Natural Gas and Oil Industry Continues to Push Toward a Cleaner Environment
In Colorado, natural gas has catalyzed the state's decreasing CO2 emissions over the last decade
The natural gas and oil industry has made significant strides enhancing American security, economic growth and environmental sustainability. The industry continues to look forward, to grow in technologically advanced and efficient ways, protect and preserve the environment. One of the findings in a new study released by the American Petroleum Institute is that America’s natural gas and oil industry is a leader in making our air cleaner through increased investments in renewables and other low-carbon technologies.
Between 2000 and 2016, the natural gas and oil industry directly invested more than $108 billion dollars in zero- and low-carbon emissions technologies, according to the study by T2 and Associates.That’s more than double the investments of each of the next two industry sectors over the same period – and is, in addition to surging domestic natural gas production that also is playing a leading role in reducing U.S. emissions.
According to the EPA, methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems nationally decreased 14 percent between 1990 and 2016, at a time when natural gas production increased by more than 50 percent.
In Colorado, natural gas has catalyzed the state's decreasing CO2 emissions within the last 10 years – much of this is due to natural gas having 60 percent lower emissions than coal. Emissions from the electric power sector are also at their lowest point since 2000, despite rising demand.
At the end of last year, the natural gas and oil industry emphasized its commitment to accelerating reductions in methane and VOC emissions from U.S. operations through the Environmental Partnership. So far, 37 companies of all sizes operating across the U.S., and every major shale play, are on board and we expect more to sign on. This partnership will report progress on emissions and reductions and work to build collaboration within the industry.
This is leadership.
The industry also is making exploration more efficient, innovative and clean. The industry continues to develop the use of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies to increase efficiencies and make more informed exploration decisions, which often translates to a smaller environmental footprint.
Let’s not forget that Colorado has some of the most forward thinking — albeit stringent — natural gas and oil regulations in the country. States look to Colorado as a state that’s achieving a positive balance between energy development and environmental sustainability. Colorado has made significant progress in reducing ozone emissions and levels have improved over time. The natural gas and oil industry will continue to work with the state to foster the responsible, balanced development of our natural resources for the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the citizens of Colorado, the environment and wildlife resources.
These are just a few of the innovative business and policy solutions that the natural gas and oil industry has championed. The focus on preserving our environment from the industry isn’t enough. The industry also must provide jobs and opportunities, stimulate our economy, and offer affordable energy. It’s a tough juggling act, but there is a sound business case to make for pushing for cleaner and more sustainable business practices across all industries.
Tracee Bentley is the Executive Director of the Colorado Petroleum Council.