AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — The United States recorded the largest decrease in carbon dioxide emissions of any country last year, which representatives of Grow America’s Infrastructure Now credits to a transition from coal to natural gas. The group, in partnership with the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, participated in a recent panel discussion focusing on the Permian Basin’s role in driving the energy industry.
Data from the International Energy Agency released earlier this month shows carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. were down 2.9% in 2019 compared to the year before. The IEA states this decline correlates with a 15% reduction in coal use.
IEA data also shows that natural gas useage now accounts for 37% of electricity generation in the U.S.
Texas' Permian Basin gas production is expected to double by the year 2025, according to data from midstream energy company Enterprise Products Partners. To keep up with the demand, three pipelines are currently in the works to transport gas out of the region.
Bill Godsey, president of Geo Logic Environmental Services and a former Texas Railroad Commission geologist, said there are several hurdles that must be addressed before beginning pipeline construction, including possible endangered species, local and regional ordinances, aquifers and regulations on the operation of the pipeline itself as well as the materials used for construction.
“There’s a lot of obstacles before you can put a pipeline in the ground,” he said.
Stevens said plans for future pipelines could be complicated by the outcomes of the November elections. Pipelines have become a popular topic among candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but it’s turned into a partisan issue,” he said.
U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer have said they oppose pipeline expansion.
“We’ve got folks up there on day one that are going to shut down pipelines,” Stevens said, referencing the Democrat candidates. “It was really striking to me that there are people in this country who want to leave our natural resources in the ground.”
Additionally, the panel discussed global crises that could curb demand for natural gas.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks said the outbreak of the coronavirus will likely lead to a drop in demand for oil and natural gas because several of the largest banks in the world are Chinese-owned. Great Britain leaving the European Union could also cause a decrease in demand for U.S. product, he said.
“The challenge is a unified Europe. The EU is our largest trading partner,” Marks said. “If that starts to disintegrate, we could go back to what we had in Europe in the mid-1930s. Individual states in Europe will look towards Russia,” said Marks, adding that the effects of the coronavirus and Brexit on the oil and gas industry could be “abhorrent” if not corrected quickly.