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We want to lead the battle against climate change.

This may sound surprising to some, as the oil and natural gas industry is not always portrayed as an environmental steward.

To be certain, we believe a thriving industry is a critical part of the state and national economy. But we also believe that caring for our environmental future is a vital responsibility. Sustaining the planet for generations to come must be the top priority for all of us.

We recognize climate change is a real, substantial challenge and we’re committed to helping meet that challenge by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas, comprised primarily of methane, emits 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than oil. Our industry is embracing the newest technologies and most innovative approaches to greatly exceed environmental standards for emissions at state and federal levels, including those that minimize methane entering the atmosphere during the production and distribution of natural gas.

Take Dominion Energy, which is a major natural gas distributor in West Virginia. The company recently announced an industry-leading initiative to reduce methane emissions from its natural gas infrastructure by 50 percent over the next decade, based on 2010 levels. The initiative will prevent more than 430,000 metric tons of methane from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road for a year or planting nearly 180 million new trees.

Dominion Energy is already taking action to reduce or eliminate gas venting during planned maintenance and inspections, replace older equipment across its system with new, low-emission equipment, and expand leak detection and repair programs across its entire system.

ExxonMobil, which owns West Virginia gas producer XTO Energy, announced its plan to significantly improve its emission performance, including a 15 percent decrease in methane emissions and a 25 percent reduction in flaring by 2020 compared with 2016.

Methane emissions from Southwestern Energy’s West Virginia and Pennsylvania assets dropped to 0.057 percent in 2018, which is over 96 percent lower than the industry average of 1.62 percent. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund gave the company a “Leadership Spotlight” in its February 2018 report Disclosure Divide for transparent disclosure and continuous improvement on methane emissions.

Antero Resources methane emissions were 0.06 percent in 2017, which is well ahead of the gas production and gathering segment goal of 0.36 percent and the ONE Future target of 1 percent. The company’s emissions intensity remains flat even though production has increased significantly. To further their commitment to reducing emissions, the company participates in voluntary programs, including EPA Natural Gas STAR, ONE Future and API’s Environmental Partnership.

It’s important to note that natural gas used to generate electricity is making significant contributions to improving the environment. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Oct. 8 Short-Term Energy Outlook, natural gas used in power generation will provide 37 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S., followed by coal at 25.

The increased use of natural gas for electricity generation has helped drive down national power sector carbon dioxide emissions by 28 percent since 2005 — the lowest level since 1987, according to the EIA. And carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. energy consumption are projected to remain flat or decrease slightly between now and 2050 due to falling emissions brought on by decreased coal and petroleum usage.

We’re dedicated to reducing our carbon footprint. We’re also dedicated to providing cost-effective energy to power homes and businesses.

These endeavors are both part of our industry’s sustainable future.