Benefits of Domestic Gas Supply

 

In just a few years, the presence of shale gas has turned the nation’s energy picture around. In 2006, the nation was worried about a lack of gas supplies, rising prices and the possibility that we would rely on foreign nations for natural gas.

Today, the situation has been reversed. New technology has made development of shale gas not only possible – but affordable. The United States is the world's number one natural gas producer. The result is an abundance of low-cost natural gas that is bringing substantial benefits to the nation in unexpected ways.

The benefits of abundant shale gas are:

  • Low costs for every energy consumer. Because of falling natural gas prices, NW Natural’s residential customer rates are lower than they were in 2004. A recent study estimates Americans will add $2,700 to their household annual income by 2020 from the savings resulting from lower gas costs. (8) And families who use natural gas to heat their homes and water and dry their clothes save nearly $900 a year compared to those in all-electric houses. (9)
  • An economic boost. A recent study estimates the promise of low gas costs could create up to 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the year 2025. That’s because low energy costs are making it more profitable to run manufacturing processes. Companies like Bayer Co. and Formosa Plastics have moved operations back to this country or announced expansion plans to take advantage of gas prices.(10)
  • Energy independence. For years, we have relied on international sources – from some of the world’s most volatile areas – for oil. Low-cost natural gas is focusing attention on the potential of natural gas in vehicles – from large trucks to personal cars to ships – and away from petroleum products. For example, about 17 percent of public transportation vehicles run on natural gas.
  • A cleaner environment. We’ve known of the environmental benefits of natural gas for many years. Now, with its strong price advantage, it is coming into its own as a pathway toward cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Lower natural gas costs were a major contributing factor to a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over a two-year period. EPA reported that a switch from coal to natural gas for electricity production, along with a slight reduction in electricity use. (11) Greenhouse gas emissions are their lowest in 25 years. (12)
    • The environmental advantage of natural gas isn't limited to greenhouse gases. Production of carbon monoxide, ozone, lead and other major pollutants have fallen substantially since 2000, while natural gas use has increased by more than 43 percent.
    • Our region is committed to developing renewable resources. Because the wind doesn’t blow all the time in the Northwest, we need a power source that can turn on and off quickly – ensuring that we have a steady flow of electricity. That’s where natural gas comes in. Increasingly, our region relies on natural gas to support its growing wind power system. A recent survey of 26 nations showed that natural gas and renewable sources increase at a rate of nearly one to one. Low cost gas will make a renewable power strategy more affordable – and more feasible. (13)
    • Natural gas is a great alternative for transportation – and cleaner air. It emits far less carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants than diesel or gasoline.
     
  • Other economic benefits. Because natural gas is produced in this country, we are keeping money in the U.S. that otherwise would be going overseas. Some economic benefits of the shale gas industry are:
    • In 2015, the natural gas industry employed Americans in about 1.9 millions jobs, and it expected to add over 3.5 million more by 2035. (14)
    • Shale gas contributed more than $75.9 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2010 and is projected to contribute $118.2 billion in 2015. (15)
    • Over the next 25 years, the shale gas industry will generate more than $933 billion in tax revenues for local, state and the federal governments. (16) 
     
  • Footnotes—NW Natural has not performed its own scientific or economic research on the impacts of fracking or gas production practices. The information in this section is derived from publicly available reports, studies and periodicals.