ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Natural gas is a fossil fuel. It is a reliable and resilient energy resource that generates power needed by millions of homes and businesses across the United States. It is clean, abundant, and produces more electricity in the United States than any other fuel. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates natural gas to be the world's fastest growing fossil fuel, with consumption expected to increase 43% between 2015-2040, as world energy consumption increases 28%. As the country leverages our abundant shale gas resources, U.S. energy dominance will eliminate dependence on imported fuels from unstable regions of the world, positively affecting foreign and domestic policy. Today, natural gas generates 33.8 percent of our nation’s electricity. Natural gas consumption releases significantly less carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other particulates than competing energy sources, which has contributed to an overall reduction in CO2 emissions. Additionally, as unconventional natural gas production has increased, overall methane emissions have decreased.
|Year||PA Unconventional Production (mcf)||CH4 Emissions (tons)||Tons CH4 / mcf produced|
Much like oil, natural gas is a gaseous form of petroleum created from the remains of prehistoric plants and animals, hence the name: fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are categorized as a finite resource, and though there is a limited amount, that amount is enormous. Energy producers continuously identify new fossil fuel reserves and develop new technologies that enable the recovery of oil and gas from deposits previously deemed inaccessible. According to the Institute for Energy Research, it estimated that there is enough natural gas to provide the United States with electricity for 575 years at current generation levels, or 857 years at current residential usage rates.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency stated, "Natural gas plays a key role in our nation's clean energy future. The U.S. has vast reserves of natural gas that are commercially viable as a result of advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies enabling greater access to gas in shale formations. Responsible development of America's shale gas resources offers important economic, energy security, and environmental benefits."
Energy touches every part of our daily lives. It makes modern life possible and it is unrealistic to suggest that we can meet future energy needs without fossil fuels. Even wind and solar power are intermittent and require the energy from fossil fuels, such as natural gas, to build turbines and panels. For comparison, wind is 12 times more expensive than natural gas and requires 60 times the surface area, while solar is 37.5 times more expensive and requires 750 times the surface area than natural gas does. Furthermore, turbines are responsible for killing eagles, hawks, bats, other birds, and the disposal of solar panels, which contain toxic materials, after their 25 year life is often not considered in the energy discussion.
Energy is critical in providing:
- Transportation (cars, trucks, freight, planes, subway, ships, roads)
- Electricity (lighting, refrigerators, water heaters, computers, phones, washer/dryer, internet, TV)
- Cooking (ovens, stoves, microwaves, grills)
- Heating (homes, businesses, warehouses, vehicles, public spaces)
- Manufacturing (lubrication, packaging, processing, delivery)
- Agriculture (farming, ranching, food products)