Natural gas is a critical source of energy because it is a cleaner, extremely abundant, fuel source. America’s abundant supply translates to a significantly reduced dependency on foreign oil and OPEC.
Natural Gas Improves the Economy
Greater natural gas production, transportation, and consumption will help to lead the country’s economic recovery because it will help to keep manufacturing domestic which, in turn, will create more jobs, reduce fuel costs which and then reduce cost of goods.
Growth in availability of natural gas means we can again manufacture fertilizer, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals in the U.S., creating more jobs and exporting more goods.
Manufacturers who rely heavily on energy can now keep their facilities and jobs in the U.S., thanks to more affordable and stable gas prices. This helps to resolve the demand destruction issue we discussed in the Recent History section (on page 4), where facilities were either failing or relocating due to lack of availability of affordable fuel sources.
Natural Gas Consumption is Better for the Environment
According to The U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas burns 50 percent cleaner than coal and about 30 percent cleaner than oil. It’s lower carbon content and fewer impurities means it produces less sulfur dioxide, a primary contributor to acid rain. It is already used widely for personal and industrial consumption.
As the world refines and improves the technology for wind and solar energy, many organizations such as Greenpeace and experts such as T. Boone Pickens see natural gas as an ideal transition fuel. There is enough supply now to displace coal plants and meet aggressive energy goals set in international energy agreements.
Natural Gas Creates Jobs
The natural gas industry supports nearly three million jobs and adds about $385 billion to the national economy. In Texas and Pennsylvania, for example, more than 200,000 jobs were created in the last year as a result of the Natural Gas Revolution. For Texas, that translated to approximately $13.7 billion in additional economic output in 2008, alone. In Pennsylvania, 62 jobs are created for each well, equaling about $5.46 million in new output.
Jobs associated with this industry pay higher than average salaries. They also contribute to state and local tax revenues. North Dakota now has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, attributed almost exclusively to oil and gas development.
Natural Gas Changes The Way We Use Energy
Natural gas can reduce our dependency on foreign oil sources and reduce imports. T. Boone Pickens, a big supporter of natural gas, cites it’s big benefits not as an energy fuel, but as a transportation fuel.
The Pickens Plan calls to shift America’s eight million heavy duty trucks from imported diesel, which is $1 per gallon more expensive, to domestic natural gas. Approximately 15 percent of the oil America consumes is used by 18-wheelers transporting goods throughout the U.S. A shift in fuel would reduce reliance on Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by 70 percent, thereby removing support of unstable countries whose decisions and policies do not align with that of the U.S.
This shift has begun to happen and will have positive effects on the entire commerce network as shipping costs to retailers will drop and that reduction in price will be passed on to consumers.
As well, major utilities are switching to power generated by natural gas rather than coal.
Overall, a boom in the energy sector, coupled with a slow recovery in domestic manufacturing, could raise gross domestic product by two to just more than three percent by 2020, according to a recent analysis by Citigroup.