One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s greatest — and perhaps least obvious — lessons is that the U.S. needs more energy, not less.
It may seem counterintuitive when we see headlines about low natural gas and oil prices or electricity demand hitting a 16-year low because of the pandemic’s steep demand declines, but harnessing America’s energy resources and technological know-how has never been more important.
As a nonpartisan advocate for energy policies that help our families, farmers, and small businesses by keeping energy reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible, Consumer Energy Alliance has long supported wind, solar, oil, natural gas, nuclear and all other forms of energy. We will continue to fight for policies that aid in our nation’s ability to keep energy abundant and decrease our dependence on countries with less robust environmental safeguards.
For this reason, we reluctantly offer our strong opposition to the Democratic Party’s recently announced policy position that would eliminate future energy development on federal lands.
Any policy which restricts U.S. energy supplies is anti-family and will increase the already smothering financial pressure on those living on low or fixed incomes, or even worse, without incomes as a result of the pandemic.
In CEA’s view, the platform as currently written includes unrealistic cost and job-creation assumptions and fails to recognize the critical role that a robust and expansive energy policy must play in helping the U.S. recover from the COVID-19 crisis. It also appears to ignore the fact that some of our federal lands hold our greatest resources of oil and gas as well as the critical minerals we need to build advanced renewable technologies.
It would also hamper our ability to recover economically by making it more expensive to rebuild American supply chains and adapt our energy resources to propel our economy forward. Those goals are unified by a single factor: affordable and abundant energy, which has driven every modern American economic recovery.
We must have a forward-thinking, progressive, industry-building, job-creating, economy-boosting energy policy, and that will require every single source of domestic energy we can find.
Name any other nation in the world that willingly forecloses its ability to benefit from its own assets, and instead chooses to make itself more dependent on outsiders. America would be ceding her energy self-sufficiency to others at a time when we must protect and grow it, while continuing to show the world how to curtail emissions while meeting energy demand.
Let impartial data tell the story: the U.S. has the largest absolute decrease in carbon dioxide emissions of any country since 2000, down by more than 1 gigaton from their peak that year, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2019 alone, America once again led the world with a reduction of 140 megatons, while Asia’s output increased by 320 megatons — almost entirely from China.
The U.S. is more than two-thirds of the way to its emissions reductions goals under the Paris Climate Accord 2025 targets, while China has only agreed to stop increasing emissions by 2030. It’s proof positive that our broad energy mix, including increased use of renewables is leading the world in emissions reductions.
Still, some shrill activists continue to attack specific forms of energy, taking joy in cheering the economic damage and job losses wrought by the pandemic on the oil and gas industry. They misguidedly toast their success in shuttering or delaying critical infrastructure projects by rendering them economically unattractive and more expensive for consumers.
Right now, we must view energy with a nonpartisan lens. After all, energy impacts each of us every day in more ways than any other aspect of life — from air conditioning to driving to dinner to smartphones to wearing clothes.
If we are to rebuild, reinvest, refill decimated state and federal budgets, and recapture supply chains, jobs and economic hope, energy is essential. That means, wind and solar continue their growth path, natural gas keeps playing an increasing role, U.S. reliance on onshore and offshore oil must continue, and nuclear power’s clean energy role must be recognized while we enhance our globe-leading environmental progress.
We can hit our emissions goals without needlessly harming families, farmers and small businesses with overly restrictive energy policies that rely on wishes rather than realities.
Let’s stop the bully politics and approach our energy future from a viewpoint of abundance, rather than a just-say-no, anti-energy platform that will raise energy costs and lower reliability. That will only harm families, and we are already hearing the warnings from inside some impacted communities about moving too fast.
We must heed them, and we urge our political leaders to adopt a more non-partisan approach to energy policy that offers hope for economic growth and world-class environmental stewardship.
David Holt is president of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA).
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