Climate Change Threats are Real – Policy Solutions Must Be As Well
Posted February 13, 2019
The Green New Deal is getting quite a bit of attention in Washington right now, and naturally, people want to know what the natural gas and oil industry thinks about the proposal to revolutionize America’s economy and way of life – since it appears the plan aims to eliminate natural gas and oil, the nation’s leading fuels, right when there’s record energy demand by consumers.
My reaction is that any proposal that would fundamentally reorder American energy – and the way of life in this country – should first be measured by its impacts on American consumers, the economy and the country’s opportunity for future prosperity.
Especially this one. There’s little question that GND would significantly alter America as we know it.
Transportation, housing, work spaces, communications and modern necessities – all are powered or supported by natural gas and oil. Add to those climate progress and health, because natural gas is the primary reason U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest level in a generation, and products made from natural gas and oil are critically important to modern medicine and better living (see some of the items listed in this report, beginning on page 51).
At this point we don’t know a lot about GND beyond the various fact sheets its sponsors have issued. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) questions whether the proposal is “technologically or politically feasible.” Furthermore, GND is so expansive the economic impacts are virtually impossible to model. OnLocation CEO Lessly Goudarzi, whose firm has consulted on integrated energy models and analyzed energy/environmental policies for more than 30 years, said the “scope of the Green New Deal proposal, with its extremely rapid time frame for a massive transformation of the U.S. energy system, makes it infeasible to conduct a reliable, informative analysis using existing analytic tools.”
What we do know: Energy from abundant U.S. natural gas and oil drives economic growth and opportunity, technological innovation, helps Americans generate wealth and empowers solutions to daily and long-term challenges, while making America stronger and more secure.
Natural gas and oil dominate the U.S. energy mix, serving as fuels and foundational elements in countless products consumers use every day – and they are projected to remain our leading energy sources for decades to come. Indeed, natural gas is the reliable, essential partner for renewable energies such as wind and solar.
For all the fanfare about the Green New Deal for the future, natural gas and oil work for Americans right now and promise benefits for the foreseeable future. Abundant energy from domestic natural gas and oil powers the modern U.S. economy, supports 10.3 million jobs and creates opportunity for social mobility and economic prosperity.
As such, policymakers must balance the need to meet record consumer energy demand reliably and affordably for every American family – while enabling environmental progress – against the potential impacts on 21st-century American life that many already are associating with the Green New Deal. America’s energy model must be practical and realistic. Here’s what Ernest Moniz, energy secretary for President Obama, said about GND:
“The idea we're going to have by 2050 ... a 100 percent renewable system is not realistic, straightforwardly, certainly at a reasonable cost. It doesn't violate the laws of physics to do it. But that doesn't mean it is politically or economically implementable, and I think that is the issue.”
“I just cannot see how we could possibly go to zero carbon in the 10-year timeframe. It's just impractical. And if we start putting out impractical targets, we may lose a lot of key constituencies who we need to bring along to have a real low-carbon solution on the most rapid timeframe that we can achieve.”
Below, some of what others are saying.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
“I'm a little bit tired of listening to things that are pie in the sky, that we never are going to pass, are never going to afford. I think it's just disingenuous to promote those things. You've got to do something that's practical.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley
“There are two competing approaches to addressing our country’s challenges such as climate change, healthcare and income inequality. In one approach, as exemplified by the 'Green New Deal,' government asserts control over most of our economy …”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, talking about a provision in one of the Green New Deal’s fact sheets to lessen the necessity of air travel:
“That would be pretty hard for Hawaii.”
Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan is a little more direct:
“It is difficult to take this unrealistic manifesto seriously, but the economic and social devastation it would cause if it moves forward is serious and real ... threatens to destroy workers’ livelihoods, increase divisions and inequality, and undermine the very goals it seeks to reach. In short, it is a bad deal.”
More in LiUNA’s tweet:
Statement of #TerryOSullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, On the “Green New Deal” #LIUNA #GreenNewDeal pic.twitter.com/OdbgkQ0S4q— LIUNA (@LIUNA) February 8, 2019
As we say, U.S. energy policy must be practical, and it must factor at the highest level the need of Americans to have reliable, affordable energy supply. API President and CEO Mike Sommers:
“Future energy policy has to be built on reality and not fantasy, and the proposal that was released … is based on fantasy, and in my view, really doesn't even deserve a lot of talk, a lot of attention, because it's not realistic at all in terms of what our future energy needs are going to be.”
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.