By Albert Wynn
June 7, 2021 at 5:00 am ET
Just as with financial investments, diversification and balance are the keys to meeting America’s growing energy needs. It is one of the best strategies to enable price stability, even low prices, and ensure energy independence for our national security. Very few Americans can withstand the 41 percent spike in gas prices we have experienced in the past year, as prices at the pump average $3.04 across the United States and exceed $4 in some regions.
Daniel Yergin, an executive at IHS Markit, a global research firm, said, “Every president since Nixon – nine presidents – have been calling for energy independence, and we finally achieved it and now we’ll see what happens.”
Investments and decisions we make today will shape the stability and independence we enjoy in the years to come. Even as the Biden administration prioritizes important investments into green energy, such as electric vehicles and renewable production, there is optimism that the president understands the need to continue building infrastructure to support U.S. oil and natural gas. The United States recently became the world’s largest energy producer, passing Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil production, and became a net exporter, reducing our reliance on foreign entities.
It is more than a matter of sound national security policy. The administration would be foolish to cater to environmental extremists who disregard the reality that the U.S. oil and gas industry supports millions of good-paying American jobs and provides tens of billions of dollars to local, state and federal governments. If that’s not convincing enough, here is conclusive analysis confirming the need for patience and continued diversity: According to the International Energy Association’s 2050 net-zero emissions report “half the technology to reach net zero has not yet been invented.”
The practical reality is that oil and gas will make up a substantial majority of U.S. primary energy consumption in the decades ahead, standing at 69 percent today, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As a result, it is critical that the United States continue to prioritize commonsense infrastructure policy and investment that keep America’s energy resources flowing – safely, efficiently, and in the most environmentally-conscious method possible.
The latest front on this infrastructure battle is the Dakota Access Pipeline. The DAPL connects oil in North Dakota to a centralized location in Illinois where it can continue its safe transport to market. Despite continued attacks from opponents, DAPL has safely moved up to 570,000 barrels of North Dakota crude each day for nearly four years.
Compared to rail and other modes of transit, pipelines are the safest, most reliable and most cost-effective means of moving oil. They also produce far fewer emissions than the alternatives of truck and train. Other modes face cost uncertainty due to fuel prices and can experience congestion, or delays, as it competes for space with other consumer goods. Similarly, adding fuel transport to rail and truck would have ripple effects for farmers and families at the grocery store as corn, wheat and soybeans, for instance, would see freight costs spikes, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Perhaps Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm recently said it best: “Pipe is the best way to go.”
It seems most others agree. Last month, President Joe Biden’s Justice Department and the Army Corps of Engineers allowed DAPL to continue operation as the project’s final environmental reviews are completed over the next nine months. A federal judge on May 21, 2021, agreed that the pipeline can continue operating as opponents have not met the standard to shut it down and highlighted the review underway by the Army Corps – ensuring confidence in our nation’s permitting process and the importance of regulatory certainty.
Whether ideological purists and fringe environmentalists like it or not, oil and natural gas will continue to make up a large portion of U.S. fuel consumption for decades. Even as renewable scales of the next 15 – 20 years, our energy needs will continue to grow, creating a greater need for a variety of energy sources.
It is important to keep politics out of America’s energy policy so that Biden and the Democratic leadership in Congress can prioritize a balanced investment strategy, which continues to advance infrastructure such as DAPL, maintains our energy independence and ensures affordable energy for American consumers. The Biden administration must continue to prioritize American energy independence for our COVID-19 recovery, national security, jobs and economic prosperity.
Albert Wynn is a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, having served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and currently acts as a strategic adviser to the Grow America’s Infrastructure Now Coalition and as senior director at Greenberg Traurig.
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