Nation’s Top Environmental Regulator: America Produces Natural Gas and Oil in “Much Cleaner Fashion” Than Rest of World

May 21, 2020

The greater production and shift towards domestic natural gas for use in power generation has helped the U.S. achieve significant environmental progress, America’s top environmental regulator recently said.

U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler discussed some of these achievements during an interview with Johnny Wharff, who hosts the weekly SOOGA Energy Insights on WMOA/WJAW radio show local to southeastern Ohio. 

A native Ohioan, Wheeler touched on air quality progress, how Ohio is contributing to the overall energy mix, and compares the environment now to when he was growing up in the Buckeye State.

The bottom line: “We produce our oil and natural gas in the United States in a much cleaner fashion than any other major exporter in the world,” he said. “The environmental indicators in Ohio are so much better, so much cleaner than when I was a child.”

Wheeler explained that the EPA measures six criteria for air pollutants in the United States, and our air is 74% cleaner today than it was in 1970.

These comments come as no surprise, with new Carnegie Mellon University data showing carbon intensity declined 36 percent nationwide compared to 2005. Over the past 15 years, carbon intensity has steadily declined as cleaner, more efficient electricity generation has come on the market.

Ohio is realizing these achievements at a faster pace than the rest of the nation because of oil and natural gas development, according to a recent Consumer Energy Alliance report. The report indicates that over a span of almost three decades, Ohio’s emissions of key pollutants have decreased at the same time natural gas production has increased. This includes:

  • 94% reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • 74% reduction in carbon monoxide (CO)
  • 72% reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • 66% reduction in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • 23% reduction in ammonia (NH3)
  • 21% reduction in coarse particulate matter (PM10)
  • 13% reduction in fine particulate matter (PM2.5)

“The fact that Ohio is once again a booming energy state,” Wheeler said, “they have the important resources for not only the country, but the world.”

While these achievements certainly deserve to be celebrated, there is always room for improvement, and Wheeler believes that improvement can be best observed by looking in the mirror:

“We have the lowest particulate matters in our air than any other industrialized country. We need to compare us to us, in order to get better – and we are getting better.

“It’s not just the EPA, it’s the combined efforts of the agencies, the states, local governments, industry, environmental groups – all together we have a lot to be proud of because our air, our water and our waste sites are much cleaner than they were 50 years ago.”