The American energy story Obama won’t tell the world

November 29, 2015
A pumpjack brings oil to the surface  in the Monterey Shale, California, April 29, 2013. The vast Monterey shale formation is estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration to hold 15 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, or four times that of the Bakken formation centered on North Dakota. Most of that oil is not economically retrievable except by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a production-boosting technique in which large amounts of water, sand and chemicals are injected into shale formations to force hydrocarbon fuels to the surface. Picture taken April 29, 2013.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXZ5IT

A pumpjack brings oil to the surface in the Monterey Shale, California, April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

President Barack Obama is poised to repeat his history of weak-handed negotiations on the world stage when nearly 200 countries gather in Paris on Monday to consider an international response to climate change. According to the president, rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline and piling regulations on the fossil fuel and power industries in the United States are necessary to preserving America’s credibility as a leader on the world stage.

But by doing this, Obama ignores the strongest card in America’s hand as he steps to the table: the advances our energy sector has made to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously acting as the lone bright spot in our economy.

In essence, his rhetoric is blind to the true story of American energy. But this story cannot be ignored.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, monthly power sector carbon dioxide emissions reached a 27-year low in April 2015. But, the progress does not stop there. Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are also declining. According to data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped 9 percent between 2005 and 2013 — the largest reduction from any country.

So what has made these positive developments possible? The answer is America’s oil and natural gas renaissance, as well as our insatiable appetite to innovate. Despite Obama’s efforts to stop oil and natural gas development on federal lands and the introduction of unnecessary regulations that increase the cost of production and consumption, American production has been growing at an astounding rate. Natural gas production hit nearly 91 billion cubic feet per day — an increase of about 27 billion cubic feet since August 2006, or enough gas to power up to 290,000 homes per year.

A Manhattan Institute study concluded that the increase in clean natural gas production is the greatest contributor toward declining U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, carbon emissions in America are down to where they were a quarter century ago, though our population has been growing.

Even EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has recognized the important contributions of American natural gas to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, saying hydraulic fracturing has “created an opportunity for a shift… into natural gas, and that shift has been enormously beneficial from a clean air perspective, as well as from a climate perspective.”

It is important to note that this progress wasn’t driven by arbitrary benchmarks or government mandates, but rather by the free market and natural consensus for a freer, safer, and more economically prosperous future. The conclusion the president should draw from this and bring to the table with the international community is clear: only by embracing the free market can we improve the world’s environmental outlook while also strengthening our economies.

To demonstrate true leadership, Obama should start emphasizing the important role of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development across the globe. America would then be standing for policies with proven results rather than for ideas that may sound good, but just don’t work. Developing nations desperate for economic growth would be particularly enthusiastic with this proposition as an alternative to the economically disastrous policies currently in vogue.

And this is exactly the vision the Republican-led Congress intends to project to the world. We are listening to the American people, who largely do not support the president’s regulatory agenda and who understand that there is a better way. Obama’s policies will kill jobs, increase costs, and decrease reliability in an attempt to achieve a goal that the free market is already achieving. His policy is, in essence, regulatory cap-and-trade — the same type of cap-and-trade that was defeated by Congress in 2009 when the president’s own party was in control.

To this end, Congress will promote the American energy story and reject commitments based on a misguided understanding of our climate, economic progress, and our needs for tomorrow. I have always believed if you give an engineer enough time, she will unlock a solution. Our energy revolution has been one of the greatest developments in the industrialized world. Abandoning it could be one of the biggest mistakes.

So when the President goes in front of the COP21 gathering, he should embrace and share the story of American success. Only then will he negotiate from a position of strength along with the moral authority to encourage the world to follow suit.

 

43 comments

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Come on!

It is Kevin McCathy who is politicizing the energy story in highlighting fracking alone.

Of course President Obama will tell the great advancements America has made through both regulation and technology.

McCarthy has not given a reason why the President would not promote American gains.

What also McCarthy ignored is that engineers have the capabilities to continue those gains by weeding us and the world off fossil fuels completely through energy conservation, energy upgrades, renewable energy, and regulations.

The President will provide a full account as a statesman.

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

As long as China and India keep spewing carbon into the atmosphere and they’re increasing the use of coal, there is little hope the rest of the world can make up for their difference.

Good article though. Nearly 8 years of the US becoming subservient to the rest of the world. The Saudis know the US is on the right track, thus their interest in Texas refineries.

Posted by MEOilMan | Report as abusive

EPA adds further pollution by ridiculously stringent licensing standards for converting exsisting vehicles to natural gas which is both cleaner and cheaper and becoming more available but for the $6000- $10,000 cost to convert to CNG which could be done for $1500-$2000 without licensing standards which require separate licenses for virtually every possible engine configuration.
Obama-boob could enhance energy independence and encourage use of less polluting CNG if they would provide a tax credit to gas station owners to provide CNG compression stations ( needed to compress gas for use in small tanks for vehicles) along exsisting natural gas domestic delivery pipelines.
If CNG wasn’t much cleaner OSHA would never allow propane/CNG power forklifts to run inside manufacturing plants next to workers every day.
Other world powers and many third world countries convert vehicles to CNG every day for under $2000. We can in Utah and Oklahoma but apparently not elsewhere

Posted by KirJ | Report as abusive

What does anyone expect? Obama is always trying to minimalize American exceptionalism.

Even if China and India do capitulate, developing countries will not. They need cheap, efficient energy. Solar and wind are for those who don’t mind paying too much for too little.

Posted by straightthinker | Report as abusive

Global warming is the biggest scam in world history.

Posted by xsnake | Report as abusive

Pipelines don’t produce carbon. They just move stuff from A to B.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

just one question which has never been adequately answered. Why was the name changed from global warming to climate change? It is all the same data.

Posted by roy011 | Report as abusive

This writer is ignorant. The XL pipeline is a NAFTA piece of garbage. If you’re from an oil state, making half the revenue you were a year ago…. why would you POSSIBLY want more Canadian oil dumped here? Unless you were just an ignorant tool for international oil companies.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Give me a break.

[Coal is produced in 24 states and is exported in every direction to 76 countries. That means thousands of good paying jobs for American workers.]

http://www.uscoalexports.org

Posted by SaveRMiddle | Report as abusive

Let me see if I follow this logic. The main reason for the decrease in coal production, and increased use of oil and gas is cheap gas. So we should have less regulation causing more health problems and more toxins in the environment. This will make oil cheaper so that each barrel of Canadian oil looses more money
http://www.wsj.com/articles/oil-sands-pr oducers-struggle-1440017716

“Every single SAGD/CSS player [is] bleeding cash on every barrel of bitumen produced at the current WTI” spot prices, TD Securities said.

Canadian energy shares were down across the board Wednesday, as worries about global oversupply and a slowdown in China added to more Canada-specific concerns.

As to regulations “stifling” — natural gas output. Unless this is a fiction site run by gov trolls, that is just not the case: http://naturalgas.org/regulation/market/

Perhaps the author thinks that we should have no regulation at all. That would be really great. Then people near drilling sites could have their homes heated for free. They would only need to ignite water coming into their homes.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2 013/06/fracking
http://www.propublica.org/article/scient ific-study-links-flammable-drinking-wate r-to-fracking

Of note: How about that reuters try and maintain some degree of integrity by screening or posting corrections to stupid statements offered up by ignorant people like for example MEOilman. A quick search turns up:

While improving data quality and openness should be a priority, that should not distract from the fact that China’s coal use is now falling fast.

from: http://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2015/11  /23/whats-happening-china-coal/

Other sources give similar results. China coal use is going down. They have discovered that unregulated coal use causes their people to die, and the rich to flee, taking their money with them.

Posted by fact0tum | Report as abusive

What government department do all of the GOP agree should be disbanded? It is the Dept. of Energy. The department that oversees the national labs and most of the science funding. They hate science.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

Nice paid advertisement, Mr. McCarthy. Hydraulic fracturing emissions are double that of coal. Surrounding soil and ground water becomes contaminated. The average well uses 40,000 gallons of chemicals. At best your trading one problem for another. I realize big Oil & gas a major campaign contributors but you’re supposed to be a leader, not a puppet.

Posted by jeffst | Report as abusive

This reads like an oil company shareholder’s report, rather than responsible commentary and leaves many unanswered questions. For example, What are the “regulations” imposed on fossil fuel extraction companies? How do these not help to limit carbon emissions? Why cite the disallowing of the XL pipeline as if there were of national importance? It would have provided around 5 permanent jobs, risked long-term environment damage and merely provided a route for Canadian fossil-fuel extractors to export their product to Asia. Even Canada’s own British Columbia refused to allow this pipeline through its territory. Citing improvements in recent US carbon emissions does not change the fact that these are still too little, too late. We need to do a LOT more than we’ve done. “America would … be standing for policies with proven results rather than for ideas that may sound good, but just don’t work.”
What “policies” that don’t work. Are historic policies of socialized oil extraction that have brought us to the brink of planetary destruction policies that “work”. I don’t think so. If we are going to continue our historic policies of corporate soclialism, these policies need to support corporations that embrace sustainable technologies of the future, not corporate dinosaurs like fossil fuel extractors desperately, with a final thrashing of their tails, trying to gobble up yet more of US taxpayers’ money. Such policies have been in place in Germany and Denmark for more than 2 decades and have resulted in massively better improvements in carbon emissions than have been achieved in the U.S. and their economies are doing fine. I don’t call that “policies that don’t work”

Posted by Felipe191 | Report as abusive

“Reached a 27 year low”, “Dropped 9 percent” …

All fine and dandy. Meaningless, though, when American per capita emissions are placed in the blinding perspective of country comparisons:

Here are PER-CAPITA CO2 emissions (2011, World Bank)

United States 17.0
Canada 14.1
China 6.7
India 1.7

How the heck does even Canada produce less than the USA?

Posted by RudyF | Report as abusive

This opinion piece is only partially truthful, and that is, of course the art of spinning. Fracking has given us gas and oil supplies that have driven down prices and allowed for greater research. But that doesn’t change the ugly underlying truths: oil is the energy source for cave men, and the fracking process is likely to become the asbestos crisis of the next century. Who knows many hundreds of thousands of toxic chemicals are being pumped into the ground, and where they will end up. Worse yet, the mere fact that we’re desperately trying to squeeze the oil out of the ground at this juncture speaks for itself; eventually the oil will dry up, and we’ll need an alternative. The concept that oil is the answer ignores all common sense in light of the environmental impact. Oil is the problem, and the time is now for developing the best alternatives. We need more leaders like the President who are willing to challenge our scientists to develop new ideas, and new solutions. No disrespect intended to Senator McCarthy, but his views represent the oil lobby and the ideas of the last century.

Posted by Hult | Report as abusive

Ohhhh, poor thing. Obama won’t tell the right-wing energy story cooked up by Representative wingnut here. Sounds like maybe you people need to run someone for President who is smarter than Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin for a change.

We’ll get started on that hurt feelings report.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

I appreciate the author’s statement that, “Obama should start emphasizing the important role of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development across the globe.” It shows an enlightened capitalist’s view of merging science and economic benefits, which could appeal to world leaders. Additionally, none of the comments “against” this view present good arguments.

P.S. RudyF’s per capita emissions report fails to report the full impact of those countries were he, instead, to report the per sq. mile emissions. China and India are 4x the population of the U.S. while their geographic footprints are similar. Therefore, the per square mile emissions are far greater from China and India.

Posted by hometown | Report as abusive

Perfect opinion piece!
It reads like a PR piece from the oil industry itself – portraying itself as flawless, driven purely by a desire to innovate and of course government as the big bad problem.
Go McCarthy!

Posted by thriver | Report as abusive

I must have tapped submit….so nevermind, I think McCarthy is just trying to re-establish crediblitliy with major donors.

Posted by moreorless | Report as abusive

Utter gibbly-gook, as we all are intelligent enough to comprehend there is not “one” solution, but a collective of solutions to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, fossil fuel exploration itself produces an inordinate amount of emissions in addition to soil and water pollution, especially in areas of the country where poverty is already a gripping factor.

McCarthy’s piece only confirms that either the republicans are incapable of deep thought or they simply do not care about people as their fealty belongs to the likes of the Koch slime and Exxon.

Keep on digging your hole, McCarthy.

Posted by pzuppo | Report as abusive

Kevin McCarthy should be ashamed of himself. He’s an educated person now placed in a position of great responsibility, where he could have a huge positive influence not only on his party colleagues, but also the USA and the world, looking outwards instead of inwards.

Why does he not ask himself why the whole of the rest of the political and scientific world is rooting for a climate agreement in Paris? Then, after understanding the problem properly, take the political initiative and propose an efficient free-market solution to the problem of reducing CO2 in the USA instead of the more inefficient regulatory mechanisms Obama is using.

To see everything in terms of narrow politics and donor funding is surely not why fate put him in the position of responsibility he now has.

And there has got to be political advantage to be had in dropping pointless opposition to an international treaty which the rest of the world is pretty determined to sign, and which the majority of USA voters also support.

Not that any of these things would be easy for someone in his position. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But he has the opportunity to show true leadership and to set the Republican party on the right track again and much improve its chances of winning the presidency in 2016.

Posted by PeterDavies | Report as abusive

In order to extract oil, the water supply must die. That’s the American Way.

Posted by readme | Report as abusive

More fossil fuel funded hogwash

Posted by brownland | Report as abusive

Hometown explains: “Therefore, the per square mile emissions are far greater from China and India.”

So what? New York city has the highest rate of gun ownership per square mile in the United States. Does that mean they have good gun laws? No. It means they’re crowded.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

GOP = Oil Industry
and if you believe anything either one tells you, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you real cheap.

Posted by Calvin2k | Report as abusive

In summary:
the free market is great, but don’t price the externalities of polluting, and therefore encourage market solutions. Definitely not.

Unrelatedly, oil and gas firms have donated a quarter of a million dollars to Kevin McCarthy’s campaigns since 2008.

https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/ contrib.php?cid=N00028152&cycle=Career

Posted by Tstaw | Report as abusive

I think Kevin got up an the wrong side of the bed today. He makes broad unbacked statements that have very little credibility. I can say changes and regulation will create a new opportunity for better technology. It will create newer and better jobs. I bet you I can back up my facts better than his… Come up with a better plan with better facts and we all listen… Don’t just believe, prove your world.

Posted by evans887 | Report as abusive

So the “American energy story” is… a fairy tale?

I’m really looking forward to seeing more deeply researched GOP op-ed pieces from Reuters!

Posted by aemono | Report as abusive

I just paid $1.59 a gallon for gasoline. And this republican cry-baby politician is mad that Obama is doing energy all wrong.

Well, I paid $4.15 under Bush. So bite me, GOP.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

This Article paid for by your Mega-Oil Companies.

Posted by howsad | Report as abusive

If Obuma would close his stupid mouth, that act alone would save the climate. what a loser

Posted by OBryan | Report as abusive

“our energy sector … acting as the lone bright spot in our economy.

In essence, his rhetoric is blind to the true story of American energy.”

Funny how you make a claim that is entirely rhetoric and then accuse Obama of doing the same…

Posted by Bracked | Report as abusive

McCarthy the mouth piece of big oil speaks. And the little mutant minions grovel below.

Posted by BakoD | Report as abusive

One of the big reasons for Americas reduction in C02 is because most manufacturing facilities which require massive amounts of energy have all gone to China who is now suffocating itself to death in order to be number 1 .We too used to be swimming in a sea of pollution when we used to make things and sell them world wide.This is what happens when companies don’t like being regulated and decide to move their operations and jobs offshore to go pollute somewhere else .Its called short term gain,long term loss.They made more money and now we all suffer for their greed which has led to countless wars and needless deaths.Capitalism will be mankind’s undoing.

Posted by MICHAEL70 | Report as abusive

On the other hand. . . Here’s the energy story the oil and gas industry’s “Charlie” McCarthy won’t tell America:
1. The “reduction” in carbon emissions he refers to only applies to the moment of consumption of the fuel. It doesn’t include the vast amount of gas leaked, or the huge volumes of gas intentionally flared during the production and transportation of fossil fuels. Charlie’s own home district is ground zero for an ongoing environmental catastrophe in which hundreds of thousands of tons of methane have already spewed across the countryside near Porter Ranch, California. He doesn’t mention this in his blog. And yet, hundreds of Mr. McCarthy’s constituents have been relocated from their homes after complaints of nosebleeds and nausea. And there is no immediate end in sight. Officials estimate that specialists might be able to plug the leak in the next three to four months. The gas emitted so far has been compared to the emissions of 160,000 cars for a year. Some reduction.
2. Charlie’s claim that the oil and gas industry is the “lone bright spot in the economy” ignores the plummeting stock values of shale gas companies, the increasing number of institutions divesting of fossil fuel stocks, the steady fall in rig counts across the country, and the explosion of unemployment in the fossil fuel sector.
Five Pinocchios, Kevin. . . er, Charlie.

Posted by virgilny | Report as abusive

On the other hand. . . here’s the energy story the oil and gas industry’s “Charlie” McCarthy won’t tell America:
1. The “reduction” in carbon emissions he refers to only applies to the moment of consumption of the fuel. It doesn’t include the vast amount of gas leaked, or the huge volumes of gas intentionally flared during the production and transportation of the gas. Charlie’s neighboring congressional district is ground zero for an ongoing environmental catastrophe in which hundreds of thousands of tons of methane have already spewed across the countryside near Porter Ranch, California. He doesn’t mention this in his blog. And yet, hundreds of Mr. McCarthy’s fellow Californians have been relocated from their homes after complaints of nosebleeds and nausea. And there is no immediate end in sight. Officials estimate that specialists might be able to plug the leak in the next three to four months. The gas emitted so far has been compared to the emissions of 160,000 cars for a year. Some reduction.
2. Charlie’s claim that the oil and gas industry is the lone bright spot in the economy ignores the plummeting stock values of shale gas companies, the increasing number of institutions divesting of fossil fuel stocks, the steady fall in rig counts across the country, and the explosion of unemployment in the fossil fuel sector.
Five Pinocchios, Kevin. . . er, Charlie.

Posted by virgilny | Report as abusive

My mistake. The Porter Ranch catastrophe is in Mr. McCarthy’s neighboring district in
California, not in his own congressional district. Apologies.

Posted by virgilny | Report as abusive

democrats don’t care about lowering Carbon….they are after your money…the global warming scam is to steal your money. How many of the global warming fraudsters and scammers flew to Paris on their private jets? Obama Christmas Tree…came from ALASKA? Obama big backers live 20000 sq ft homes and fly their private jets. Obama supports burning wood…the highest CO2 output source of power?

Posted by laurel1 | Report as abusive

democrats don’t care about lowering Carbon….they are after your money…the global warming scam is to steal your money. How many of the global warming fraudsters and scammers flew to Paris on their private jets? Obama Christmas Tree…came from ALASKA? Obama big backers live 20000 sq ft homes and fly their private jets. Obama supports burning wood…the highest CO2 output source of power?

Posted by laurel1 | Report as abusive

democrats don’t care about lowering Carbon….they are after your money…the global warming scam is to steal your money. How many of the global warming fraudsters and scammers flew to Paris on their private jets? Obama Christmas Tree…came from ALASKA? Obama big backers live 20000 sq ft homes and fly their private jets. Obama supports burning wood…the highest CO2 output source of power?

Posted by laurel1 | Report as abusive

This is a poorly written article, mainly for two reasons:

– The Keystone pipeline was to carry dirty sand oils from Canada, and not natural gas.
– The Obama administration’s efforts have been aimed primarily at cutting emissions from coal plants, and not gas. In fact, gas is recognized as one of the key components of achieving a cleaner energy portfolio.

Sad to see Reuters waste space on pieces like this.

Posted by fa63 | Report as abusive

Natural gas is every bit as dirty as coal, and all of this industry green-washing won’t change that. Fracking chemicals are a waste disposal nightmare that nobody wants to acknowledge. Fracking reduces significant methane during the drilling and recovery processes that make the emissions from natural gas just as bad as coal. The truth is that all fossil fuels are bad, without exception. Our only intelligent recourse is to leave them all in the ground and switch to completely emissions-free energy generation, which can be done with modern technologies.

Posted by grover19 | Report as abusive

Talk about paid advertising!
Fess up Kevin McCarthy, how much were you paid by the Natural Gas Lobby to write this article?
Do you think the FACT that millions of manufacturing jobs were shipped over to China and other slave-labor countries, along with the CO2 emitting machinery, might, JUST MIGHT, be a major reason that US emissions have declined and China’s have risen?
This is a textbook example of lying through omission.
I think the FBI now uses that to charge suspected terrorists and their sympathizers.

Posted by TruthSeeker52 | Report as abusive