Though this year’s headlines haven’t always led with groundbreaking energy policy issues, it has been a subject for discussion at all levels = from local government to state races, as well as in the national election.
Here in North Carolina, we’ve seen firsthand how energy is shaping conversation. We’ve seen discussion surrounding the need for oil and natural gas resource assessments in the Atlantic Ocean through seismic surveying.
We’ve also seen vigorous debate about the development of wind farms in northeastern N.C. and off our coast. We experienced a gas shortage in the southeast that created panic in some areas and showed us how important energy infrastructure is to our economy and daily lives.
Along those lines, we’ve also witnessed the groundwork being laid for more energy infrastructure in the state through the continued development of solar facilities and the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline that will supply clean-burning, low-cost natural gas to consumers in the eastern part of the state.
Overall, the need for energy from all different types of sources remains paramount to the quality of life we enjoy, and it is vital to supporting a robust economy. Specifically, natural gas continues to lead an important transition to a lower carbon energy future, ensuring a reliable, domestically produced supply that complements other emerging but intermittent energy sources and technologies, like wind and solar.
According to a recent article from Forbes, the demand for natural gas will continue to grow, and the United States has a large amount of natural gas resources and proven reserves. In fact, the United States is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas and as a result, we can not only meet growing demand here at home, but we can also leverage our supply geopolitically by exporting to our allies.
Furthermore, the United States also leads the world in reduction of carbon emissions, with clean-burning natural gas driving emissions in the power sector to 25-year lows.
We can likely all agree that the most influential event of the year was the November election. In addition to the results, fascinating and insightful data give us a sense of how the American people view a number of important issues, including energy.
To paraphrase American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard, American voters of all political stripes agreed that the country needs strong energy leadership to create jobs, lower fuel costs for consumers, enhance our energy security and lower emissions.
In a press call with reporters, Gerard revealed the results of an API actual voter poll conducted on election night:
“Eighty percent of voters support increased development of U.S. oil and natural gas resources, including 71 percent of Democrats, 94 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents,” said Gerard.
Seventy-seven percent of voters say they support a national energy policy that ensures a secure supply of abundant, affordable and available energy for the American people in an environmentally responsible manner.”
“Voters want a Congress and administration that works for their interests. And just as there is bipartisan voter support for energy priorities, there is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work toward pro-development policies that provide economic growth, job creation and energy security,” said Gerard.
We have the same need for bipartisan collaboration at home here in North Carolina. With an incoming Democratic governor and a Republican legislature, there is an opportunity for energy development and, specifically, energy infrastructure to become a unifying issue that will lead to prosperity and economic growth within our state.
Whether it is researching the potential for oil and natural gas off the coast, supporting the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline or continuing the build-out of renewable energy capacity under market driven policies, our leaders should look to energy as a bridge to finding common ground that will move our state forward.
You see, energy is a political issue. But I would submit to you that it doesn’t have to be that way, and it certainly should not be partisan. We all - as individuals and as a community - need energy to thrive and reach our fullest potential.
Affordable, reliable energy improves every aspect of our daily lives from the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the transportation we use to the power for our homes, schools, hospitals, churches and businesses.
It is how we help provide and care for those in need and those less fortunate among us. So surely we should put aside our differences and find common ground to embrace progress.
During this holiday season, as we all sit back and reflect on how blessed we are, perhaps we should take a minute to consider where we would be as a society and as individuals without all the many wonderful benefits that energy, and specifically oil and natural gas, provide in our lives.
If looking back on this year is any indication, energy will continue to be an active part of the policy narrative again next year. Stay tuned for my 2017 energy forecast in the final piece of this series.
David McGowan III is executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Council. The North Carolina Petroleum Council is a division of American Petroleum Institute, which represents all segments of America's technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its 500-plus members provide most of the nation's energy. For more information, go to http://www.api.org or contact McGowan at [email protected].
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