America’s unconventional gas and oil resources are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance the nation’s economic competitiveness while minimizing environmental impacts, and making major progress toward reduced greenhouse-gas emissions. But there is a real risk that American citizens, companies, and communities will fail to capitalize on this opportunity because of misunderstanding and distrust. Unconventional energy production is mired in political gridlock and consumed by public and stakeholder frustrations on local community and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, as well as climate concerns.
In a joint research effort, Harvard Business School (HBS) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have put forward a comprehensive plan that dispels false notions about trade-offs involved in unconventionals development. The report, America’s Unconventional Energy Opportunity: A Win-Win Plan for the Economy, the Environment, and a Lower-Carbon, Cleaner-Energy Future, outlines a strategic, fact-based approach to developing America’s new energy advantage such that it increases U.S. competitiveness and drives much-needed job and economic growth, while reducing environmental impacts and accelerating progress on climate change.
Based on an extensive review of existing studies, new primary research, and interviews across all stakeholder groups, the report provides a comprehensive fact-base and analysis that shows:
- The development of unconventional energy offers an unprecedented opportunity for increasing U.S. competitiveness and growing well-paying jobs that are accessible to the average citizen. By 2030:
- Unconventionals could support 3.8 million jobs with wages twice the national median—half of which would be accessible to middle-skilled workers.
- Produce average annual energy savings of $1,070 per household from low-cost natural gas, up from nearly $800 in 2014.
- Contribute almost $600 billion in annual GDP and $160 billion in government tax revenue from production-related activities alone, with ripple effects in energy-intensive industries such as plastics, metals, and heavy manufacturing.
- The local environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing can be managed cost-effectively—without hindering the economic opportunity—by using known processes, filling gaps in regulation, and improving enforcement.
- Unconventional natural gas is the only feasible, cost-effective way for the U.S. to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 while enabling the penetration of renewables.
The report outlines 11 action steps—
involving all stakeholders—that offer a viable, practical and economically-competitive path forward.