Russian troops hadn’t yet begun their full-on assault on Ukraine late Wednesday when the rallying cry came from the American oil and gas industry.
“As crisis looms in Ukraine, U.S. energy leadership is more important than ever,” the American Petroleum Institute, the powerful industry lobby group, wrote on Twitter with a photo that read: “Let’s unleash American energy. Protect our energy security.”
The crux of the industry’s argument is that any effort to restrain drilling in America makes a world already reeling from high oil prices more dependent on oil and gas from Russia, a rival and belligerent fossil fuel superpower.
The industry’s demands have focused on reversing steps the Biden administration has taken to start reining in the production of fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change.
The administration should release permits for drilling on federal lands, the lobby urged, and push ahead with leasing more tracts for offshore oil and development. The A.P.I., which condemned the invasion, also called on President Biden to accelerate permits for energy infrastructure and to roll back legal and regulatory uncertainty — industry speak for getting rules and lawsuits out of the way.
The crisis “has the given industry a great talking point,” said Kathy Hipple, a finance professor at the MBA in Sustainability program at Bard College and a research fellow at the Ohio River Valley Institute, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on oil and gas. But the industry misses the point that “we’re overly dependent on fossil fuels,” she said.
For one, experts are in agreement that nations around the world need to stop approving new coal-fired power plants, and new oil and gas fields, to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, Professor Hipple said. “Does anyone want to continue to be dependent on oligarchs in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada’s oil, a handful of private companies in the United States? To my mind, that’s not resilient,” she said. [Continue reading…]