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Remarks by Secretary Brouillette

2020 Shale Insight Conference

Marcellus Shale Coalition

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Thank you, Steve, for that kind introduction and for your strong leadership of the Department’s Office of Fossil Energy.

I’d also like to thank Dave Spigelmyer and the Marcellus Shale Coalition for hosting this great event showcasing the importance of a robust American gas industry and the immense benefit it brings to the this region, to our entire country, and to the world. 

Dave, it was great being with you last week in Pittsburgh with our American workers – from the steam fitters to the boilermakers – who make it all happen.

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As we gather today, we continue to face a host of challenges triggered by COVID-19.

But I’m here to tell you we are meeting these challenges head-on at every turn. 

Under President Trump’s leadership, we see jobs returning and energy prices stabilizing as we reopen our economy safely and responsibly.

We see our nation on a path to revival and recovery. 

Prior to COVID-19, we went from being a nation that was dangerously dependent on foreign suppliers to an energy powerhouse dominating the world stage. 

We unleashed a shale revolution that made us the world’s leading oil producer, its leading natural gas producer, and a net LNG exporter for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This revolution helped make our manufacturing competitive again. 

And according to energy expert Dan Yergin, using 2007 as a base year, this revolution made our trade deficit last year $309 billion lower than if it never occurred. 

As we look ahead, we see unmistakable opportunities to build on our phenomenal energy success story.

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But here’s the point I’d like to stress to you today.

In order to realize these opportunities, we must continue to do what we’ve been doing on energy policy.

We must continue removing unnecessary regulations on energy.

We must keep making innovation the cornerstone of our strategy. 

And we must firmly oppose those who would replace our policies with programs that deny the results of these innovations.

I’m referring to programs that would manage, ration, suppress, or even ban certain forms of energy, like natural gas, along with vital technologies like hydraulic fracturing.

I’m talking about proposals to wipe out every form of energy besides renewables.

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Now in order to counter these ideas effectively, it’s imperative that we understand the mindset of those who are proposing them.

They continue to operate from a mindset of scarcity rather than abundance, and from radicalism as opposed to reality.

They believe resources are limited and that people are a drain on resources and a burden to our environment.

In their heart of hearts, they believe people are the problem when in fact we’re the solution.

They seem to forget that we don’t just consume resources; we create them by applying our innovative talents to material things that previously had no value.

The implications are remarkable.

Even when resources appear to be dwindling, we can harness innovation either to create new ones or to produce more of the old ones more affordably, and in a way that benefits our environment.

This is incredibly important for our country to realize -- and the best real life example I can give you is our shale revolution.

How many of you remember when, less than a generation ago, people were wringing their hands about “peak oil?” 

Back then, we had plenty of shale reserves, but naysayers insisted that we throw up our hands and give up because the technology wasn’t there to extract them affordably - if at all.

Their mistake, of course, was to assume that technology is stagnant.

They were presuming that the human capacity to innovate had come to a sudden halt and for no apparent reason.

We all know what happened next. 

We witnessed Americans doing what we do best – innovating.

We saw refinements and cost reductions in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, and the rest, as they say, is history.

That’s a critical lesson to remember, not just for energy production but for energy delivery, which as you all know is one of our biggest challenges today.

For America’s energy security rests on our ability to take what we produce and deliver it reliably and affordably to consumers.

Just ask the people in New England, who pay 60% more in electricity prices than the national average.

In the winter of 2018, New Englanders actually were importing Russian natural gas.

The problem was clear.

While one-third of U.S. natural gas comes out of the Marcellus basin in Pennsylvania, this normally affordable resource is unable to reach New England since the State of New York is blocking the way.

In New York and in parts of New England, the same people who support only renewables also oppose building new pipelines to bring much-needed natural gas to consumers.

And because the same opposition is occurring in California, its people pay 46% more in electricity prices than the national average and continue to experience rolling blackouts even as I speak.

***

Imagine if the entire nation adopted such policies.

At stake is not only the availability of reliable and affordable electricity, but the strength of our economy and the jobs of millions of our fellow Americans.

From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, pipelines and wells provide thousands of jobs and billions in economic revenue to the Commonwealth.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the same technology that made Pennsylvania an energy powerhouse, would eliminate 19 million jobs and reduce U.S. GDP by $7.1 trillion by 2025.

Yes, you heard that correctly. 

If the innovative technology that got us through peak oil were banned, 19 million Americans would eventually lose their jobs.

That staggering figure would include over 600,000 lost in Pennsylvania and 700,000 in Ohio.

Make no mistake.

These actions would not only harm our economic security, but our national security, forcing more Americans to rely on the mercy of unfriendly powers like Moscow.

And the irony is, these policies are not just harmful; they are unworkable and unnecessary.

As Dan Yergin points out, the world now depends on fossil fuels for 84% of its energy.

***

What’s more, energy transitions take time.

It took a century from when oil was discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859 until it became the world’s leading energy resource in the 1960’s.

The good news is that our nation has a big advantage in the next energy transition.

Not only do we have a culture and a history of innovation, we have an entire innovation ecosystem… one that includes our National Labs, our universities, and our private sector partners.

America’s innovators are driving advances across an astounding range of fields, including carbon capture and storage technologies, materials science, nuclear energy, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

The results are clear.

Compare our record to that of any nation that embraced the Paris Accord.

The United States is leading every one of them, as well as the rest of the world, in reducing energy-related carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, year after year, China contributes the lion’s share of these emissions, 28% of the world’s total as of last year, nearly double that of the United States.

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So how have we done it?

Through innovation, we’ve taken sources like renewables and nuclear energy that are already clean and we’ve increased their generation.

We’ve taken natural gas, our cleanest fossil fuel, and we’ve produced it in record abundance.

We’ve taken sources like coal and we’ve made them cleaner.

And we are well on our way to developing fossil fuel technologies that can actually produce zero-emissions energy.

Rather than driving out fuels which produce emissions, we are driving down emissions as we produce those same fuels.

That’s what innovation does.

***

Clearly, as we emerge from the shadows of COVID-19, we must ensure our energy delivery and our security.

The President has already signed Executive Orders to streamline the development of energy infrastructure projects at the federal level.

And he continues to support ALL of our incredible energy industries, including the gas sector.

***

As we look to the future, we must continue to pursue innovation-driven policies that work, while countering regulation-driven prescriptions that do not.

We are determined to work for the American people, guided by the following truths.

First, there’s no reason to ban a single fuel we have, the technology to produce it, or the means to deliver it.

Through innovation, we can produce every fuel safely while lowering emissions.

Second, rather than banning our fuels, we need to keep using every one of them so we can remain competitive in the global marketplace.

And last but not least, we must put our trust and our confidence in the ingenuity, the creativity, and the character of the American people.

We must trust that as Americans we will do what we’ve always done – innovate our way through every challenge.

That’s what drives our policies – and that’s what brightens our future.

Thank you.

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