In the days leading up to Super Tuesday, the majority of the Democratic field can only agree on one issue. Time and time again, the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have scored easy political points by decrying the oil and gas industry’s role in climate change. Perhaps no other issue facing the United States today is as volatile or as misunderstood as the debate raging around oil and gas extraction.
On Monday, more than 50 oil and gas executives lent their voice to the conversation with a full-page ad in The New York Times. Within the brief statement, the executives pushed back against spurious claims of corruption and malicious intent by offering up a few rarely-touted positive impacts of oil and gas.
The Everyday Work of Oil and Gas
As the ad states, the oil and gas industry plays a massive role in our daily lives. It does more than keep the lights on (and our iPhones powered up). The United States oil and gas industry has helped reduce domestic energy costs for every US family. The industry has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than any other nation on the planet.
What’s more, the growing international presence of US oil and gas ensures that billions of people around the world have the same access to low-cost energy that US citizens take for granted.
‘Assertions and Emotions’
Right now, about 40 percent of humanity (that’s roughly 3 billion people and counting) have little-to-no access to electricity. While those people work to build a better life, as their governments begin developing an infrastructure to support them, they will need energy to power that change.
Partnerships with the US oil and gas industry can help guide those developing nations into the use of responsible and inexpensive oil and gas. That’s good news for the environment and the poor nations of the world.
Those facts are too often lost in the debate of oil and gas. As Chevron CEO Michael Wirth explained to The New York Times in 2018, “Facts and economics are too often replaced with assertions and emotions … a polarized energy debate prevents billions from realizing the liberating potential of affordable, reliable energy.”
The Energy Race
When Democratic presidential candidates talk about oil and gas, they also talk about the environment. That is, they talk about the potential damage that oil and gas can cause if left unchecked. They do not talk about the enormous strides the industry has made to clean up. They do not speak about the poverty-stricken who benefit from inexpensive energy.
Because those facts are inconvenient. That makes them easy to ignore or obscure. Of course, that job just got a whole lot harder thanks to some energy executives who won’t sit quietly on the sidelines anymore.