In working on infrastructure projects for two energy clients at Bravo Group, Williams and Sunoco Logistics, expanding the country’s energy portfolio and reaching energy independence are important pillars for these projects. With the national spotlight on the pipeline debate, it’s especially important that people understand what these projects mean for America’s infrastructure and in terms of environmental, health and economic impacts.
A diverse energy portfolio includes a number of types of energy to be allocated for different needs. The fact is that for some purposes, such as power generation, natural gas is a necessity. What’s not discussed often enough is that as renewable energy sources continue to make up a greater portion of U.S. energy production, fossil fuels will continue to play a critical role in U.S. energy production.
As 2016 came to a close, the United States was the only developed country where gas and oil production had dramatically increased while greenhouse gas emissions had significantly decreased in the power generation sector. Besides greenhouse gas emissions, harmful pollutants typically associated with power generation were also been greatly reduced. These positive environmental and health benefits associated with the shale revolution are in addition to the benefits realized by local communities and the U.S. economy as a whole.
A Brookings Institution report looking at 2000 to 2015 found that changes in regional energy systems such as substituting natural gas-fired generation for coal-fired resulted in a 15 percent decline in CO2 emissions along with a 19 percent GDP increase for Northeastern states. Shale production has also indirectly helped improve the competitive advantage that the United States has in portions of the manufacturing industry, such as plastics, by lowering energy costs for manufacturers and driving job growth.
Last week, Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih commented on the industry, explaining U.S. priorities to expand our energy portfolio and make the U.S. more energy independent. Falih said, “Saudi Arabia and the United States cannot afford not to work together … to confront the challenges that are facing the world.” With global concerns in mind, he applauded President Donald Trump for not entertaining unrealistic anti-fossil fuel policies.
With our place in the international economy at stake, now is the time to consider how to move forward productively. While competing with other world economic powers is vital to a point, it doesn’t necessarily have to come down to that. Instead we can focus on keeping up with global energy demand and working to meet the world’s needs.
Energy independence is one of the primary goals for our country and it will be crucial for Trump to be able to follow through with his promises as a candidate. By working toward it, the U.S. will better be able to keep up with ever-changing global energy demand as its energy portfolio simultaneously diversifies. Ultimately, it is paramount to understand that we live in a real world and not an idealistic one.
Tory Santucci, Pittsburgh PR/Communications Intern
Image credit: E & S Electric