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 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)
  • 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.(9)
  • 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.
  • 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. (10)
    • 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 will rely on natural gas to support its growing wind power system. Low cost gas will make a renewable power strategy more affordable – and more feasible.
    • 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 2011, shale gas development created about 150,000 new jobs – about 9 percent of all job growth that year. By 2015, the industry expects to employ 1.5 million people.(11)
    • 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.(12)
    • 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.(13)

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.