Natural gas facing resistance
Editor’s note: This guest commentary from Sen. Shelley Capito initially appeared in The Washington Times.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if the Appalachian region were an independent country, it would be the third-largest natural gas producer in the world. Job creation and economic growth through the natural gas industry cannot be overstated. It’s why I’ve pushed so hard to create a natural gas storage hub in West Virginia.
Sadly, natural gas growth faces tremendous headwinds over the next four years.
Despite calls for “unity,” in some of his first actions President Biden managed to kill thousands of jobs and paralyze America’s energy industry with executive orders. The Biden moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands is an economic, energy, and national security disaster rolled into one. This order moves America from energy independence back to relying on foreign adversaries for energy — countries that have much laxer environmental standards. This action is indicative of the incoming climate agenda that will have drastic impacts on our nation’s energy sector.
The forces against natural gas are growing. And they’re against natural gas, nuclear, or any other energy source that’s not blessed by the Green New Deal.
Ironically, Democrats are targeting natural gas production and use it as a primary target for additional legislation and regulation though increased natural gas production actually helped lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. oil and gas industry reduced emissions by nearly 2 percent between 1990 and 2018. A 24 percent reduction in methane emissions is impressive, but what is more remarkable is that these reductions took place during a time when production increased by more than 70 percent.
By the way, a huge part of reducing those emissions was through the development of natural gas pipelines, which most environmentalists don’t even want built!
On top of this, President Biden installed Gina McCarthy and John Kerry as his climate czars. Both are unaccountable to Congress and have made clear they’re the ones in charge of the administration’s ambitious climate agenda.
By claiming every policy issue touches climate, McCarthy and Kerry have broad jurisdiction do their bidding. They’ve made no secret of their ultimate goal: banning fossil fuels. In fact, Kerry suggested folks should “Go work on solar panels.”
I have great skepticism when I hear this administration talk about giving industry time to transition and giving workers clean energy jobs. Tell that to the Keystone XL pipeline workers. Where are their clean energy jobs? Do they get a new clean energy job tomorrow? Next month? Next year?
Coal, natural gas, oil, solar, wind, nuclear, biomass: our country has been incredibly blessed with a variety of energy resources, and using all of them keeps America safe and running.
Natural gas, in particular, burns cleaner, moves safely and efficiently in our world-class national pipeline network, and is an essential feedstock for several domestic supply chains like medical supplies, which are critical now more than ever during this pandemic.
Environmentalists fighting against natural gas can’t see the forest for the trees. Eliminating natural gas from our energy mix will lead to higher utility costs and less reliability — just ask California.
Renewables can’t power our country at 100 percent of the time, and battery technology can’t fill the gaps. But, we can address climate change together though innovation and technology. Sadly, President Biden’s climate executive orders really alienated key players in the solution. That’s not a way to build unity. That’s picking winners and losers.
That’s pitting American jobs against each other. That’s creating resentment.
This country has always risen to every challenge we’ve faced. This climate challenge is no different. Through American ingenuity, we will find solutions.
Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., serves on the Appropriations, Environment and Public Works, Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and Rules and Administration.