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Remarks as Prepared for Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette

American Gas Association Executive Conference

October 13, 2020

(Remarks shortened for delivery)

 

Good afternoon.

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in-person today, but I am pleased to have the chance to address the AGA’s executive conference about the critical issues facing the industry.  

Before I begin….I’d like to thank AGA President Karen Harbert for her participation in the Department of Energy's Natural Gas Summit, which we hosted just a few weeks ago.

Karen and the other participants did a wonderful job highlighting the importance of building upon our natural gas success story because of its consumer and energy security benefits.

In fact, it was Karen who pointed out that 180 million Americans – more than half our population – use natural gas in their homes every day.

And that usage keeps more money in the pockets of hardworking families.

The White House Council of Economic Advisors recently found that natural gas provides approximately 2,500 dollars in annual savings for a family of four.

And, of course, there are millions of Americans who work across the various points of the natural gas value chain, from exploration and production to transport and delivery. 

Natural gas and America’s energy renaissance – the shale revolution as some call it – brought immense economic benefits to regions of the country hit the hardest by the recession of the mid-2000s.

Texas, the Dakotas, the Appalachia region, New Mexico…. all experienced job and wage growth because of the opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Today, in regions that embrace natural gas production and develop the infrastructure to deliver it to homes and businesses, consumers enjoy energy choice and affordability, as well as reliability.

As the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas advances clean energy and emissions reduction goals.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the use of natural gas is driving down emissions, and projections show that this year emissions will decline to below 1992 levels.

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But despite these obvious benefits, there are those who remain stubbornly resistant to natural gas as an energy source.

This resistance takes many forms.

In some cases, we see blockage and cancellation of the infrastructure necessary to move natural gas to regions that desire it.

In others, we see blanket bans on fuel sources that are deemed “bad” by those in power.

The results are not surprising.

Families in the Northeast, where natural gas pipelines are few and far between, pay 44% more for residential electricity than other regions.

California is rushing toward 100% renewables and is having to buy out-of-state electricity to meet demand, causing California residents to pay some of the highest rates in the country and endure recent rolling blackouts.

In an interesting development, state regulators in California recently voted to extend the life of four natural gas plants that were slated for closure… so, it turns out that energy reliability and energy security become priorities when the lights are turned off. 

But by-far the most concerning resistance we see to natural gas as an energy source is the call to ban hydraulic fracturing  from certain extremists.

This would essentially end the natural gas industry as we know it, and with it… all the economic and consumer benefits we currently enjoy.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing account for about 97% of shale gas production.

A ban would send us back to the energy production dark ages.

And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighed in, warning that such a ban could eliminate 19 million jobs and reduce U.S. GDP by $7.1 trillion dollars by 2025.

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The Trump Administration and the Department of Energy are committed to ensuring natural gas holds a prominent place in our energy future.

To meet that commitment, DOE is developing critical next-generation technologies development, and I would like to highlight a few for you today.

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First, we are driving innovation in energy technologies that will work in concert to increase energy production while decrease environmental impact.

I’m talking about carbon capture, utilization, and storage, about enhanced oil and gas recovery, and about artificial intelligence tools to increase energy production across-the-board.

Our National Energy Technology Laboratory leads many of these efforts that are ultimately aimed at maximizing the production of our abundant energy resources to maintain energy dominance.

Developing and deploying cost-effective CCUS is key to the future of the oil and gas industry as the world continues moving toward a cleaner energy future.

At DOE we are investing in CCUS projects to promote economic growth, protect the environment, and enhance our energy security.

Since April alone we have committed more than $230 million dollars to those efforts.

And, as America accelerates the use of CCUS here at home, we create opportunities to export our technology and expertise abroad.

The artificial intelligence component of our energy tech portfolio is exciting, groundbreaking work.

We are developing ways to make sense of multiple large data sets and predict a well’s performance prior to drilling.

For producers, that means more information to make business decisions, and it means optimized oil and gas production and reduced environmental impacts.

These developments also show just how innovative and advanced the oil and gas industry is. 

We hear all the time about how renewables – wind and solar especially – are new and exciting and progressive.

Guess what?

The sun has been used as an energy source for thousands of years…and the Persians were using wind powered grain mills in the 6th century.

These things aren’t new.

Using AI algorithms to increase oil and gas production….that’s new!

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The next area is infrastructure development and improvement.

With more than 300,000 miles of natural gas pipeline spread across the country, reliable infrastructure is critical to the environment and the safe delivery of energy to homes and businesses.

The Department’s Natural Gas Infrastructure Program specifically focuses on:

- Developing next-generation pipeline materials;

- Advancing external leak detection; and

- Repairing pipeline damage without disruption of service.

Earlier this year, the Department announced $25 million dollars in funding opportunities to develop tools and technologies to enhance the safety and efficiency of the Nation’s natural gas storage and transmission infrastructure.

We will continue building on these efforts so Americans can continue to enjoy the benefits of safe natural gas delivery for generations to come.

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And, finally, we continue to aggressively promote LNG exports.

I recognize much of AGA’s focus is the domestic market, but global demand is another driver of a strong industry here at home.

We are in an enviable position.

Because of the great work of your companies, American natural gas production is so abundant that it allows us to meet domestic demand and pursue important LNG export opportunities.

We currently export LNG to 38 countries around the world, providing residents of those nations energy choice, reliability, and security.

And the Department recently approved two LNG export authorizations for facilities on the West Coast, one at Jordan Cove in Oregon; the other in Nikiski, Alaska.

When complete, both facilities will allow domestically produced LNG to reach key Asian markets, where many countries still rely heavily on Russia and the Middle East to meet their energy needs.

Promoting export opportunities advances global energy security, and the improved relationships from energy trade increase our national security as well.  

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As our investments in the industry show, AGA has a strong public-sector partner in this Administration’s Department of Energy.

We will keep advancing innovative energy technologies, infrastructure development, and export opportunities so that we may continue to reap the benefits of our abundant resources, both at home and abroad.

I look forward to continuing our work together as we strive toward our shared goal of securing a prominent place for natural gas in our nation’s energy future.

Thank you, and I hope to see you all again soon.

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