Oil Industry Says It's Spent Billions to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

By Penny Starr | January 9, 2013 | 8:20 AM EST

In his annual State of American Energy address, Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, talked about “the incredible potential” of the oil and natural gas industry to spur more economic growth.

(CNSNews.com) - The United States has a “game-changing opportunity” to become a global leader in energy production, with benefits for the environment, said Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute, in a speech on Tuesday.

In his annual State of American Energy address, Gerard hailed the oil and gas industry’s investments in “cutting-edge technologies” – a reference to fracking -- to access resources previously thought unreachable.”

Shale energy development has environmental benefits, Gerard said, as increased use of natural gas has helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1992 levels.

“If we seize the opportunity now, we will be positioned to lead for decades and realize the economic and energy security benefits of leadership.”

Gerard noted that since 1990, the oil and natural gas industry has invested more than $252 billion in improving the environmental performance of its products, facilities and operations.

Between 2000 and 2010, the industry invested $71 billion in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, far more than the federal government spent ($43 billion) and almost as much as the rest of private industry combined ($74 billion), according to a 2011 study prepared for API.

API’s own research shows that in 2011 alone, the oil and natural gas industry spent an estimated $11 billion on greenhouse gas mitigation technologies.

Gerard also noted that the oil and natural gas industry provides a huge amount of revenue to the U.S. treasury through federal leases sales, fees, royalties and other charges.

“This industry is also among the largest source of revenue to the government, providing broader financial security for the nation,” Gerard said.

The industry paid $1.8 billion for federal offshore leases in 2012 – a number Gerard said could “significantly increase” if additional federal waters are made available for energy production. Right now, around 80 percent of offshore areas are off-limits to energy development, he said.

All things considered, Gerard said the oil and natural gas industry pays $86 million a day to the federal government.

API represents more than 480 oil and natural gas companies.