In about two months, the election will be upon us.
Television, radio, direct mail, and digital ads are in the air (or on your screen). Unfortunately, so is the aroma of political posturing. Pollsters and pundits would have you believe that there is no chance Joe Biden loses to our sitting president, Donald J. Trump, on November 3.
The oil and gas industry found itself in a similar position four years ago when those same pundits were not only predicting Hilary Clinton as the winner of the White House but also speculating on her cabinet choices.
In 2016, the choice between Clinton and Trump was sharp. Clinton, a lifetime politician with direct experience in the White House, cabinet and U.S. Senate, was up against Trump, a self-made billionaire businessman – who had never sought elected office (ever).
The contrast today between Trump and Biden is even sharper.
Biden has unveiled his climate plan; we only need to look back to 2009 and his failed “green jobs” policy to know what the future of energy will look like if he’s elected. Biden helped spin the Democrats’ $787 billion stimulus package as a transition to a greener future and a new job creator. Five million new green jobs were promised, and natural gas would serve as a bridge fuel and reign supreme until renewable energy could eventually take hold, many, many years into the future.
Back then, it was all about a new clean-energy economy and successfully killing coal. Between January 2009 and January 2017, the coal-mining industry lost more than 40% of its jobs. Fast forward to today, and Biden and his team talk about the climate in terms of “climate catastrophe” and “environmental justice.”
Same plot. Same actors. New title. This time they are targeting all fossil fuels, including natural gas. They want to “keep it in the ground.”
Biden and the green left have zero interest in using natural gas, or oil for that matter, in a transition. He wants to turn off the spigot entirely. This isn’t a threat –it’s a promise. There is no room for fossil fuels in Biden’s plan—anywhere. Never mind that 80% of America’s energy comes from oil, coal and natural gas.
Though we can fully expect a Biden-Harris administration to severely hurt the natural gas industry, no one should bet big on “environmental justice.”
The green-jobs promise of 2009 was such a disaster, the Department of Labor classified many unrelated jobs as green just to juice the totals. It became comical. The largest green-jobs category back then was “janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners.” The septic tank and portable toilet servicing industry had 33 times as many “green” jobs as did solar-electricity utilities under the Obama-Biden fiasco.
This is actually serious stuff, as American taxpayers shouldn’t expect their government to “phony up” the data to make their political point. At a June 6, 2012 hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa forced the acting commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to confirm the list of jobs with dubious greenness counted as green. If you don’t have time to YouTube it, here’s the gist: Issa confirmed, under BLS’ definition, someone who sweeps the floor at a solar panel facility has a green job. So does a bus driver, a college professor teaching environmental science and bicycle-shop employees. Any job consisting of recycling and reusing anything counts as a green job, too, like antique dealers, thrift stores, rare manuscript/bookstores and even a teenager working at a used vinyl record shop—if you can find one. And oh, garbage men are considered employed in the green job industry, too. Like all jobs, they are honorable, but they’re not new nor do they rely on federal handouts and mandates as renewable energy always does.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2019, the average annual pay for oil and gas extraction workers was $96,600—twice that for solar panel installers ($46,850) and almost 60% higher than the average salary for a wind turbine technician ($61,270). I’ll spare you the data for the others.
How can we head off a similar fiasco today?
It starts with detailed, but explainable information for voters.
In a comprehensive evaluation of the two candidates on energy, President Trump and the presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, the American Energy Alliance has concluded that Trump is not only the best choice but the only choice when it comes to a nominee who can continue the mission of advancing responsible American energy production and good-paying jobs while looking out for consumers and the environment.
The potential for our country, and its oil and gas employees, is spectacular. However, a Biden-Harris administration threatens to squander it. Sadly, we have seen some of our own friends in the industry lining up to kiss Biden’s ring claiming they see “common ground.” After more than thirty years around Washington politics, I can assure you it is a strategy that doesn’t work. In fact, Winston Churchill called it “feeding the crocodile in the hope it eats you last.” The point is, you get eaten.
Biden’s energy platform would put Washington masterminds in charge of doling out untold billions of your money to the powerful and politically connected proprietors of various green-energy schemes. All this will do, besides rewarding cronies, is drive up energy costs for all Americans, and hand power back to hostile regimes abroad, after the U.S. finally achieved energy independence last year.
Seventy percent of the world’s solar panels are made in China, and they are the number one manufacturer of wind parts and blades and solar panels. Just one percent of solar panels are made here.
Batteries, plus wind and solar power, require rare-earth minerals and other minerals like cobalt which are not produced in significant quantity in the U.S. China has a record of using its dominance in rare-earths supply as a political weapon. In 2010, they cut off shipments to Japan in the middle of a political dispute. There are enough problems in our relationship with China already. We don’t need federal policies to deliberately make them worse.
Having freed ourselves from dependency on the Middle East for energy, it would be foolhardy to addict ourselves to China for its rare-earth minerals and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for its cobalt. Both countries have miserable environmental and labor conditions—cobalt mining in the DRC is notorious for its abuse of children.
In an ironic twist, China uses coal-generated power to build all these wind and solar parts. They remain the world’s largest consumer of coal, and not by just a little. China uses more than 50% of all the coal consumed in the world, and they’re developing coal plants equal to all those remaining in the U.S on top of that.
In essence, America will pay China loads of money to burn coal so that we can convert our power over to “clean” wind and solar imported from them. That doesn’t make much sense to me. Especially after we spent decades becoming energy independent and finally, for the first time since 1957, we reached our goal last year.
And that’s why the American Energy Alliance is proudly endorsing Donald J. Trump again for president. That’s right, we called it back in 2016, too. We know who will support American jobs and energy, and who won’t. A wealthier America will be a cleaner America and a stronger America. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but win or lose, at least I have the audacity, and history behind me, to stand up and fight for the people working in America’s prolific oil and gas industry and to take action to do what’s right, rather than just posturing to appease the political elite. Remember … these issues are never actually about energy; they’re about power. Putting our energy in the hands of politicians gives them power over your life and the lives of your children. You and they deserve better.
About the author: Dan Kish is a senior vice president for policy at the American Energy Alliance (AEA). Kish has more than 30 years of experience on congressional committees focused principally upon natural resource and energy policies. His service includes the principal resource committees in the House and Senate, including six years as chief of staff for the Republicans on the House Resources Committee and four years on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee staff. His primary focus has been access to resources on government lands and in the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf, and specifically, upon the enormous conventional and unconventional energy there that waits to be allowed to add value to our nation’s well-being. Kish is a graduate of Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana.