Highlighted by an oil/natural gas "renaissance" and an unparalleled infrastructure buildout, the U.S. energy sector is now a world leader, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API), which included contributions from trade associations for all of the nation's major energy sources.
Both the report and an accompanying presentation by API CEO Jack Gerard downplayed falling global oil prices and potential climate change regulations in supporting an upbeat future for the U.S. energy sector. However, Gerard made it clear that a new, bipartisan political approach in Washington, DC, will be needed for the nation to fulfill this newfound energy potential.
While calling energy "inseparable from America's economic growth and job creation," Gerard said oil and gas are only part of an American energy story that is now filled with opportunity for a truly "all-of-the-above" energy strategy. In a speech in Washington, DC, that coincided with the introduction of the report, Gerard said the current worldwide need for all energy forms represents "an American moment."
To capture the full economic advantages of this "once-in-a-generation opportunity," Gerard urged Congress and the Obama administration to take a bipartisan approach to U.S. energy policy, including eliminating restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports and approving the long-stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline among other moves that API has long championed.
In a news conference following his remarks, Gerard predicted that energy will be an increasingly important national policy issue. An example is that both the Obama administration and the new Republican majority in both houses of Congress can take action to boost liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil exports, he said.
Gerard said American political leaders need to help get over the old mindset of "scarcity and dependence" regarding energy and begin operating from a perspective of "abundance and worldwide energy leadership."
In response to questions about the impact on today's falling oil prices, Gerard said there will be "adjustments in the industry" for some period of time, but longer term there will be an opportunity for the U.S. to become the world's "superpower" in energy.
API released a 29-page "2015 American Energy" report, featuring sections on nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, coal-fired electric generation, biomass and energy efficiency, along with its more typical emphasis on oil and natural gas. It also included a special section on infrastructure, calling it "vital to a dependable supply chain" for reliability, economic growth and energy security.
The report and Gerard's remarks called for future energy policies that "embrace natural gas," of which the United States now exceeds Russia as the world's top producer. Citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration, API's report said "natural gas is projected to be an even more significant part of the country's energy mix in the years to come."
Gerard cited this as another incentive for the Obama administration to support increased LNG exports as a means of further boosting the U.S. economy and good-paying domestic jobs.