Today we need a rational discussion on energy policy that isn’t run by a single group or agenda. There aren’t any perfect solutions, because we don’t live in a perfect world. We need to evaluate and manage the risks and rewards from different energy sources; and we need consumers, business owners, energy companies and environmentalists to let their voices be heard.
What form of energy is abundant, easy to transport and store and burns cleaner than oil or coal? Flummoxed? It’s natural gas. But because it’s not a “green” energy source, environmentalists have waged war against new natural gas pipelines across the country — especially in the Northeast. This opposition is misguided and harmful to individuals, business owners, the environment and our national security.
To maintain a first-world standard of living, a nation needs abundant, affordable and reliable sources of energy, and natural gas checks all boxes. It’s abundant, with U.S. natural gas production more than 28.8 million mcfs (million cubic feet), according to the Energy Information Administration. At less than $3/mcf, it’s affordable; and the United States had marketed production of 73.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2017. Production for 2018 and 2019 is forecast to be over 10 percent and 12 percent higher, respectively.
It’s also the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
Natural gas produces almost 50 percent less CO2 than anthracite coal, and more than 25 percent less than diesel fuel and heating oil. Some utility companies are forced to use coal or heating oil as substitutes when there’s not enough available natural gas. When environmental activists stop construction of natural gas pipelines, this increases carbon emissions and air pollution — contrary to their stated goals.
While there are inherent risks with pipelines, it’s in a natural gas company’s best interest to make it as safe as possible. Energy companies don’t want to see a pipeline break and have to reimburse a property owner or individual for damages. They just want energy to flow from Point A to Point B with a minimum of expense.
The state of Massachusetts imports liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Yemen, instead of allowing pipelines to be built. Other Northeast states have similar anti-pipeline policies. This is why the cost of electricity is 19-20 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), compared to a national average of 12-13 cents/kWh, versus 9 cents/kWh in Texas. This keeps America more dependent on foreign energy and gives Middle Eastern nations and Russia an advantage in the world energy marketplace. In my opinion, it also compromises our national security.
Environmental activists who oppose natural gas pipelines because they blindly hate all fossil fuels, and/or President Donald Trump, are acting contrary to their stated interests of lower carbon emissions. And the unintended consequences are higher energy prices and a lower standard of living. However, there are some who understand the consequences of this misguided opposition. Patrick Moore, the co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace, said this:
“… I do not accept that the environmental movement should be given a veto over national energy or economic policy. That is for elected governments.
“My strong conviction on who should, and should not, have a veto on environmental issues stems from years of international sustainability work. I’ve had several meetings lately in India on issues around energy and agriculture. About 300 million people, mostly farmers, are without electricity in India. Yet environmental scientists have blocked virtually every hydroelectric project recently proposed to provide electricity, irrigation and flood control.
“As a result of this effective environmental veto, India has embarked on a massive build-out of coal-fired power plants that blacken the skies and provide no irrigation or flood control. This is what results from misguided campaigns led by ill-informed activists who do not think about the consequences of their wrong-headed positions, and demand veto power.
“Let’s avoid this notion of providing a single interest group with a veto over important aspects of energy policy, including pipelines. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid making decisions on crucial energy infrastructure on the basis of sensationalism, misinformation and fear.”
Today we need a rational discussion on energy policy that isn’t run by a single group or agenda. There aren’t any perfect solutions, because we don’t live in a perfect world. We need to evaluate and manage the risks and rewards from different energy sources; and we need consumers, business owners, energy companies and environmentalists to let their voices be heard. We should all work toward the goal to keep the United States economically strong and secure. Regardless of your political views or affiliations, on this we should all agree.