental groups alike have recognized the Appalachian Basin for having the lowest methane intensity among the top producing regions, and as being “best in class” for the lowest carbon dioxide intensity among U.S. shale basins.
These acknowledgments are because local operators have deployed a wide range of technologies aimed at boosting environmental performance, such as continuous data-driven methane emissions monitoring, carbon capture and storage pilots, and enhanced leak detection and repair methods – many of which will be showcased during our three-day event at Erie’s Bayfront Convention Center.
But just as energy predictions in the early 2010s weren’t completely accurate, there is no crystal ball to predict what the future holds for this new energy decade. However, one thing we can be certain is that America’s natural gas industry will never stop innovating and pushing the envelope in the quest of producing and delivering the energy that’s so critical to our lives.
Because of that commitment, we have achieved a state of energy security and environmental progress many once thought could never be possible. It is my hope that we all work collaboratively – across the political spectrum and industry sectors – to not let these advantages slip away.
David Callahan is President of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. To attend Shale Insight, visit marcelluscoalition.org/shale-insight.