Let’s Find Common Ground on America’s Energy Future

Let’s Find Common Ground on America’s Energy Future
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In a world that feels increasingly polarized each day, it’s more essential than ever to find common ground with those who view the world through a different lens. The current debate over infrastructure and energy legislation in Congress has underscored this chasm, as advocates on either side have grown increasingly opposed in their arguments.

Despite this contentious environment and contrary to popular belief, the natural gas industry, environmental groups and other energy-sector stakeholders have more they agree on than it may seem at first glance. While the best path forward is debatable, we all believe in the importance of reducing emissions, protecting the environment and leveraging innovation to achieve a more efficient energy mix.

Reducing Emissions & America’s Carbon Footprint

We all recognize the importance and urgency behind reducing methane and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Cooperation between natural gas, solar and wind energy sources can make sustainable carbon footprint reductions possible. According to a recent EPA report, methane emissions decreased 15% thanks to a record drop in the use of coal for electrical generation, largely offset by the transition to natural gas, solar and wind generation. In addition to this net emissions reduction, when natural gas is used directly to run appliances, more than 90% of the energy from the original source can be utilized at the point of use.

Solar and wind aren’t ready to meet our nation’s energy needs on their own; they currently provide just 3% of the nation’s energy. They also aren’t as reliable as traditional sources of energy, as they depend on the wind blowing and the sun shining to perform. However, complemented by the nation’s abundant natural gas supply, resilient distribution system and heightened weatherization efforts, we can ensure an efficient, affordable and reliable energy mix. 

Protecting the Environment

Natural gas industry leaders and environmentalists can also agree on the importance of protecting the health of our environment through safe, practical means.

Every form of energy has some sort of environmental impact. Production of solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries takes an extraordinary amount of resources; the blades on a single five megawatt wind turbine alone contain more plastic than 5 million smartphones. Additionally, a rapid expansion of solar and wind sources and an associated surge in battery production would create an unprecedented increase in mining — exacerbating existing environmental and labor challenges across the world while dramatically increasing America’s dependence on foreign countries in the energy supply chain. 

On the other hand, despite reducing methane emissions across the natural gas distribution system by 69% since 1990, the industry continues to improve operational efficiency here in the U.S. and invest in hydrogen and renewable natural gas (RNG).

Securing a Sustainable Renewable Energy Future

Stakeholders across the energy sector want to do their part in reaching a greener, cleaner energy future. However, despite this increasing acknowledgement, another widely overlooked crisis continues to proliferate before our very eyes: landfills. While a growing focus on sustainability and recycling has shifted the way we manage waste, Americans still create over 258 million tons of municipal solid waste per year. This waste is generally burned, generating approximately 17.7% of all methane emissions in the U.S. — a reality that simply isn’t environmentally or economically feasible. RNG, also known as biogas, holds the potential to revolutionize the energy sector by reducing pollution and converting landfill and other waste into usable energy. 

RNG allows us to pursue a renewable energy future that takes advantage of the remarkably safe, efficient and reliable natural gas delivery system and doesn’t sacrifice consumers’ freedom of energy choice. Among other utilities, San Antonio’s CPS Energy has made its mark as a leader in natural gas innovations in alignment with the city’s goal of full carbon neutrality by 2050. By working together, wind and solar advocates and the natural gas industry can find a “sweet spot” for meeting the nation’s climate goals without sacrificing American energy reliability.

Getting There Together 

Ending the finger-pointing and back and forth to find common ground can help the wind and solar sectors and the natural gas industry come together to maintain energy options for consumers while minimizing the industry’s emissions footprint. As Congress continues to focus on energy solutions that protect our climate, leaders on both sides must come together to engage in honest, productive conversations focused on our most pressing energy challenges. Together, we can chart a path forward that grants customers freedom of choice, ensures a reliable energy system and protects the environment. We can do far more for our nation and our planet by coming together than we can by remaining apart.


Dave Schryver serves as president and CEO of the American Public Gas Association, representing more than 700 municipally-owned natural gas systems in 38 states. 

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