Energy Affordability Must Be a Top Concern for Newly Elected

Energy Affordability Must Be a Top Concern for Newly Elected
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

When knowledgeable voters in Colorado say no to onerous and unnecessary drilling setbacks that would kill jobs and ban energy production in many parts of the state, and when Alaskans reject new, unnecessary permitting rules and fees on an industry that serves as the state’s largest source of government funding — among other rejected state ballot measures that would have limited energy opportunities and increased energy prices while offering zero help to our environment — you would think those who oppose an all-of-the-above energy strategy would finally get the point.

When it comes to higher energy costs and longer unemployment lines, we should all say no thanks.

Unfortunately, many anti-economic opportunity advocates refuse to listen. Case in point: The new post-election mantra among some is the cry for a “green new deal” in 2020, to end use of fossil energy. 

While energy diversity should be a great rallying cry, ending fossil energy offers nothing more than economic hardship. Utilizing all our abundant energy, while continuing to pursue sensible yet aggressive environmental solutions is the only appropriate course for families across our great nation.  

Calls for increased partisanship in the energy debate should be vigorously pushed aside by our newly elected leaders.

Despite Big Green collectively spending hundreds of millions more this past election cycle trying to pit energy against the environment, most voters didn’t bite. Leading into Election Day, poll after poll showed that Americans didn’t see energy production and a safe environment as an either-or option. In fact, polling showed most Americans – 99 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats – supported policies that promoted energy independence and reduced dependency on foreign resources.

No other issue attracted such universal support.

That polling, and this month’s election results, show that safe energy production and infrastructure remain what they’ve always been: A non-partisan, cross-aisle issue. We all need electricity to turn on our lights and charge our phones, fuel to drive to work and school, air conditioning to cool our homes and, as we’re all being reminded now, heat to warm our homes.

We also all need clean water and air, a pair of must-haves industry and government have significantly improved in each of the past several decades.

Thanks to improved technology and procedures, plus a set of federal, state and local regulations that is second to none globally, the industry has helped America continue its leadership in environmental stewardship. In 2017 alone, the U.S. reduced its carbon emissions by 0.5 percent, the most of all major countries, according to the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Greenhouse gas emissions have declined 2.7 percent since 2016and emissions from large power plants have declined 4.5 percent since 2016 and 19.7 percent since 2011, federal data shows. What’s more, the U.S. was the global leader in decreasing carbon dioxide emissions in 2017, and net greenhouse gas emissions decreased more than 11 percent between 2005 and 2016.

The U.S. is leading the world in environmental performance. The same can be said economically – thanks, in large measure, to our robust and diverse energy output.

By producing and exporting energy at never-before-seen rates and growing our network of pipelines and transmission lines, the nation has undergone its best economic revival in generations. The unemployment rate, for instance, is at our lowest in decades. Families nationwide have experienced noticeable increases in disposable income, job growth and economic investment.

Communities have been revitalized. Foot traffic at storefronts, restaurants, hotels and small businesses in regions where energy production is a way of life is up. In Texas, consumers saved nearly $60 billion in energy costs over the past 10 years. In Colorado, they saved almost $12.4 billion, and those in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia saved more than $75 billion collectively.

Unfortunately, many want much of the debate to remain focused on the false argument that we must choose to either develop our energy or protect the environment, a regularly dispelled myth that only polarizes the issue more and hurts Americans trying to make ends meet.  This is especially harmful to those in poverty, on a fixed income or living paycheck to paycheck, many of whom see a dangerously-high, double-digital percentage of their take-home income go toward energy-related expenses. 

Real-world reality shows lowering these costs and helping neighbors less well-off requires a balanced mixture of all available resources. That means finding zones where the wind gusts the most and the sun shines the brightest, areas where traditional, reliable sources like natural gas and oil are plentiful, and utilizing our nuclear, clean coal and hydroelectric resources.

The discussion needs to be rooted in science and reality, not partisanship and politics. 

Now is the time for our elected leaders—beginning with our Election Night winners—to listen to their constituents and start agreeing about the energy solutions we need to power our lives and economy, safely and cost-effectively.

David Holt is President of the Consumer Energy Alliance

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