Oil & Gas Careers: High Paying and In Demand

Oilprice.com recently published a rather ominous article headlined “Oil Industry Faces Imminent Talent Crisis.” That headline was prompted by a survey by an energy recruitment company that found nearly half of the exploration and production firms that responded were “either quite worried or very worried about an impending talent crisis.”

The concern can be traced to a harsh reality with regard to millennials and their general attitudes toward the oil and gas industry: Young people believe we are quickly transitioning away from fossil fuels and that the future of the industry is bleak. As a result, fewer young people are pursuing oil and gas industry careers. But the facts simply do not support the impetus for this trend.

Oil and natural gas consumption is projected to increase by more than 20 percent over the next 30 years, which explains why oil and natural gas careers are not only in high demand – but pay twice the private sector average salary.

Here are some facts that young people entering the workforce should consider:

  • The average oil and natural gas industry salary was $112,712 in 2018.
  • Three of the top six highest paying majors are directly tied to the oil and gas industry.
  • The top 10 highest starting salaries are in occupations directly or indirectly tied to oil and gas.
  • The oil and gas extraction industry was the fastest growing sector in 2018.
  • The U.S. oil and gas industry supports more than 10 million American jobs.
  • There are more than 75 different careers in the oil and gas industry.

Contrary to popular public perception, the future of oil and natural gas careers is very bright. Check out IPRB’s new Oil and Natural Gas Careers “By the Numbers” infographic for more facts on oil and natural gas careers.

 


Data Show Oil and Gas Have Greatly Benefited Humanity

Opponents of the oil and natural gas industry have stepped up their hyperbolic rhetoric of late. One prominent “Keep It In the Ground” media figure has gone so far as to claim the industry will “fatally injure the whole freaking planet,” while the Natural Resources Defense Council has claimed fossil fuels have “exacted an enormous toll on humanity.”

The latest real-world data tell a far different tale, showing that global extreme poverty has declined dramatically and life expectancy has more than doubled as use of oil and natural gas have skyrocketed over the past 100-plus years.

As the above IPRB charts show, the latest World Bank data show that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has declined from more than 80 percent in the late 1800s to less than 10 percent in 2015 – the lowest percentage on record. At the same time, oil and natural gas consumption has gone from almost nothing to being the primary energy source in the world (increasing 11,472 percent, to be specific). Not coincidentally, the average global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900.

It is not difficult to surmise why extreme poverty has declined and life expectancy has increased at the same time that oil and natural gas use has skyrocketed.

Extreme poverty can be traced to lack of access to modern energy – most notably electricity – which most of us take for granted. Fossil fuels not only provide electricity, they provide critical home heating and cooling, clean water, food production and transportation. These modern conveniences have improved the quality of life in the United States and other fortunate developed countries, leading directly to increased economic opportunity, a better quality of life and longer lives, in general.

Perhaps most importantly, countless modern healthcare technologies and devices – and access to quality medical care – would not be possible without oil and natural gas.

These are just a few facts we should keep in mind when key political figures claim, “I guarantee you we’re gonna end fossil fuel.”


Fact Sheet: Hydraulic Fracturing No. 1 Reason U.S. Leads World in CO2 Reductions

Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE) hosted a “Get Off Fossil Fuels Festival” in Carbondale on Sunday as part of nationwide “Climate Week” activities aimed at addressing global warming.

So what is SAFE’s proposed climate change solution? Ironically, based on this WSIL-TV interview, it’s pushing for the elimination the very technology that has enabled the United States to lead the world in carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions this century. The Carbondale event served as a petition drive to ban hydraulic fracturing ("fracking) in Illinois, an action that would do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions. From the interview:

“The groups want Illinois to become the fifth state to ban fracking, something they say Governor JB Pritzker alluded to in his campaign. Organizer, Rich Whitney, says thousands have already signed their petition.”

Whitney told WSIL:

“’We're partnering with groups like Food and Water Watch and other groups that are helping in this effort. So, we’re confident that over the next couple of months we should be able to turn in thousands and thousands of signatures to Governor Pritzker to send this message: ‘Hey, let’s take care; let’s get off fossil fuels in Illinois.’”

Not only would a hydraulic fracturing ban – both at the state and/or federal level – prove to be an economic disaster, it would likely lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. And you don’t have to take our word for it.

As the following new IPRB fact sheet illustrates, numerous experts, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), International Energy Agency (IEA) and U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), credit increased natural gas use in the United States – made possible by fracking – for most of our country’s world-leading CO2 reductions over the past 15-plus years.

Even the Environmental Defense Fund – hardly an industry cheerleader – recently largely credited increased natural gas use for dramatic declines in CO2 emissions from electricity generation in recent years.

“Our analysis, published in Environmental Research Letters used an approach called index decomposition analysis and found that natural gas substituting for coal and petroleum coupled with large increases in renewable energy generation —primarily wind — were responsible for 60% and 30%, respectively, of the decline in CO2 emissions from the U.S. power sector between 2005 and 2015.”

Hydraulic fracturing has been safely used to complete vertical wells in the Illinois Basin for decades. More recently, it’s been applied to horizontal wells in places like the Permian, Williston and Appalachian basins to help the United States re-emerge as the world leader in oil and natural gas production.

Not only has the latter development strengthened our economy and enhanced our energy security – the recent attack on Saudi Arabian oil processing facility is just the latest example of the latter – it has helped the United States significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing cheap and plentiful natural gas to replace higher-emitting fuels.

In the meantime, China has seen its CO2 emissions nearly triple. One would think that would be the focus of “Keep It In the Ground” groups such as SAFE, but they seem more intent on trying to destroy a local oil and gas industry that provides more than 14,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact.


Fracking ban would devastate economy, yield no climate benefits

Several presidential candidates have promised to ban hydraulic fracturing, a technology that is a major reason the United States leads the world in carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions this century, has enjoyed an unprecedented 10 consecutive years of economic growth and is on the brink of long-coveted energy independence. A fracking ban would likely reverse all of these trends, which is why International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol’s view that such a policy “would not be good news” for the United States is a massive understatement.

Read the full Southern Illinoisan op-ed here.


Important Context on Illinois Oil & Gas Production Methane Emissions

The Trump administration’s proposed revisions to Obama-era methane regulations on oil and natural gas systems received a lot of alarmist media coverage last week. But lost amidst all the ominous headlines from regional outlets were some largely overlooked key facts regarding emissions from the Illinois oil production industry and the adverse impact direct methane emission regulations would pose in the Land of Lincoln.

First and foremost, Illinois oil and natural gas production methane emissions – by any reasonable estimate – are negligible, likely accounting for less than .5 percent of overall U.S. oil and natural gas system methane emissions, as the following IPRB chart based on the most recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data illustrates.

It’s not difficult to surmise why Illinois oil and natural gas methane emissions are inconsequential in the big picture. Illinois oil production accounts for less than one percent of total U.S. production and there is very little natural gas production in the state. Natural gas production accounts for more than half of overall U.S. oil and natural gas system methane emissions, according to the EPA.

As a soon-to-be-released Department of Energy methane report including the Illinois Basin will likely confirm, Illinois oil and natural gas methane emissions pose little to no climate change threat.

But in sharp contrast, direct methane regulations on the small, independent operators that dominate the Land of Lincoln would almost certainly adversely affect a local industry that is responsible for 14,000 Illinois jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact.

Nearly half of Illinois oil production industry workers are independent owner/operators or independent contractors, while 83 percent of exploration and production firms with payroll have 10 or fewer employees. In other words – the Illinois industry is anything but “Big Oil.” Case in point: more than 90 percent of Illinois oil wells are “stripper” wells that produce one to two barrels per day.

The small operators most prevalent in the Illinois Basin would be adversely affected by requirements to purchase expensive equipment such as infrared cameras necessary to monitor methane leaks. These added costs could potentially force small operators to shut their doors altogether, or at the very least, shut down many of the state’s low-producing wells that provide royalty income to more than 30,000 – all while achieving virtually no climate benefit.

Of course, climate change is a global issue, so we would be remiss not to bring some global context to the discussion.

With regard to oil-related emissions specifically, overall U.S. petroleum system methane emissions are also low and have decreased significantly even as domestic production has skyrocketed. In fact, the most recent EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows that U.S. petroleum system methane emissions represent just .58 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, even when taking into account methane’s radiative forcing compared to carbon dioxide (25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year time frame).

U.S. petroleum system methane emissions also represented just 5.7 percent of overall U.S. man-made methane emissions in 2017, and have declined 9.4 percent since 2013 at same time U.S. oil production increased 25 percent.

A recent Gas Technology Institute Center for Methane Research report also finds that just 12.4 percent of global methane emissions are attributable to oil and natural gas production. The report – based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI), the 2016 Global Carbon Project’s Methane Budget and the 2017 EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory – finds that methane emissions from the U.S. natural gas industry specifically accounted for just 1.2 percent of global methane emissions in 2016.

And that small piece of the global pie is only getting smaller.

The EPA and Energy Information Administration find that methane emissions from onshore U.S. oil and natural gas production fell 24 percent from 2011 to 2017 while oil and natural gas production rose 65 percent and 19 percent. A recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study also finds there has been “major overestimation” of industry’s methane emissions in some previous studies.

One under-reported reason U.S. oil and natural gas system methane emissions continue to decline is a 2012 EPA rule limiting volatile organic compound emissions (VOCs) from new and modified infrastructure. That rule effectively regulates methane, which is co-emitted along with VOCs – and it remains in place.

To be clear, methane emissions can and should be reduced as much as possible. But contrary to some recent media coverage, the industry  has been doing exactly that in recent years, and oil and natural gas methane emissions – particularly in Illinois – represent a very small sliver of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump administration’s proposed revisions to the Obama administration’s methane rule are unlikely to reverse those positive trends.


Report: Illinois Oil & Gas Reserves Generated $89M in Property Tax Revenue From 2007-2017

Many Illinoisans may not be aware that the state’s active oil and natural gas production leases are assessed and taxed as real estate, similar to property taxes paid on a residential home. All of the revenue collected from this tax – known as an ad valorem tax – stays at the local level and goes directly to support the areas where oil is produced, including counties, villages, townships, cities, and – most importantly – local schools.

An IPRB review of the latest Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR) data shows that Illinois oil reserves generated $89.17 million in ad valorem tax revenue from 2007 to 2017. IPRB details this revenue in a new report that can be downloaded here.

Typically, at least half of ad valorem property tax revenue is used to fund public education, while the remaining monies are used to fund various local public services. That fact noted, IPRB conservatively estimates that Illinois oil reserves generated at least $44.5 million in ad valorem tax revenue for schools in producing counties from 2007-2017. This revenue is all the more significant considering Illinois public schools were woefully underfunded by the state during this time frame, placing even more burden at the local level.

Ad valorem tax revenue from Illinois oil production has a particularly significant impact in major producing counties. DOR data show that ad valorem tax revenue in Illinois’ top-15 oil producing counties totaled $79 million from 2007-2017.

IPRB conservatively estimates that at least $39.5 million of that revenue went to public schools in those top-15 producing counties.

It is important to note that many of these counties have relatively small populations and are relatively poor compared to many other state counties and the state as a whole. In fact, all but one of Illinois’ top oil producing counties (Crawford) have poverty rates that are higher than the national average – adding even more significance to the ad valorem tax revenue generated by oil and natural gas reserves in these counties. Just two percent of Illinois' overall population resides in these top-15 producing counties, which are responsible for 90 percent of Illinois oil production.

Here are county-level breakdowns for Illinois' top-15 producing counties featured in IPRB’s report:

It is important to understand that these taxes are based on estimates of oil and gas reserves remaining in the ground, not oil and natural gas produced. The annual ad valorem tax bill that operators and royalty owners receive is also based on data that is over two years old. For example, ad valorem taxes paid in 2017 were based on a 2016 assessment of active leases that is calculated using 2015 production totals. There are also reductions for leases based upon lease age, secondary recovery methods used and production.

As complicated as the ad valorem tax calculation system may be, it is clear that these taxes are generating significant revenues in the communities where they operate, specifically for local schools.

 


Debunking SAFE’s False ‘Subsurface Trespass’ Narrative

Note: This blog was updated with supplemental information at 11:17 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2019

Proposed “Keep It In the Ground” legislation aimed at addressing a problem that doesn’t exist in Illinois – so-called “subsurface trespass” via horizontal drilling – failed to advance out of committee during the spring legislative session.

But that hasn’t kept Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE) from attempting to keep this false controversy alive with a tried and true two-pronged approach: frivolous litigation and misleading claims in the media.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article over the weekend prompted by the latest court proceedings of a now five-years-old SAFE-led lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The litigation is aimed at effectively voiding the 2013 Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act based on SAFE’s contention that the regulation is unconstitutional.

If you forgot about that lawsuit and would like details on what transpired at last week’s hearing, don’t bother reading the Post-Dispatch story. The piece served more as a platform for SAFE attorney Vito Mastrangelo to advance “subsurface trespass” misinformation than a recap of the hearing.

In a key excerpt from the piece, Mastrangelo claims that,

“They (drilling companies) will be drilling under land that they did not even notify people of. People can have their land drilled through and their mineral rights taken without even being given notice.”

Mastrangelo’s statement has no basis in reality. Illinois regulators require exploration and production companies to disclose the location and track of all horizontal well bores as part of the permitting process prior to giving the green light to drill. Simply stated: Illinois landowners are fully aware if a horizontal well is drilled beneath their property. Companies are also required to secure subsurface mineral leases for the entire planned horizontal path before drilling commences.

Specifically, the Illinois Oil and Gas Act (224 ILCS 725/6(2)) requires the developer of a horizontal well to certify under penalties of perjury that oil and gas leases have been obtained from all of the mineral owners as to all of the lands along the path of a horizontal well or that the interests have been committed to the drilling unit with an applicable statutory or administrative proceeding. Under any of these circumstances, the owner of the oil and gas rights would receive notice as to the proposed well.

Furthermore, once a horizontal well is developed and production is obtained, the oil will be sold to an oil purchaser or refinery. Any purchaser or refinery will carefully review the public lands records to determine the ownership of all of the oil interests in order to confirm that payment is being correctly undertaken. This would include a careful review and documentation of all interest and the fact that they have been committed to the drilling unit. Unless this due diligence is undertaken, the purchasers or refineries would be liable for any incorrect payment.

These protocols ensure that mineral owners are compensated for every square inch that a horizontal drill bit touched prior to a well being developed.

It is for these reasons that “subsurface trespass” has never been – and will likely never will be – an issue in Illinois, where dozens of horizontal wells have been drilled. Mastrangelo’s claim is just the latest example of anti-oil-and-gas activists dishonestly pedaling problems that don’t exist in an effort to confuse the public and turn opinion against responsible domestic energy development. The “subsurface trespass” narrative is just the latest tactic being thrown up against the wall – and it has nothing to do with authentic concerns about private property owner rights.

The real aim of the new SAFE campaign is to curtail oil and gas production altogether by pushing regulations that make it as difficult as possible to conduct the conventional oil and gas development that’s taken place in the state for more than a century.

In fact, SAFE’s so-called “property rights” agenda would actually infringe the rights of mineral owners if imposed by allowing a single mineral owner to block drilling and the will of the majority of mineral owners.

Many may not be aware that Illinois mineral ownership is severed, meaning literally dozens or even hundreds of individuals can share subsurface ownership. Surface and mineral ownership are also separate in Illinois – just because you own the surface property doesn’t necessarily mean you own the minerals beneath and vice versa. For instance, I do not own 100 percent of the minerals beneath my property. I actually share mineral ownership beneath my property with no fewer than a dozen different people. That noted, the wishes of the majority of mineral owners have always ruled when it comes to development of minerals owned by multiple individuals.

This past weekend’s Post-Dispatch story seems to confuse surface ownership with mineral ownership. The article states:

“… if there is a desirable deposit that extends beneath someone’s land, companies could make a play on it without their permission — as long as enough of the neighbors say yes.”

The “neighbors” being referenced are not neighboring surface owners; they are actually fellow mineral owners. And the fact remains that if a mineral owner who owns a very small percentage of the minerals being developed enjoyed veto power to stop drilling, it would infringe on the rights of the majority mineral owners. And even if a mineral owner opposes drilling, they still get compensated if a well is developed, completely debunking SAFE’s notion of “theft of their mineral rights.”

Despite the media coverage so-called “subsurface trespass” has received, it is a complete non-issue in Illinois, and will remain a non-issue moving forward. What is far more relevant is the fact that the industry directly and indirectly employs 14,000 – a vast majority of which reside in Southern Illinois – and more than 30,000 people receive royalty income from Illinois oil production.

SAFE’s agenda has nothing to do with protecting those royalty owners’ rights – it has everything to do with imposing a “Keep It In the Ground” agenda aimed at destroying Illinois’ oil production industry.


Record US oil production softens blow of Illinois gas tax increase

Just in time for Independence Day, Illinois’ gasoline tax doubled this week from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon. Illinois now boasts the third-highest gasoline tax in the country, and such taxes are responsible for a significant chunk of what consumers wind up paying at the pump.

But fortunately, as the Arlington Heights Daily Herald reported Tuesday, “many consumers were spared massive sticker shock” thanks largely to “a robust supply of U.S. oil related to fracking.”

Indeed, the United States’ ongoing oil boom can be credited for keeping Illinois gasoline prices far lower than they otherwise would be in the wake of the state’s latest tax hike. U.S. oil production recently surpassed 12 million barrels per day, a 140 percent increase from 2005. As Argonne National Laboratory expert Don Hillebrand told the Daily Herald, “When there's volatility, the U.S. has the capacity to start pumping. We can naturally bring down prices by opening up other sources of oil.”

Click here to read to full Southern Illinoisan op-ed.


Trust Established by Illinois Basin Icon Funds D.C. Trips for Wayne Co. High School Seniors

Pictured from left are members of the Podolsky family, Suzanne C. Schoomer, Michael Podolsky, Naomi Podolsky, Bernard Podolsky and Bill Podolsky.

Bernard Podolsky is no doubt remembered by most as a successful, self-made oilman. But like so many of the Illinois Basin’s most prominent historical figures, the story of the founder of Fairfield-based Podolsky Oil goes far beyond the oil patch. The inspiration and positive impact made by the Bernard and Naomi L. Podolsky Charitable Trust is a prime example. As Bernard’s son Michael explains:

“He and my mother felt this community had helped them do well, that their kids had gone on to do well in the world, and that they should give something back.”

Bernard and Naomi Podolsky are pictured with their oldest son, William, in this 1944 portrait. Bernard was a Captain in the U.S. Army during the time.

Established in 2011, the trust has made it possible for more than 800 Wayne County high school seniors to visit Washington D.C. over the past seven years. The trust picks up the tab for roughly 60 percent of the annual trip’s expenses, allowing many kids who would otherwise not be able to afford such a trip to visit historical sites such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, just to name a few.

The only mandatory stop is the Holocaust Memorial Museum, a requirement inspired by Bernard and Michael’s visit to the memorial years ago. Both came away believing nobody should graduate from high school without having experienced the museum and the lessons it teaches first-hand.

“It was so powerful,” Michael said. “And what was particularly powerful was the understanding that at the time that the Nazis took power in Germany, Germany in many ways was the most civilized and advanced country in the world…

“We came away understanding that the veneer of civilization is very thin, and that if you have the wrong people running it away, then the savagery that’s underneath can escape. We believed that people need to understand this, that Germany wasn’t some aberration – that this could be anywhere, that this could happen anywhere.”

Since the annual trip was established in 2012, Michael estimates roughly 80 percent of Fairfield, Cisne and Wayne City high school seniors have attended. Bernard once worried that the required visit to the Holocaust Museum would either keep kids from wanting to attend or not resonate on a meaningful level. But fortunately, the opposite has been true in both cases.

As then-Fairfield High School Senior Chloe Hodges wrote of the experience in a 2017 Wayne County Press article:

“I’ll never forget. I’d have to say that this would be the memorial that stuck with everyone the most. It’s a painful story to listen to, but a very, very necessary one.”

Bernard passed way at the age of 97 just one year after the trip was established. But fortunately, he was able to see how significant an impact that inaugural D.C. trip made on the students who attended. Seniors from Cisne High School sent the Podolskys a scrapbook documenting the inaugural trip with keepsakes, photos and – most significantly – hand-written letters thanking Bernard for making the experience possible. Michael shared one of the letters sent to his father by a Cisne High School foreign exchange student following the first D.C. trip. It reads:

Dear Mr. Podolsky,

My name is Katerina, and I am an exchange student from Slovakia currently living in Cisne. Without you, I would probably never see the most important city of American history and politics. I still can’t believe I’ve had this amazing opportunity and I am so thankful for that. Thank you.

It’s a pity I never got to know you. You seem like a really cool guy.

Thank you,

Kat

Because Bernard’s vision was failing at the time, Michael and his father’s caretakers would read these letters to him, an emotional experience for all involved.

“He was so touched by the fact that he could touch these kids’ lives,” Michael said. “When we would read these to my dad – he was a tough guy, he had been in war, he’d been in the oilfields, he’d seen a lot in 97 years – but he would always start crying when he would see what these kids took from what he offered.”

Bernard did indeed see and experience a lot during his lifetime. The son of immigrants from Russia and Romania, Bernard’s family settled in Pittsburgh in 1903. He went on to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Petroleum Geology before setting out on his own in 1938.

“He had a round-trip ticket from Pittsburgh to Oklahoma City,” Michael said. “His professor told him there was an oil boom in Illinois, there was an oil boom in Oklahoma. He had 14 bucks and a suitcase and was looking for a job.”

Bernard found what he was looking for the day after stepping off the train in Effingham, where he was hired by Kingwood Oil Co. and soon met his future wife, Naomi. He worked at Kingwood Oil for three years prior answering the call to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1941 to 1946. After leaving the Army as a Major, Bernard settled in Fairfield in 1950, establishing a successful exploration and production company that remains in business nearly 70 years later.

Though petroleum engineer and geologist were his official titles, Bernard was also a passionate industry advocate and conservationist – roles he strongly felt went hand-in-hand.

“He was really proud of the oil industry and he wanted the oil industry to be proud of itself,” said Michael, who is Bernard’s heir apparent at Podolsky Oil. “I like to think my father was a conservationist. I’d like to think that I’m a conservationist and I’d like to think many of the good people in this oil and gas industry are conservationist. We live here, we drink this water, we breathe this air.”

Michael and Bernard Podolsky pose for a photo prior to setting casing on a well near Noble.

Bernard took pride in reducing farmland impacts from oil and gas production and development, and was responsible for developing a widely-used brine cleanup process that would become known as the “Wayne County Method.” He also planted hundreds of trees, both for conservation and recreational and educational purposes, earning former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar’s “Illinois Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year” award along with Michael in 1991.

At the core of Bernard’s conservation efforts was his spearheading of an effort to develop a 120-acre IDNR-owned tract of woodland just north of Fairfield for recreation and education. Bernard envisioned a parkland covered by lakes, bike trails, walking trails, birdwatching and every species of oak tree found in Illinois.

Though a total of $360,000 in donations from the Podolsky Trust and several other private donors have been secured, the project has yet to be finalized some six years after Bernard’s passing. But fortunately, the Washington D.C. trips the Podolsky Trust make possible serve as an ongoing example of Bernard’s vision being realized.

“I believe the words he actually used were ‘to open the windows of the world for the people of Wayne County and Southern Illinois’ and to make Wayne County a better place for everyone to live,” Michael said.

“I don’t know how many kids my parents’ legacy has touched, but if it’s one it’s worth it. If we keep one kid from getting a swastika tattooed on his arm or we make one person more kind or reach out to a refugee or someone who needs help, then it was worth it. … Hopefully this is something that can go forward for many years.”

Bernard Podolsky is pictured during a 2009 dedication of a new wing of the World War II museum in New Orleans. Bernard was one of 500 World War II veterans to march during the dedication.

Department of Energy Forecast Indicates Future of Oil and Natural Gas Is Very Bright

Given all the “Green New Deal” hype, one might be inclined to believe the future for oil and natural gas is very bleak. But the opposite is actually true.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a report that shows fossil fuels – primarily oil and natural gas – will likely meet 79 percent of our energy needs in 2050. That represents just a one percent decline from fossil fuels’ energy consumption share last year.

As the following American Enterprise Institute graphics show, reports of oil and natural gas’ demise have no basis in reality.

Notably, the DOE’s projections aren’t dictated by who happens to occupy the White House. In fact, similar projections date back to the Obama administration. The DOE’s projections are based on cold, hard facts – and the fact remains that wind and solar’s fundamental limitations will keep abundant, dependable and affordable oil and natural gas in high demand for decades to come.

First and foremost, wind and solar offer no alternative whatsoever to oil and natural gas use in the industrial sector, or the roughly 6,000 petroleum-based products that are essential to our everyday lives. And as Real Clear Energy’s Jude Clemente recently noted, “perhaps the world's greatest energy irony is that oil and petrochemicals themselves are integral to renewables, electric cars, and the overall ‘energy transition’ itself.”

Indeed, petroleum and petroleum products are needed to manufacture solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, thermal insulation and electric vehicles. They are also needed to power the heavy machinery and large trucks necessary to mine the rare earth metals needed for electric car batteries.

But what about power generation? Many don’t realize that wind and solar are intermittent electricity-generation sources that must be backed up by natural gas generation when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. It is for this simple reason that the head of one of the largest utilities in the United States, Excel CEO Ben Fowke, recently said, “The grid can’t be 100 percent renewable.”

So even assuming that electric vehicles will one day replace vehicles with internal combustion engines, their batteries would be charged by power that is at least partially generated by fossil fuels.

Based on current battery storage technology, Fowke acknowledges the maximum potential share of power generation generated by wind and solar would be 80 percent. And a recent Wood Mackenzie report finds that even in areas of the country with a “decent” mix of wind and solar potential, those places can only get to 50 percent wind and solar penetration without struggling. There is currently no complex electric power system in the world that operates with a wind or solar supply mix greater than 30 percent.

The fact remains that petroleum has been the largest source of United States energy consumption since 1950 for many reasons — the same reasons the DOE projects it will retain that title out to 2050 and beyond. The following EIA graphic pretty much tells the tale.

We are simply going to need a lot of oil and natural gas in the decades to come. And the only alternative to producing it here is importing in from countries that would love nothing more than to have us under their collective thumbs. Fortunately, the United States is positioned to limit, if not eliminate, the latter scenario like never before. Already the world’s undisputed leader in both oil and natural gas production, the DOE expects us to become a net exporter of energy next year and continue to retain that status through at least 2050.

Long-coveted energy independence is about to become the new normal.

To be clear, no energy source is perfect. But the United States has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than any other country so far this century, all while growing economy an unprecedented 10 consecutive years. The only realistic path toward continued emissions reductions and economic stability is an all-of-the-above energy mix that includes natural gas, nuclear, hydropower and some form of carbon capture. “Green New Deal” advocates reject all of these in favor of exclusive use of limited wind and solar technologies that are currently meeting just three percent of our energy needs.

This is why when it comes to the “Green New Deal,” the rhetoric doesn’t reflect reality. Instead, reality reflects the myriad of reasons Americans need to support U.S. oil and natural gas development moving forward.