What fuels our future? That’s the question we’re asking this week at the World Gas Conference (WGC), which is being held here in the United States for the first time in 30 years. And the clear answer is American ingenuity and innovation, coupled with freedom and a commitment to developing all of our energy resources.
Thanks to this combination, our country is in the midst of a spectacular period of energy progress. Due to the resulting cascade of technological breakthroughs from the private sector and the federal government, the United States is producing abundant, affordable energy from a wider range of energy sources than anyone ever thought possible, and is using this energy more cleanly and efficiently as well.
Natural gas has been and remains a critical component of the nation’s energy portfolio. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan spoke at the last WGC meeting held in the United States and stressed its importance as an affordable, secure and clean-burning fuel. That year, the United States produced just under 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and it accounted for less than 10 percent of our power mix. Last year, the United States produced nearly 29 trillion cubic feet of this fuel, and it was the single largest source of our electricity, accounting for 32 percent all U.S. production. We are now on track to reach record-breaking production levels, and natural gas now makes up nearly one-third of the country’s electricity generation.
It is through low-emission natural gas and other fuel sources that we are expanding our economy, igniting job creation, and protecting our environment. What’s more, United States energy-related carbon emissions hit a 25-year low in 2017, a fact that can be directly linked to increased natural gas use for power generation.
The United States is now producing enough natural gas and other fuels to be on the verge of energy independence. This positive development is untying the hands of our elected leadership, and enabling it to conduct foreign policy in a way that advances this Nation and its allies’ interests.
We now have such an abundance of natural gas that, for the first time in six decades, we have become a net natural gas exporter. Today, there are two liquefied natural gas export facilities operating in the United States and another four under construction, plus ongoing expansion work.
We are already selling our natural gas to nearly 30 nations on five continents. Among these nations is India, which has entered into two long-term supply contracts with the United States’ Sabine Pass and Cove Point export facilities and plans on increasing its number of LNG import terminals from four to 15. This partnership prompted the creation of the United States-India Strategic Energy Taskforce this spring, and together our two countries remain committed to increasing energy security and facilitating energy innovation.
Poland, meanwhile, is the beneficiary of the reliability and affordability that American LNG offers thanks to a long-term supply contract with Sabine Pass. The storage of American natural gas will help Poland strengthen its overall energy security and resiliency through an expansion of its fuel source imports.
Yes, America is sharing its energy bounty with the world. And in so doing, we are empowering our friends, allies, and trading partners economically and energy-wise as well. This gives us the opportunity to share not only our energy but the technology and the know-how that unleashed our bounty in the first place. And that includes ways of making energy sources cleaner.
America’s energy success story has the power to encourage others to choose a similar path.
Across the world, there are billions of people who have never experienced the modern miracle of electricity and live in countries that are struggling to grow economically and free themselves of poverty and want. Imagine the good we can do by providing every willing nation with the tools to develop their own energy resources as responsibly as we have.
With American natural gas leading the way, we are not only advancing our energy and economic security, but our national security as well.
The most vital fuel of all, though, is not found in the ground but in us. So long as we support that great fuel of innovation, the future will remain bright indeed for American energy, America’s economy, and America’s position abroad.
Rick Perry is the U.S. Secretary of Energy. This op-ed appeared in the Washington Examiner on June 25, 2018.