Yesterday Dave Parker participated in the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to respond to their question, “Anything Matter More Than Jobs?” Please take a moment to read his response posted below or visit the National Journal Energy Experts blog to view the comments from others in this respected group.
The American Gas Association (AGA) supports President Obama’s and Congress’ energy and environmental policy priorities that aim to further develop renewable energies. However, we need to recognize that it will be years before these alternative fuels will be available in quantities to replace existing fuels that are so important in sustaining our economy. Therefore, more attention should be placed on our energy security by encouraging more American fuel source development. As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas is being looked to with more frequency to generate electricity, putting upward pressure on its price and making it less affordable for residential customers who rely on it to meet essential human needs (98% of natural gas is produced in North America). In the future, when renewables are able to take on more of that electricity generation, it will dampen demand for natural gas in that market and in turn make it more affordable for our customers to heat their homes, cook their meals and ensure hot water comes out of the tap.
While renewable energy initiatives are one part of a complex combination of future energy solutions, the timetables being discussed for substantially increasing the use of renewables for electricity generation are optimistic at best, meaning natural gas will remain the fuel of choice in the electricity generation market.
Natural gas currently comprises almost one-fourth of all energy used in the United States and is directly linked to the economic well-being of the nation. In fact, there are currently at least 5.8 million Americans who are employed either directly or indirectly by the natural gas and oil industries. Of those 5.8 million Americans, there are 1.8 million people who are employed directly by the companies that produce, ship and supply natural gas and oil to American consumers, with another 4 million Americans employed in supporting positions indirectly created by the development of America’s domestic energy.
Since America’s natural gas and oil workers earned an individual average of more than $66,000 in 2004, which is $20,000 more than the combined household income for the average American family, these higher paying jobs also help employ other Americans in a variety of businesses – including automobile manufacturing, housing construction, retail sales and more.
In the current financial and economic crisis, natural gas has a great opportunity to help revitalize our economy, to help fight climate change and to help enhance America’s energy security – all at the same time.