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Senator Heinrich is coming with jobs and clean air

Paul Gessing, director of the Rio Grande Foundation, wrote about the need to continue using oil and gas without once acknowledging climate change and its effects. No mention of heat domes, wildfires across the entire western United States, and a “drought” that has been running since the late 1990s and is now considered by experts to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Gessing also managed to write an op-ed attacking Senator Heinrich’s new resolution on electrification that was almost completely devoid of facts.

He claims that “most Americans” rely on natural gas. This is wrong: 60% of Americans use electric stoves and those stoves are generally cheaper than gas stoves.

He says that only “radical environmentalists” would call for the end of natural gas. This is wrong: In May this year, the International Energy Administration, an organization that works to secure oil supplies for industrialized nations, called for an end to all new oil and gas exploration and stated that the role of fossil fuels should reverse from 80% of global energy needs today to less than 20% by 2050.

Relying on fear mongering rather than actual debate, Gessing says that electrification means a government-enforced abandonment of natural gas in homes and businesses. This is wrong: the resolution has a goal of “supporting and incentivizing the residential and commercial deployment of electric technologies;” this is not forcing anything.

Mr. Gessing said that electrification will come “at great economic cost” to the ratepayer, but he ignores the fact that the G20 countries have subsidized oil and gas with $3.3 trillion just since 2015. This is the equivalent of three times the cost of the US electric grid. What we’re really talking about, then, is shifting subsidies, not creating new ones.

Another unpleasant fact Mr. Gessing ignores are the costs of fossil fuel energy that Americans pay for: climate change-related weather disasters, health problems from polluted air, cleanup of orphaned and abandoned wells, and the inability to use public lands for other economic purposes because of oil and gas activity.

Mr. Gessing really goes off the rails when he starts talking about gas versus electric stoves. He claims that electric stoves are not desirable in restaurants. However, electric induction technology heats a pan faster than gas, has no wasted heat pouring into the kitchen and requires about 25% less energy. Since most restaurants survive on thin profit margins, anything that makes a significant difference to the bottom line will be adopted.

Mr Gessing is correct about one thing. China does now emit more CO2 than any other country. However, he is also well aware that the U.S. still produces far more greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Furthermore, just because China (and India, Russia and some other countries) are not doing what they should and can — although they aren’t doing nothing — is not a reason for the U.S. to avoid taking action.

As Mr. Gessing noted, another so-called “radical,” President Roosevelt, used his New Deal to bring electricity to “rural and impoverished areas.” That, Mr. Gessing says, “was a worthwhile effort to improve lives.”

Sen. Heinrich and President Biden are also working to improve lives. A recent study by Rewiring America states that “There is no other public infrastructure investment that can so efficiently deliver monthly cost savings to consumers, improve our air quality indoors and out, create jobs in every zip code in the country, and cut so much in carbon emissions” than electrifying the economy with renewables.