Among the comments this week suggesting a possible turnaround from the Biden administration were Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s telling energy executives to start “producing more now.” She said this in a speech at CERAweek by the S&P World Energy Conference in Houston.
“I think some of the things she said are welcome,” New York University professor Stephen Konin said. “I recognized the need for us to produce more oil and gas at the moment. I reached out to the industry, which wasn’t the case before.” .
Konin, who served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary for science under former President Barack Obama and is now known to be skeptical about how severe the consequences of climate change could be, devoted some criticism to Granholm. He lamented the “systematic rollback of the oil and gas investment community to roll back investments” by the Biden administration, which he said Granholm should address.
But several other members of the energy industry at CERAWeek also said they see positive signs from the Biden administration.
Toby Rice, CEO of EQT, the largest US natural gas producer, has spent his CERAW week pushing a plan to dramatically increase US natural gas exports to replace dirty international coal. He said the Biden administration needs to adjust its priorities on energy policy, but there are indications that Granholm and others are moving in that direction.
“It was clear that management had already focused on ‘How can we make energy cleaner?'” “But there’s a cost aspect, there’s a reliability aspect, and I think we need a more balanced approach to the solutions we offer,” Rice told FOX Business.
In order to implement the EQT plan on natural gas exports, Rice said, “the biggest limiting factor … is just speed,” particularly the lengthy permitting process. And Rice said the quickest statement was “the only support we need” from the government. He said the mere presence of Granholm, EPA Director Michael Reagan and other Biden officials at CERAW week is a positive sign.
“All these people are here at this conference which is amazing. And in this conference, we are talking about how to make energy cheaper, more reliable and cleaner. And we need their participation here,” he said.
AES Corporation Vice President Chris Shelton was at CERAWeek to promote his company’s efforts to decarbonize the technology industry, using wind, solar, and battery storage. He described Granholm’s speech as “balanced” about the short-term need for fossil fuels and the long-term need to switch to alternative energies.
“It highlighted the role Fossil Solutions plays today and the role it plays in the transition process,” Shelton said. “But she also referred to ‘what’ I was just mentioning earlier about the stability, which you can get in the cost of energy from wind and solar, and it’s also clear that decarbonization benefits the … that they bring us.”
David Rubinstein, co-chair of The Carlyle Group, also praised Granholm as “well-qualified” and “very smart”. He stressed that fossil fuels are not going anywhere in the near term and opposed the characterization that the Biden administration is vehemently opposed to energy sources such as natural gas and US oil.
“The perception was that the administration was not very supportive of carbon energy,” he said. “This is not entirely the case.” “Remember, we still get the bulk of our energy from carbon-related energy, and the administration recognizes that. I think the Secretary of Energy has done a very good job.”
Granholm’s demand that the energy industry produce more comes as the United States is increasingly being asked to supply more energy to Europe. The continent is currently highly dependent on Russian oil and natural gas, creating an unsustainable situation as the West aims to fend off Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The energy secretary also sought to refute criticism that the Biden administration crippled the energy industry in its first year, calling it “the same old DC BS.” But not everyone is convinced.
Alaska Republican Senator Mike Sullivan has criticized the administration for allegedly pushing it to fight against US energy production on several fronts.
“Americans know that the only source out of DC these days when it comes to skyrocketing energy prices is the double rhetoric coming from the president and members of his administration,” Sullivan said.
“This unilateral administration has done everything in its power to shut down American energy production,” Sullivan continued, killing energy infrastructure, such as pipelines, and heavily armed U.S. financial institutions for not investing in U.S. energy projects, particularly in Alaska. All while begging dictators around the world to produce more.”
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