New projections from the Energy Information Administration show that the US is on course to become a net exporter of energy for the first time in almost 70 years, according to CNBC.
The nation is expected to begin exporting more energy products than it imports by 2020, thanks to rising crude oil output, and declining oil consumption at home. Exports of natural gas and petroleum byproducts are also on the rise. The shift comes alongside increasing reliance on natural gas as the country moves away from coal and nuclear power.
EIA administrator Linda Capuano said, however, that “being a net exporter does not mean the United States is independent of international trade.”
The new report speeds up the timetable for the country’s efforts to move toward energy independence. Last year’s EIA report projected the change would occur in 2022, and 2017’s report didn’t expect the change until 2026.
However, the slow decline of coal paired with the rapid ascent of natural gas use are projected to leave the US far behind on its targets to reduce carbon emissions to limit climate change. The EIA says that by 2050, carbon emissions from energy use will only have declined about 2.5 percent, to 5,019 metric tons from 5,147 in 2017.
In the past, greenhouse gas projections featured prominently in the EIA’s annual report. But this year’s report omitted that data, which was instead provided in an email from an official, according to The Guardian. The omission comes as the Trump administration has consistently downplayed climate change and rolled back regulations to address it.
The EIA says oil production will continue to reach new record highs until 2027, when it is expected to level off. Last year, 10.9 million barrels were produced in the US, breaking a record set in 1970.
Most of these increases will come from shale production, concentrated in the Permian Basin in west Texas and New Mexico. Increases are not yet expected from new offshore drilling off the east coast, or from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The US has been a net exporter of natural gas since 2017, and increases are expected to continue, according to the EIA.
“We are absolutely moving in the right direction,” said Colette Honorable, a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, she noted, “we absolutely have more work to do.”