The oil industry says the answer is to invest in more fossil-fueled infrastructure, including refineries. Environmental groups believe the key is more electric vehicles on the road and more solar panels on the grid. A conservative think tank called the outage a “red flag” for protesters in the pipeline to stop. Even a coal group got involved, noting that their product doesn’t need to go anywhere.
“Wind and solar power grids are, by their very nature, more distributed, better sized and more resilient than fossil fuel systems,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the environmental group Food and Water Watch, in a report. communicated.
The divisions marked reflect the increasingly vocal energy debate. The oil and gas industry has found itself on the defensive against growing calls to tackle climate change by reducing the consumption of its products. While many fossil fuel advocates agree that reducing greenhouse gases is essential, they point to the colonial shutdown as a sign of the potential risks of making the green transition too quickly.
Colonial Pipeline Co. began restarting the line on Wednesday evening, after a ransomware attack forced the company to shut it down on May 7. The pipeline supplies approximately 45% of the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used on the East Coast.
“Phew, crisis averted, this pipeline is back,” tweeted Chris Horner, lawyer and former senior researcher at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Now back to our regular pipeline shutdown program.”
Conservatives have made connections between the colonial blackout that carried refined fuels and President Joe Biden’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline project that would have transported oil sands crude from Alberta to Nebraska. Even a fully operational Keystone XL would have had no effect on fuel supplies during the Colonial outage, as it would carry lightly processed crude, not gasoline and other refined fuels.
“The shutdown of the colonial pipeline should serve as a wake-up call to pipeline protesters who claim we don’t need the energy carried by these critical pieces of infrastructure,” said the Center of the American Experiment, a think tank Minnesota-based curator. “We depend on oil and natural gas as much as we depend on water, and that reality is not going to change anytime soon.”
Defenders of refining have also used fuel shortages to highlight declining fuel production capacity in the northeast. Where the East Coast previously had 12 refineries, the closures have reduced that number to four. By some estimates, the Atlantic Basin has lost a total of 1.5 million barrels per day of refining capacity since 2008, making the region more dependent on imports and fuel transported by Colonial.
A New Jersey lawmaker urged administration officials to tackle the decline during a briefing on Wednesday. Every time a refinery shuts down, we lose the ability to fuel our defense, the unidentified lawmaker said, according to a person on call.
The coal industry, whose main product is rock that cannot be transported by pipelines, has used the incident to highlight the value of its fossil fuel. The National Mining Association, which represents companies such as Consol Energy Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp., has promoted coal as “a valuable insurance policy in an era of emerging and deceptively dangerous threats.”
“It’s becoming clear that pipelines and just-in-time fuel delivery are a particularly vulnerable link in the equation,” the Washington-based trade group said in a statement Wednesday. “The months of fuel stored on-site at coal-fired and nuclear power plants add a layer of safety and resilience that we have long taken for granted and continue to undervalue.”
Officials in the Biden administration have cited the crisis to highlight the president’s multibillion-dollar plans to invest in the country’s highways, electric vehicle charging and the grid.
“This incident also reminds us that infrastructure is a matter of national security, and the reality is that investing in world-class, modern and resilient infrastructure has always been essential to ensuring our country’s economic security, our national security. and, as we see now, that includes cybersecurity, ”Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a White House briefing.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm noted that at least one group has not been affected by the pipeline failure and the fuel shortages it caused along the East Coast.
“If you drive an electric car, it clearly won’t affect you,” she said in a White House briefing on Tuesday.