While not a Presidential election year, 2024 hopefuls are spending the summer promoting policy solutions to win the hearts and minds of Americans across the country. Energy – and our country’s strategic advantage as the world’s largest natural gas and oil producer – remains a focal point on both sides of the political aisle.
Why? Because access to energy is directly tied to human progress and economic well-being. Against the Independence Day backdrop, we celebrate the freedoms made possible by our energy abundance in America and our ability to share it with the world.
“We can make our country more energy independent. We can make our allies more energy secure. We can make our world and our future safer in the face of climate change and geopolitical turmoil,” Energy Secretary Granholm noted about the benefits of natural gas for our nation.
After nearly 70 years of policymakers talking about the importance of energy independence, America achieved this goal in 2019 – a direct result of the market forces and technological innovations that unlocked vast deposits of oil and natural gas. In the years since, America has become an energy exporter because of a thriving industry capable of providing clean, reliable energy to allies across the Atlantic and Pacific.
Appalachia has played a critical role in this energy landscape. Our three states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia – are situated in the largest U.S. natural gas producing basin and perhaps the largest in the world, supplying over one-third of the nation’s total gas production.
We are proud that the industry here not only produces and delivers the hydrocarbon products needed for modern life, but also contributes to massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Ever evolving, Appalachian developers continue to push the envelope to safely bring more supply to market, deploying cutting edge technology in the field, driving production efficiencies and sustainability initiatives.
Four short years after achieving this long-sought energy security status, we unfortunately face incredible challenges here at home. Extremist policies have put all the progress we have made at risk. America’s power grid is struggling, thanks to policies forcing economy-wide electrification while decommissioning valuable baseload power plants that balance intermittent power sources. Compounding this challenge are policies creating an infrastructure-starved natural gas network. We desperately need more pipelines and related facilities to bring natural gas to markets regionally, nationally, and globally.
Indeed, the sector has seen some important wins this year in the region, particularly with Mountain Valley Pipeline being included in the national debt ceiling deal’s passage, which is crucial to relieving the infrastructure constrains that have plagued our region for too long. Other advancements include natural gas-fired electric generating capacity expanding in Ohio, opportunities arising in West Virginia and Pennsylvania’s quest to build out a liquified natural gas (LNG) export facility near Philadelphia.
As these three areas of development are encouraging steps in the right direction, they also highlight the key growth areas required to continue providing this essential resource.
Appalachia’s reserves of natural gas can support our energy needs for generations. Matched with our highly skilled workforce, it’s a winning combination to drive further economic and environmental gains. Unfortunately, regulatory bottlenecks, permit delays, and frivolous legal challenges are holding back the region from fully realizing its potential.
The politicization of energy is threatening our energy and national security. Picking winners and punishing losers via policy is not the way to manage energy. We need commonsense solutions that allow all sources in the energy marketplace to evolve. American natural gas developers are future-focused and working every day to meet our complex energy needs safely, efficiently, and sustainably.
As we celebrate our Independence Day, let’s not lose sight of the importance of energy independence and allow Appalachian ingenuity to keep driving our nation forward.
Dave Callahan is President of the Pennsylvania-based Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), Charlie Burd is Executive Director of the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia (GO-WV), and Rob Brundrett is President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA).