Op-EdOpinion

HOLLIE: America’s Energy Hypocrisy

In America, we have a vast amount of affordable and reliable energy. But some of us take having access to energy for granted. We expect to plug in and charge our mobile devices, flip a light switch and click on the television. And without fail, it all works. It’s not until our power and way of life is interrupted that most of us think about energy and where it comes from.

California just endured its fourth round of blackouts and revealing that having reliable electricity is an economic privilege, and interviews from across the state suggest those less affluent continue to have more losses and were disproportionately forced off the grid. And the state’s plan to remedy this disparity failed many disadvantaged residents and organizations when it was needed the most.

As of today, Californians already pay among the highest rates in the U.S. for their power, and, unfortunately, these costs are projected to rise even more. These increases often have a higher burden on low-income households that already struggle to keep up with rising cost, leading many down the path to energy poverty. The issue, however, plagues not only California residents but many across the country including in Pennsylvania, where utility rates for customers are much higher than neighboring states. In Georgia, a study finds energy consumption among the highest in America, and in

The irony is, each state listed has an abundance of natural resources that can be accessed. But lawmakers, caving to environmentalists and special interest groups that don’t speak for the poor, continue to put forth  expensive policy ideas like the Green New Deal that promote false hope and unrealistic outcomes for those who already grapple each month to make ends meet. A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to speak with several residents of Richmond, Virginia, who face these challenges. And it breaks my heart to see a single mother who must decide on whether to feed her children or pay the electric bill. That’s a choice no American citizens should have to make.

Today we use more energy than ever before, and to keep up with the growing demand, we need an approach that makes better use of what we have, especially if it can lower costs, create jobs and increase funding to critical services we rely on like roads, emergency management, and education. A recent Shale Crescent USA study shows end users have saved $ increased its crude oil imports from foreign countries from 5 percent in 1992 to 57 percent in 2018. This is a glaring example of hypocrisy that’s inane, and here’s why. Booming shale production helped the U.S. overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s top oil exporter for the first time ever this year. And it begs the question: how can our natural resources be worthy enough to supply other countries, but not good enough for us here at home?

We need market-oriented energy policy that will allow America to keep exploring using innovative technology like seismic surveys to develop our resources safely and follow the example of environmental stewardship set by areas like Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The port serves as a major oil and gas hub on the Gulf Coast with some of the largest boat and marine companies in the world operating from there. It’s also a commercial and fishing Mecca that continues to amaze scientists and researchers from around the world.

During the California blackout, many residents are not able to cook and have relied on flashlights and oil-burning lamps for lighting. And with classes canceled again many parents had to rearrange their livers for child care. We live in the 21st century in the richest country in the world, and nobody here should be without electricity.

And the truth is, nature doesn’t give us what we need to survive — we must create it through energy development. Oil and natural gas have allowed us to create a life that Americans have grown to appreciate, thanks to innovations from pharmaceuticals to agriculture to mobile devices. We are better off now than ever before and politicians shouldn’t deny our comfort and prosperity to the least fortunate among us.

Derrick Hollie is a political strategist and the president of Reaching America, an organization that addresses complex social issues impacting African-American communities.

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