Celebrating the Environmental Gains Made with Ohio Natural Gas

April 28, 2020

By Greg Mason


Earth Day celebrations came in a different form than the first parade fifty years ago, but the achievements gained thanks to natural gas are meaningful and important to celebrate.


As a young geologist marching in the first Earth Day parades, those celebrations were an opportunity to come together and collaborate on how our society can conserve, invent, and discover new ways to use Earth’s natural resources for economic and environmental gain.


In studying the history of our planet, its formation, the structure of materials that make up Earth, it’s incredible to see the ways in which natural gas and oil produced from wells, metals produced from mines, and water drawn from underground make modern life possible.


And it’s these natural resources, particularly natural gas produced from Ohio’s Utica Shale, that are delivering clean air progress. In 2019 the U.S. led growth for natural gas demand, and the latest data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows the largest decline in net greenhouse gas emissions of 10 percent between 2005 and 2018. This is the most drastic decline by any country over the last 20 years, reflecting long-term trends in many factors including population, rapid economic growth, energy markets, technological advances, energy efficiency and energy fuel choices, many of which can be attributed to the increased use of Ohio-produced clean natural gas for power generation.


Natural gas has been touted by the EPA as a game-changer in America’s ability to mitigate air pollution while supplying homes and businesses with affordable, efficient and reliable energy. Last year, Ohio, the nation’s fifth largest natural gas producer, developed enough natural gas to heat over 1 million homes, businesses, schools, churches, hospitals and manufacturers.


Buildings in Cleveland and Akron have switched to clean-burning natural gas to help reduce cities’ carbon dioxide emissions. They’re part of a growing list of Ohio cities, along with college and business campuses, turning to higher efficiency natural gas boilers.


Thanks to natural gas, in fact, Ohio air emissions have declined faster than the national average, according to a recent Consumer Energy Alliance report. Since 1990, Ohio’s emissions have consistently been on decline, while our state’s economy expanded at a significant pace.


This energy production leadership continues to drive air quality gains while delivering consumer home energy savings, upwards of $30 million per year, and meaningful economic gains.


Ohio shale development supports more than 200,000 good-paying jobs and accounts for more than $730 million in annual salaries and personal income.


These aren’t just big impressive numbers. For many communities, these jobs have helped to provide a better life for families and opened doors to new opportunities. Shale producers innovate and invest back in communities too – our infrastructure, roads, bridges, parks, scholarship funds for students – they are a vital member of our society.


Nearly all natural gas consumed in the U.S. was produced domestically; Ohio energy adds to the national supply and helps to keep prices in balance, while also helping the U.S. to remain independent form foreign energy supplies.


During uncertain times, it’s even more critical to ensure that Americans can rely on a dependable, consistent energy supply to maintain our essential businesses.


The use of natural gas goes beyond switching the light and turning on the stovetop. More than 6,000 everyday products that we rely on are made of refined natural gas and crude oil. That includes medicines, personal care products, clothes, detergent, electronics, plastics, toys – pretty much everything that helps us maintain our modern lifestyle.


Following stringent regulations, at state and federal levels, and high industry standards, Ohio shale producers develop energy responsibly, while prioritizing the health and safety of employees and communities. Best practices from natural gas and oil production conserve land and numerous studies, including one form the University of Cincinnati, continue to find no evidence of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing.


Let Earth Day be the reason that brings us together to celebrate the ways in which natural gas continues to deliver environmental progress.


Greg is a Certified Petroleum Geologist with 40 years of experience in prospect development, drilling and completion procedures in the Appalachian Basin, is the interim executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.  He is a past adviser to the Secretary of Energy on research matters concerning Unconventional Resources Development in the United States.