Fossil Fuel Free Week is Next Week
by Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs on September 24, 2015 - 2:34pm
We’ve enjoyed engaging on social media with people on our Fossil Fuel Free Challenge. Like the buttons on the page, comments are either from those who “get it” and understand that fossil fuels enable them to live healthy, productive, enjoyable lives, or from those who attack the energy industry, although few of them are willing to put their “money where their mouth is” and actually take the challenge.
But judging by the comments on our Facebook page and via Twitter, those folks who send us challenging messages often parrot talking points from the environmental lobby, which attempts to scare people about environmental risks. When fed a steady diet of erroneous information that exaggerates environmental impacts, it’s no wonder that people are confused about energy and environmental issues.
As we’ve said before, there are environmental impacts from all human activities. The question becomes are the impacts manageable and do the benefits outweigh the costs? Obviously, people wouldn’t use fossil fuels if they weren’t deriving benefits, and those benefits are huge: mobility to get to work and school or go on vacation; electricity to light the world, power the economy, operate machinery and communicate with the global community; modern medicines and medical devices that save lives; warmth in the winter and cooling in the summer, the list goes on and on. Nothing does all that except oil and natural gas.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t work hard to continually reduce environmental impacts. At Western Energy Alliance, we’re proud that our industry not only meets but exceeds environmental standards and constantly rises to every legitimate environmental challenge. Here’s just a small sample:
Air Quality: To get work done, there are emissions from engines and other machinery. Oil and natural gas companies meet air quality health standards, but the really good news is that because of increased natural gas electricity generation, we’re delivering a huge air quality benefit. Since 2005, as natural gas production climbed 35% and natural gas electricity generation skyrocketed 50%, pollutants declined even more dramatically: NO2 is down 52%, SO2 by 68%, and PM 2.5 by 60%.
Local Air Impacts: When monitoring in 2010 first discovered high ozone levels in Utah’s Uinta Basin, industry immediately started working with EPA, the state, NOAA, counties and academia to study wintertime ozone formation and to work for solutions. As a result, emissions levels are down dramatically and there have been no ozone levels that exceed health standards since December of 2013. Health studies at local sites continue to show development is protective of public health.
Climate Change Benefits: As the IPCC, EIA, and others have shown, natural gas has been the largest factor in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and has provided a larger climate change benefit than renewables. The Brookings Institute has shown that natural gas electricity generation cuts 2.6 times more GHGs than wind, and four times more than solar.
Protecting the Land: Oil and natural gas companies have dramatically shrunk the footprint of development on the land by clustering multiple wells on one pad. Using horizontal and directional drilling combined with advanced hydraulic fracturing, surface disturbance has been reduced up to 70%, all while recovering higher levels from in-place oil and natural gas reserves.
Protecting Wildlife: Oil and natural gas companies coexist with wildlife, and tailor operations to avoid plant and animal species and minimize and mitigate impact. For example, industry has implemented over 770 specific sage-grouse conservation measures across the range of the species, and worked cooperatively with states, counties, private landowners, and the federal government to help stave off an endangered listing.
For the week of September 28th, we challenge anyone questioning the role of fossil fuels in their daily lives to judge for themselves if life is better with or without oil, natural gas and the countless products they produce.