Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar speaks with First Solar and Enbridge leadership at the Enbridge Silver State North solar project in Nevada. | Photo courtesy of Interior Department, credit Tami A. Heilemann.
Editor's note: this article originally appeared on WhiteHouse.gov.
President Obama has made it clear that our country needs an all-of-the-above strategy to develop American energy -- energy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and generates new jobs for Americans.
On Tuesday, we took another major step forward in President Obama’s commitment to responsibly expand development of America’s abundant natural gas resources by approving the Greater Natural Buttes gas development project in Utah.
This project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, could produce more than six trillion cubic feet of natural gas over its life, support more than 4,000 American jobs during the different phases of development, and infuse millions of dollars into local Utah communities.
The project is a model for a balanced approach to energy development: by using innovative technologies and best practices, the project will limit new surface disturbance to just five percent of the area. And, as part of a landmark cooperative agreement with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Anadarko will drill the 3,600 new wells while safeguarding air quality and ensuring the protection of critical wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation values.
Today’s announcement exemplifies the kind of progress we are making as part of the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy. In 2011, U.S. natural gas production grew by more than 7 percent -- the largest year-over-year increase in history. U.S. gas production is now at an all-time high and oil production is at an eight-year high. And America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year since President Obama took office; we have cut net imports by ten percent -- or a million barrels a day -- in the last year alone.
But that’s not all. Renewable energy production has nearly doubled over the last three years. And on public lands, we are well on our way to meeting the President’s goal of permitting 10,000 megawatts of large-scale renewable power by the end of the year.
Earlier this week, in the sun-drenched southwest corner of Nevada, we “flipped the switch” on the first large-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public lands to deliver power to American consumers. The Enbridge Silver State North solar facility uses innovative photovoltaic technology to deliver clean energy to more than 10,000 homes and businesses across Nevada.
The 50-megawatt project generates electricity with no air emissions, no waste production, and no water use. The advanced process displaces about 42,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually -- the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.
Prior to 2009, Interior had not authorized a single solar project on public lands. But today, the Silver State North project is one of 29 large-scale renewable energy projects that Interior has approved on public lands, including 16 solar projects, 5 wind farms, and 8 geothermal plants. If built by the companies, the facilities will provide more than 6,500 megawatts of power to communities across the West.
We need to keep this momentum going and help put America in control of its energy future. That’s why President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation that will extend the Production Tax Credit to support American jobs and manufacturing in the wind industry alongside an expansion of the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit that supports American-made clean energy manufacturing.
All of these trends show the gathering strength of America’s energy economy as we move forward with an all-of-the-above energy strategy.