Now More Than Ever, Americans Must Support Oil and Natural Gas

Now More Than Ever, Americans Must Support Oil and Natural Gas
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many people to put their lives into perspective. Just a few weeks ago, we were going about our lives in an era with the highest ever standard of living in history.  Things were so good in America we had hypothetical crises.

Both during and after her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton often spoke about the likelihood of President Trump starting a nuclear war if elected. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was warning that the world would end in 12 years if climate change isn’t addressed. She even went as far to say, “This is the war – this is our World War II.”

Now, unfortunately, we don’t have to imagine what a real crisis looks like.  

The coronavirus crisis presents unprecedented challenges to our public health system, devastating our economy, and completely halting our way of being. This outbreak has forced America to put its manufactured crises aside. Our society has fallen back on its most basic functions that are often taken for granted and, hopefully, gained a new appreciation for them.  

Energy has always played an indispensable role in our lives, but it’s come under the spotlight as it helps fuel our coronavirus relief efforts. This industry is powering ventilators and other vital hospital supplies; fueling the vehicles that deliver those health care supplies and the goods of businesses trying to stay afloat; and allowing the simple necessities of turning on your lights and TV.

It has never been more important that America has energy.  

Recently AOC made the mistake of a rookie politician: she was too honest. In a now deleted tweet, she rejoiced at the collapse of the energy industry saying  “you absolutely love to see it.”  Millions losing their jobs would argue otherwise…but that isn’t her point. AOC thinks the end of the fossil fuel industry will hasten some green future. 

The inadequacy of green technology (and it is completely undable to power our nation) is the subject for another article.  But imagine this: what if, in addition to the coronavirus crisis, our electric grid was failing?  What if our gas lines were as severe as our food lines? What if on top of death from the virus there was a spike in deaths from extreme cold or heat?  AOC would be the first to summon people to the hallowed halls of Congress for the all important “hearing.” There would be admonitions and accusations and lots and lots of haughty sanctimony. 

But that didn’t happen because energy workers are still doing their job. And we’ve barely even noticed. Sure, when there’s no flour at the market it makes the news. Imagine families in the dark and cold. 

Sometimes we don’t notice how good life is until there’s a disruption. 

In the face of a real crisis, stripped of our usual level of comfort, society has subconsciously embraced the truth that we need fossil fuels. Activists no longer have the time to seek out problems and make unproven accusations, or the emotional bandwidth to spin those baseless problems into a “crisis”. Like the rest of us, they only want an energy supply that will power America’s hospitals and enable employees to continue working from home.

Americans have united around efforts to produce as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as possible and any kind of medicine that may be able to keep us healthy. It’s no longer a concern where these products come from or how they are made. There are no protests over the fact that fossil fuels are the foundation for 80% to 90% of the pharmaceuticals we use, or that many of the surgical masks and PPE being created are made from them as well. The usual calls for renewable energy have also fallen silent – there’s no denying the need for fossil fuels, which generates 63% of America’s electricity, when lives immediately depend on it.

It’s hard to imagine what America would do in response to the coronavirus without the power supplied by our energy industry. But, if the calls of many on the left to ban fossil fuels came to fruition, that’s the reality we would currently be facing. Fortunately, President Trump has spent his time in office encouraging the natural gas and oil industry.  

When America returns to normalcy and its usual level of comfort, it’s important that we maintain our current level of appreciation for the energy industry. Right now, whether everyone is aware of it or not, we are united in cheering for its success. Not only does the industry provide millions of jobs, billions in revenue, and geopolitical leverage, but it is now helping fuel our response to a global pandemic. Hopefully, as a culture, we remember this contribution and don’t return to using the natural gas and oil industry as a substitute threat to society when we lack a real, common enemy.

Daniel Turner is the founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at daniel@powerthefuture.com and follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF



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