When Earth Day was founded in 1970, its purpose was well-intended but vague. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin), who originally conceptualized the event, wanted to model it after the protests surrounding the Vietnam War. At a conference in September 1969, the senator announced that there would be a national “environmental teach-in” the following spring. He encouraged Americans to take a hard look at what was happening to the environment, and to organize a series of demonstrations on April 22 to draw attention to these critical issues.
And demonstrate they did. Millions of Americans turned out to protest air and water pollution, oil spills, pesticides, and a host of other environmental concerns.
Much has changed since that day 39 years ago. Far from a “novel” or new issue, the environment has become a top priority in public policy – inspiring nearly every U.S. lawmaker, as well as most countries in the world, to call for legislation to halt environmental deterioration.
But in 29 of those years, one thing hasn’t changed: U.S. residential natural gas consumption. This Earth Day, AGA salutes the 70 million U.S. natural gas customers who have collectively succeeded at doing what no other energy users have done – holding consumption steady. Despite the fact that the number of residential and commercial natural gas customers has doubled since 1980, natural gas consumption has remained the same. As a result, the average American home uses 32 percent less natural gas now than it did in 1980.
Natural gas users are doing their part to leave a cleaner, healthier planet for future generations – just as Senator Nelson envisioned.