DAILY SIGNAL: Energy Expert Stresses Need for More Pipelines After Train Derailment

An energy expert says the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, underscores the need for more pipelines to transport potentially hazardous substances.

“This recent rail accident in East Palestine in Ohio has shown us that we need more pipelines to carry these potential dangerous chemicals, rather than using road and rail,” says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment at The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

“Because with pipelines, the container stays still and the product moves within it. And the pipelines are often buried in the ground,” Furchtgott-Roth says. “So, they’re out of the way of other traffic, pedestrians, anyone like that, and the potential damage is very, very low.”

Furchtgott-Roth added:

With rail and truck, these substances are going through people’s communities, and they are generally very safe, but occasionally accidents do happen.

But pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil and natural gas.

Furchtgott-Roth joins today’s episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss Thursday’s passage of HR 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, in the House of Representatives and her thoughts on President Joe Biden’s anticipated veto of the bill.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Samantha Aschieris: Diana Furchtgott-Roth is here with us in the studio. Diana is the director of the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment at The Heritage Foundation. Diana, thanks so much for joining us.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth: Oh, it’s great to be with you, Samantha.

Aschieris: Yes, I am very happy to have you back in studio. And first thing’s first, I wanted to talk to you about the news that the House recently passed HR 1, which, as my colleague Virginia Allen reports, is aimed at lowering energy costs and increasing energy independence in America. Now, 221 Republicans and four Democrats voted for it. So before we get any further, I wanted to get your thoughts on this bill and its significance.

Furchtgott-Roth: Samantha, this is such an important bill and it’s coincidental that it came out the same week as our Heritage report “Winning the Cold War: A Plan for Countering China.” Because the most important thing we can do to counter China is change our environmental policy and our environmental policies make the United States weaker and China stronger.

We’re mandating net-zero 2050. We’re mandating electric cars. And China makes most of the wind turbines, most of the solar panels, most of the electric batteries for these cars. So unless we change our environmental policies, we are going to become dependent on China, rather than energy-independent, using all our supplies of oil and natural gas.

Aschieris: And last time we spoke, we discussed key minerals and their use in electric cars. Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest recently told Virginia that this bill deals with critical minerals and that we know that many of the critical minerals we obtain today come from China. So similar to like what we discussed last time, can you walk us through some of the ways the U.S. can secure these critical minerals that Guest is referencing and relating to what we’ve discussed previously?

Furchtgott-Roth: Many of the critical minerals are in China and there are also critical minerals in Latin America and Africa. And China is dominating those critical minerals in Africa and Latin America.

We had a guest, Francois Baird, at The Heritage Foundation who advised us that the best way to influence individual African countries was to support the rule of law in these countries. And that way, team up with some of the entities that support the rule of law and would be amenable to American cooperation and American purchase of such minerals.

But what’s really important is that the mandates we have in the United States for renewable energy and for electric vehicles really play into China’s hands, because China has an advantage in the costs of capital, the costs of labor, and the costs of energy.

Let’s look at the cost of capital. The Chinese government subsidizes Chinese companies so they can borrow money at a lower rate. Then in terms of labor, the Chinese wage rates are much lower and they have access to forced labor in Xinjiang. Some people say even slave labor.

And then let’s look at energy. China is making coal-fired power plants, opening several a week, and they do not have the same regulatory structures as coal-fired power plants have in the United States. Emissions of carbon in China are going up. They’ve gone up by about 5,000 million metric tons over the past 15 years, in contrast to American carbon emissions that have gone down by about a 1,000 million metric tons over the past 15 years.

Aschieris: Now, I also wanted to get your thoughts on the role President Joe Biden is playing here. He will likely veto this bill. According to a White House statement, “The administration wants to work in bipartisan manner with Congress to address lowering energy costs, permitting reform, and addressing energy concerns. However, HR 1 will take us backwards. Therefore, if presented to the president in its current form, he would veto it.” What does this tell us about the administration’s priorities?

Furchtgott-Roth: Well, it tells us that the administration does not prioritize lowering electricity and gasoline costs for Americans, because renewable energy mandates make electricity more expensive.

So let’s look at wind farms for example. Every wind farm has to have an associated natural gas power plant for when the wind stops blowing. So when the wind stops blowing, the power plant kicks in. But it’s less expensive for the power plant to run continuously rather than running only when the wind turbines stop working. So right away, the cost of energy and the cost of electricity are higher.

And the administration should realize that Americans are tired of high electricity bills, they’re tired of high gasoline costs, and we are not making the environment any cleaner by doing this. It has a very tiny effect on our environment.

And moving energy-intensive manufacturing over to China raises global emissions because this manufacturing is produced with dirtier energy than here in the United States. It’s our use of clean natural gas that has made our air cleaner over the past 20 years. You can go to the Environmental Protection Agency website, look at the six criteria pollutants and see how they’ve all gone down over the past 20 years.

Aschieris: I wanted to also expand on this conversation with this bill, and compared to what the Biden administration has pursuing in terms of its energy policies and that role that it’s played in, specifically, driving up the cost of gas and how this bill presents an alternative plan to what the Biden administration has been doing.

Furchtgott-Roth: What this plan does is make it easier for permitting, easier to get leases, easier to use America’s resources. We have vast resources of oil and natural gas. We are the Saudi Arabia of oil and natural gas, and if we were to use it, then prices of gasoline and energy and electricity would go down and Americans would see the equivalent of a tax cut.

So the argument that the other side is giving, the argument that President Biden is giving for vetoing the bill is that this would be bad for the environment, that this would cause more global emissions. But as I said before, moving energy-intensive manufacturing offshore increases global emissions rather than reducing them. You can’t just move emissions around in the globe and say that you’ve reduced them.

Aschieris: I wanted to also dive a little deeper into a piece that you recently wrote for the Daily Caller News Foundation titled “Beijing Biden’s Energy Policies Will Lose the New Cold War.” You write, “Our current policies make China stronger and America weaker.” What do you mean by this?

Furchtgott-Roth: What I meant by that is that seven of the largest 10 solar manufacturers are in China, seven of the largest wind turbine manufacturers are in China, and many electric battery manufacturers are in China. So by requiring renewable energy and by requiring electric cars, this means we give more business to China. So if we’re in a cold war with China, we don’t want to be giving our enemy more business.

And at the same time, this means that we use less of our own natural gas. In fact, our administration is slowing down approval of pipelines, making it more difficult for our producers to get natural gas out to where Americans can use it and where our European and other allies can use it, because they need natural gas since Russia has cut off their supplies of natural gas. So it would benefit everybody if we had more pipelines.

Plus, this recent rail accident in East Palestine in Ohio has shown us that we need more pipelines to carry these potential dangerous chemicals rather than using road and rail. Because with pipelines, the container stays still and the product moves within it.

And the pipelines are often buried in the ground. So they’re out of the way of other traffic, pedestrians, anyone like that, and the potential damage is very, very low. With rail and truck, these substances are going through people’s communities, and they are generally very safe, but occasionally accidents do happen. But pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil and natural gas.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Department of the Interior, they’re all working to slow down pipelines, and that really works against the interests of the United States.

Aschieris: As you mentioned at the top of the show, and as we’ve previously reported on the show, The Heritage Foundation recently released an extensive report titled “Winning the Cold War: A Plan for Countering China” and the paper addresses ways to address the energy and climate challenges. Can you walk us through the issue at hand and some of the recommendations that are included in the paper?

Furchtgott-Roth: Yes. Well, the issue is that the United States needs to be independent in its energy, just as people have been saying for decades, before the discovery of massive amounts of oil and natural gas. And we shouldn’t be dependent on China for crucial energy supplies. And the report has several recommendations.

So first, Congress and the executive branch should identify and discourage environmental policies that benefit China or make America dependent on Chinese energy sources and supply chains.

Second, Congress should pass laws that prevent state and federal agencies from imposing regulatory requirements, like California is doing, that make critical infrastructure or supply chains more dependent on China.

Plus, the federal government should enhance scrutiny of environmental, social, and governance ratings and policies and prevent regulators from taking actions to promote what’s known as ESG scores and encourage pensions to invest in ESG-type funds.

Plus, the government should educate foreign governments, private companies, and civil society about the Chinese government’s manipulation of environmental, social, and governance issues.

And finally, we should prevent the imposition of the myth of net-zero policies at the state level. Samantha, I have a talk that I gave to interns called “Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Net-Zero 2050.” I asked, “How many believe in Santa Claus? How many believe in the Tooth Fairy? And how many believe in net-zero 2050?” Our interns passed great. None of them believed in either of the three.

Aschieris: That’s good. That’s good.

Furchtgott-Roth: But when I’ve given this talk on other college campuses, I get numerous hands of people who actually believe we can go to net-zero 2050.

Aschieris: Wow.

Furchtgott-Roth: But it’s just a myth. I mean, even if the whole of the United States was covered with wind turbines and solar panels, we would still need fossil fuels in order to make those wind turbines and solar panels.

Aschieris: Well, Diana, thank you so much for joining us. Just before we go, any final thoughts?

Furchtgott-Roth: Just that HR 1, the energy bill, would do a lot to counter China’s power that it has over the United States. And we should be encouraging its passage, not just in the House of Representatives, but also in the Senate, and we should be encouraging President Biden to sign it.

Aschieris: Great. Thank you so much for joining us.

Furchtgott-Roth: Thank you.

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The post Energy Expert Stresses Need for More Pipelines After Train Derailment appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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