July is a special month for many Americans. Most of us will take a break eagerly from our busy summer schedules to again celebrate Independence Day. There will be much fanfare with fireworks, parades, picnics, and other patriotic events celebrating our country’s independence from Great Britain in 1776. But when the festivities have ended, only a few will have reflected upon the true meaning of independence and its role in shaping our nation’s character.
Our founding fathers made it clear in the Declaration of Independence that all men were entitled to certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is easy to take for granted those rights and freedoms that we share as Americans. However, it is important that we understand and appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that our forefathers made, so we can enjoy the luxury of freedom. Freedom and independence are cornerstones in the foundation of our country’s heritage. The independent ideology of the American people is a fundamental element of our society and a key to our nation’s prosperity. We must protect that independence at all costs.
One important freedom we must protect is our free enterprise system. American business, and certainly the oil and gas industry, was founded upon the ideology of independence and free-market principles. Those principles allow business to be governed by the laws of supply and demand without government interference and excessive regulation. The dynamic free market has led to innovation and wealth creation, and has established an economic environment, where hard work is rewarded.
But now, it seems free-market capitalism and independence are under attack. Extreme environmental activists work to obstruct energy development and infrastructure projects, reducing our energy options under a false belief that oil and natural gas production and usage are incompatible with environmental progress.
Environmental activists’ greatest strength has been their ability to define an issue as a problem ahead of actually defining the issue itself. Their vision is one of constrained energy choices, with less certainty and reliability, and with less assurance on affordable power.
For some, “climate change” has become the proxy for all things scary, from severe weather events to rising tides, mass migration, agriculture failure, etc. They use fear tactics to scare the masses with predictions of a future doomsday. Their climate conversation is fueled by outrage, which is being fed by fear, and they try to sell us expansive government programs as the solution.
When political or moral ideologies are insulated from critique, they become dogmas. They become belief systems that are cleaved to, not because they have been tested and discussed in the public sphere, but because their adherents just know they are right. These are the perfect conditions in which arrogance and intellectual hollowness can flourish, and in which defensiveness and fury become the default response to any challenges from outside. That is what has happened to environmentalism.
Inexpensive energy is necessary for economic advancement by the world’s poor and for recovery from the staggering economic effects of COVID-19. Ideological opposition to fossil fuels is an anti-human stance that views ordinary people not as problem-solving sources of ingenuity, but only as mouths to feed that produce environmental damage.
Three important tenets separate the U.S. from other nations—Freedom, Rule of Law, and Energy. Today, we see all three under attack. President Biden has called for restoration of failed, Obama-era energy policies that are oblivious to the needs of low-income families, who would be hurt the most.
The U.S. decreased CO2 emissions in 2019 by 140 million tonnes. That’s more than any other country in 2019! Since 2005, U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have fallen 12%, total CO2 emissions have fallen 14%, methane emissions have fallen 4% and power-sector CO2 emissions have fallen 33%. Our industry has proven that over the long term, it is possible to lead in energy production and in environmental stewardship.
What Biden’s anti-energy agenda, combined with Democrat climate proposals like the Green New Deal, does is concentrate more power in the hands of the federal government and central planners, which, at the end of the day, is what they want. We should use our energy abundance to lift people up, which is a different philosophy than a zero-emissions world.
Contrary to claims from extreme environmental activists, cutting U.S. oil and gas production would not magically reduce world energy demand. But it could raise costs significantly for American families and manufacturers, profoundly damage the U.S. economy, diminish our geopolitical influence, and severely weaken our energy security. That’s not a path most Americans want to take.
We should set aside the acrimony and division that has marked too much of past national energy policy discussions and work together as one nation on a positive forward-looking energy future. Our nation’s best energy future can only be achieved through a true all-of-the-above energy strategy.
In his 1946 Independence Day speech, John F. Kennedy said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Those words were never so true. Being mindful of the erosion of our independence and free-market system by extreme environmental activist strategies cannot be over-emphasized.
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