By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Mike Sommers said there’s growing confidence that America’s future will be brighter and cleaner because of today’s natural gas and oil abundance and an adapting, evolving industry.
“Today, I’m going to outline a path, a vision, for an affordable, secure, reliable cleaner energy future one marked by a shared commitment across many industries to innovation, action, and problem-solving,” Sommers avowed.
The remarks kicked off API’s annual State of American Energy address. Sommers outlined actions the natural gas and oil industry is taking to support the nation’s economic recovery and a vision for an affordable, reliable, and cleaner energy future.
The virtual event drew more than 2,000 attendees.
It featured young professionals and energy leaders, including a New Mexico teacher, a Pennsylvania-based union trade leader, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
“We’ve become conditioned to pitting using energy against making environmental progress, yet history has shown that this is a false choice,” Sommers expressed.
“Both developing energy and reducing emissions are essential to advance our society and protect the environment without energy and environmental progress.”
The State of American Energy report revealed that the natural gas and oil industry remains a reliable foundation for America’s economic recovery.
The industry stands ready to help the country build – today, tomorrow, and in the future – through innovation and new technologies, to supply affordable, dependable energy while continuously improving environmental performance, Sommers outlined.
“Natural gas and oil are both supporting our nation’s recovery, and eventually come back from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sommers maintained. “Our products served as critical building blocks for millions of face masks, surgical gowns, and other PPE worn by frontline workers. Our crews worked long shifts to make those products and power hospitals and plants.”
He noted that the industry had refrained from political battles and focused on the essential work the nation depends upon in producing and delivering American energy, which contributes to national security, answering the climate changes with action and ingenuity while keeping energy affordable.
“Thanks to American technology and innovation, the United States is now the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil,” Sommers told the gathering. “Securing America’s energy future has long been a point of unity since the 1970s, and nine US presidents have focused on American energy security and advocated for reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”
He insisted that energy affordability is more important than ever as the country recovers from the pandemic. “A government that’s focused on recovery for all should reject policies that could drive up energy costs and hurt those who can least afford them,” Sommers said.”That is the case we’re making, and we are working with President Joe Biden and his administration. Our country has a lot of economic ground to make up, millions of more jobs to recover, and when the business at hand is the economic revival, no industry can help more than this one. The pandemic offered reminders of just how crucial the natural gas and oil industry is to everyday life.”
Dr. Chavis, a longtime environmental justice advocate, said the more than 230-member NNPA, which represents the Black Press of America, has enjoyed a great partnership with API and expects to continue as both strive to ensure that all residents have access to affordable energy.
“There are energy poverty places in America where we don’t get access to energy and natural gas that’s affordable,” Dr. Chavis declared. “We need to make sure that natural gas is accessible to all communities. We want to overcome these so-called energy poverty places in America.”
Chavis continued: “One of the things we’ve enjoyed over the years is the close working relationship between the American Petroleum Institute and NNPA. As we begin 2021, the outlook is how to make progress, how to expand opportunities.
“I’m hopeful that 2021 would not only be a year of transition, but a year where we focus on diversity and inclusion not only in terms of words but with deeds, and I think there are so many opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry in America. And, of course, API is leading the [way].”
During the event, Sommers announced the launch of API Energy Excellence, which establishes benchmarks on safety, security, and environmental protection that every API member will be expected to pursue and reach.
API Energy Excellence defines superior and ever-improving performance that will unify the industry’s future progress in critically important areas to the nation, local communities, and ourselves, Sommers remarked.
Core elements range from safety culture and community engagement to employee training and equipment design and aim to accelerate safety and environmental progress by sharing best practices and new technologies and annual progress reporting.
“With this new program, we’re creating a roadmap for accelerating performance across all segments of our industry,” Sommers said.
“For nearly a century, API’s standards have supported the safe and environmentally responsible development, production, and transportation of natural gas and oil operations. API Energy Excellence is the next big step.”