Give New Leadership--and Energy--a Chance

Give New Leadership--and Energy--a Chance
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The election is over. It’s time to move forward, together.

That’s what President-elect Donald Trump and his opponent Hillary Clinton said in their acceptance and concession speeches, respectively. Both speeches radiated sentiments of unity, working together, and of giving a new-look president a chance to succeed.

All that, perhaps, starts with energy policy.

By all accounts, our next commander-in-chief supports an all-of-the-above energy plan that, in his words, will “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” He’ll do this, he says, by working with Congress to substitute bureaucratic barricades with solutions that will boost innovation and exploration, increase production, add jobs and fortify the economy. 

Most importantly, his plan would help neutralize energy price volatility by letting the marketplace determine what the best blend of energy sources should be, not those who know nothing of the sort.

That’s a good thing.

The cost of energy is embedded in nearly every good and service families and businesses use, which means price spikes often act as a regressive tax on those who can least afford it. With global energy demand likely to rise 25 percent by 2040, with 80 percent of that demand projected to come from fossil fuels, America will need every resource available--oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, you name it. 

That includes renewable energy too. The noteworthy strides solar, wind, and other renewables made over the course of the Obama administration will continue. Trump says he fully supports renewable energy, just “not to the exclusion of other forms of energy.”

That’s good, too. As renewables grow, we’ll need other sources of domestic energy to help bridge the transition and keep the lights in our houses on, the engines in our cars moving, the refrigerators in our kitchens cold, and the electronics we use and depend on charged, at prices we can afford. 

Unfortunately, it’s been ages since we last had harmony on this important issue. This is largely due to a few vocal groups who persist in saying "no" to all energy projects, spread false and intentionally confusing information, and fail to offer any form of sensible solutions.  

Just look at Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley, and Rosario Dawson, all of whom made splashy headlines by supporting a “Keep It in the Ground” movement that condemns energy development and infrastructure regardless of safety or regulatory stringencies, its adverse impact on families and small businesses, or a plan to replace the declined infrastructure.

Champions of the poor, they are not.

These groups engaged in deliberate misinformation and resorted to an assortment of fear tactics to garner funding and support from only a loud minority it turns out.

The silent majority, which includes working-class families, union workers, seniors, and households living below the poverty level, want the economic and environmental benefits America’s energy revolution can provide, like jobs, lower electric bills, and cleaner air, not the endless barrage of regulations they’ve seen in recent years.

Americans want their money to go farther.

They want more of this: Per an IHS Global Insight analysis, the U.S. shale gas production contributed $156 billion to real disposable income in 2015, meaning the average American family saved an extra $1,337.

And they want more of this: Per the Energy Information Administration (EIA), fracking improved the average cost of living for Americans by nearly $750 per year since 2008.

And this: Carbon emissions from electricity generation in 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy says, totaled its lowest amount since 1993, proof that we can safely develop our resources and protect the environment. 

If, as our leaders suggested, we can learn to work together.

That means no more opposing every energy project out of hand and threatening to disrupt America’s electrical grid reliability. No more ill-advised actions against energy. And no more violent protests against pipelines, which remain the safest way to transport energy. It is up to us to propose solutions for the betterment of all people.

That means adopting a policy and a set of regulations that understands how hard it is for many to make ends meet. It means streamlining review processes, lifting restrictions on exploration in the Atlantic, supporting the development of our resources in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico, and relaxing requirements for greenlighting transport facilities and other much-needed infrastructure.

It also means educating Americans about the ins and outs of domestic energy development, the critical role it plays in their everyday lives, and what happens if we continue to import energy from less-environmentally friendly nations.

It means coming together to do something we haven’t done in a very long time: put American families, consumers, farmers, and small businesses first.

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