The greatest energy mistake ever made


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BY DAVID HOLT:

Some are trying to blame current surging gasoline prices on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is an incorrect and a politically expedient excuse for an administration that has been erecting barriers to producing oil and gas in the United States.

It should be clear to anyone who filled up a gas tank in 2021 that prices were already climbing fast back then. It is not coincidental that the rising prices came as the Biden Administration implemented policy after policy that signaled to the global market to count U.S. energy out. Unsurprisingly, from Inauguration Day to the day before the Ukraine invasion, gas rose more than $1.10 a barrel.

And now, gasoline is breaking record highs, and oil has surged past $130 a barrel. Inflation is at a 40-year high and shows no signs of slowing down.

Yet here we are, with the Biden Administration looking everywhere from OPEC to Venezuela for relief, while blacklisting the domestic energy industry and fulfilling the wish lists of radical groups who myopically want to eliminate oil and gas, with zero discussion of the impact it may have on families, small businesses, or even the environment.

Imagine if we had a food shortage, and an administration did everything it could to shut down American farming and instead went asking unfriendly nations for help?

The cognitive dissonance has a lot to do with a decision made a decade ago to manufacture an enemy.

“A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies,” the activist founder of 350.org wrote in 2012. “We need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization.”

Despite being utter nonsense, this statement is the essence of keep-it-in-the-ground movement that 350.org led. It’s successful, emotion-driven activism.

But it’s also the greatest energy mistake ever made – for both the affordability of energy and our environment. Fortunately, we can avoid it if we look at how the activists’ success failed the European countries where anti-fossil fuel policies were enacted – and cheated their citizens as a result.

Germany’s Green Party – architect of the country’s failed move away from nuclear and natural gas, which led to record high prices and risks of factory closures this winter – just accepted the reality that their lack of control over their own energy is why they are suffering. They have now agreed to the immediate approval of a new liquefied natural gas terminal.

They learned the hard way that we cannot change overnight the systems that provide the world’s most necessary commodity, without risking our economies and national security.

That is a global mistake being repeated here, with the Biden Administration’s pause on offshore and onshore leasing, bureaucratic failure to prepare a Congressionally-mandated five-year plan for Gulf of Mexico lease sales, and introduction of more regulatory barriers to getting critical infrastructure built.

Government action to hammer an industry leads to lower levels of investment, which means less capital for innovations like carbon capture and sequestration. As new technologies come online and our infrastructure is built to adapt to them, we must maintain what actually keeps our homes heated or cooled and the lights on, while constantly ratcheting down emissions and improving our energy systems.

That’s why activist campaigns to ban natural gas are so harmful. They are inconsiderate of the costs to ordinary people, especially those on fixed incomes.

Worse, they are brazen attempts to mandate this limited view, without real debate or a grasp of reality.

The world will still get 75% of its energy from traditional fuels by mid-century. Better we produce it here with our world’s best environmental standards, or someone else will, and not as cleanly.

Two-thirds of Americans support moving toward carbon neutrality by 2050, according to a recent Pew Research Center Poll. Nearly the same amount believe we should use both traditional and renewable energy sources, and not ban fossil fuels.

That’s a two-to-one vote in favor of good sense. Energy is too important to be left in the hands of activists who spare no thought about the cost to people. We need an honest public conversation about how to get to carbon neutrality without crashing our economy, not a dictate from on high.

In the meantime, Mr. President, please open up America’s best-in-the-world oil and gas production to save our economy. This should be an easier decision than asking Americans to suffer more.

David Holt is president of Consumer Energy Alliance, a U.S. consumer energy and environment advocate supporting affordable, reliable energy for working families, seniors and businesses across the country. 

This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy

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