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EPA, Energy Officials Tout Benefits of U.S. Shale Gas Boom

Praise for U.S. shale development continued to pile up this week from America’s top energy experts and regulators. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe participated in two separate roundtable discussions focusing on reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.

Moniz’s comments come after months of discussion between the Department of Energy, environmentalists, labor unions, NGOs and academics—where the focus was on natural gas transmission and distribution. The team announced a series of steps aimed at further reducing the already minimal methane leaks within the system. In summarizing the discussion, Moniz also touched on how natural gas plays into the U.S. energy portfolio from a macro level. From his interview with Politico:

“[I]n terms of CO2, there’s no question that market-driven gas substitution has been a tremendous contributor to our reduced CO2 emissions.”

Secretary Moniz has a long history of touting natural gas as a key component to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions; but it doesn’t end there for the nation’s top energy official. Moniz added:

“Our view, the administration’s view, my personal view, is that the gas revolution has had multiple benefits: CO2 benefits, obviously economic benefits, jobs benefits. On the economic benefits, it includes lower prices. We’re down below $4 again. But also, it is driving new manufacturing.”

Indeed, it’s not just the laundry list of benefits that shale is providing the United States. The way industry has joined with other key stakeholders in developing next steps for the U.S. energy revolution is truly commendable. Secretary Moniz agrees. When asked how company representatives addressed the issues he presented, Moniz said that the collaborative discussions gave him high hopes:

“It has been fantastic, to be honest, to see the companies being very, very interactive and reciprotory, and, in fact, today reinforcing their commitments and reinforcing also their partnerships. The partnerships between labor, industry and regulators came up very, very often … It was one of the best processes I’ve seen, to be honest.”

Meanwhile, EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe echoed many of Moniz’s remarks. During the American Gas Association’s Natural Gas Roundtable event, McCabe said: “Oil and gas resources have great potential to help this country spur economic growth…while reducing GHG emissions.”

In fact, according to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the increased use of natural gas has been key to cutting GHG emissions. As McCarthy stated in December 2013, “natural gas has been a game changer with our ability to really move forward with pollution reductions that have been very hard to get our arms around for many decades.” Not only is shale improving air quality, but because of horizontal drilling, operators are able to access more resources with a far smaller impact. As Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel stated in October 2013, “by using directional drilling and fracking, we have an opportunity to have a softer footprint on the land.”

As these officials make clear, shale will continue to play a central role in the U.S. energy portfolio, all while heralding in numerous economic and environmental benefits.

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