By Clarence ‘Bud’ Albright
You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see the Biden Administration’s hostility to the traditional U.S. energy mix sets us up for long-term trouble. The president made it clear on his first day in office he would cede America’s hard-won gains in energy projects that led to new dominance in global energy production.
With the stroke of a pen, he laid low the cause of American energy independence by canceling the permitting needed to build the Keystone XL pipeline. When finished, it would have supplied as much as 880,000 barrels per day of petroleum and be an important part of keeping the U.S. as a major reducer of prices on the world energy market.
Team Biden crowed about their victory, showing its indifference to the devastating effect such policies have on all Americans as it set the stage for energy price spikes and the overall inflation we’ve experienced over the past year.
Most people want to reduce human carbon emissions as part of our commitment to ensuring the overall protection of the planet. That doesn’t mean we must reject the realities inherent in sustaining life now. America cannot pretend to insulate itself against the realities of global energy production and expect it will inure to any significant benefit — either to today’s world carbon footprint or to competitive pricing which benefits the world. Thinking so is pure folly.
Does the administration understand this? Does it grasp even the most basic understanding of the global energy market, let alone the general economics of supply and demand? We’ll soon know once a project that has been through an exhaustive examination and received positive regulatory reviews reaches its final decision point.
The Alaskan Willow Project has been under regulatory consideration for over five years. Each review ultimately yielded positive regulatory decisions, yet we’re still waiting for a green light to break ground in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.
Willow, which really began to gather steam in 2017 has undergone every scientific and environmental review imaginable. All have been conducted to a satisfactory conclusion. Yet the Biden administration refuses, at least to this point, to accept the science of these reviews. They are attempting an override using last-minute political maneuvers. Just as they did with the Keystone pipeline, these propeller heads can quash anything that doesn’t suit their fancy.
What’s at stake is the production of 180,000 barrels of energy at peak, $10 billion in tax-royalty revenue, nine million hours of jobs over five years (75% of them union labor), and 300 permanent jobs. The incalculable strengthening of America as a dominant player in global energy markets is also on the table. For far too long we have been at the mercy of the production and pricing whims of the Saudis, the Russians, and the Venezuelans. Willow would help turn that around.
It should be easy to move ahead despite the braying of the usual critics. Indeed, those most immediately affected by the project, Alaskan natives, want the Willow Project approved. Doreen Levitt, the director of natural resources for the Native Iñupiat Community says the decision of whether go forward is personal for her people.
“For us this decision is personal. That’s because the future of the Willow Project will have a direct impact on each person in our community. Willow has followed a thorough and lengthy federal review process, one that threatens to drown out the voices of us most directly impact(ed).”
Laborers International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan called Willow “essential for our nation’s security and global competitiveness.” Of Willow developer Conoco-Phillips he says the company has, “Demonstrated a fifty-year track record of environmentally and socially responsible development of the North Slope, and we believe that Willow is the right project in the right place at the right time.”
Politically popular, factually hollow yowlings from so-called environmental activists should not drive critical U.S. energy policy decisions. The Willow Project is a vitally important part of America’s future energy security. The regulators, economists, security experts, and the Alaskan people agree: America needs the Willow Project.
Short-term politics must not get in the way of something so important to everyone’s future. It’s time to give the project the green light. Let Willow’s vital energy resources benefit America and start flowing sooner rather than never.
Clarence ‘Bud’ Albright is a former Assistant United States Attorney, former Deputy Associate U.S. Attorney General, Energy Company Executive, and U.S. Undersecretary of Energy.
This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy
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