APA Vice President Mark Yates: “Critical Infrastructure and Clean Energy Can Save the Midwest Economy“
Americans are proud of the resilience that runs through our veins. As a nation, we have persevered through monumental challenges, often achieving what seemed impossible in order to overcome adversity, protect our liberties and way of life, and to create a country unrivaled in the world. Despite obstacles, the American spirit overcomes and has never faltered.
This year has brought an onslaught of new challenges unique to our modern world. After months of quarantine, record-low global oil demand, and the highest unemployment rates in our nation’s history, America is ready to turn the corner and rebuild its economy. As we move forward, it is apparent that the status quo policies of pre-pandemic life are no longer sufficient to address the needs of this new world.
A huge component of our nation’s future success will be our ability to look inwards as a country, increasing our energy independence by expanding our use of domestic energy resources. We will need to expand pro-business, pro-growth policies which help all energy producers succeed. These policies set the stage for America’s dominance of emerging energy sources like renewable generation, electric vehicles, energy storage technologies, and an upgrade of our nation’s transmission infrastructure.
Over the course of the last century, America has risen through the international ranks to become the world-leading energy powerhouse by harnessing new technologies to facilitate oil and natural gas exploration and production. Now, technological innovation is enabling the United States to sustain one of the most productive clean-energy markets in the world. Already, states embracing clean energy have seen billions in cost-savings for businesses and consumers. When combined, these two energy industries can make America an unstoppable force while revitalizing our rural communities. Strong policy commitments to energy development of all types, and legislative support for needed infrastructure, will help all of America’s energy providers succeed.
The American Midwest, home to millions of hard-workers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, has been hit hardest by the recent economic blows. The success of the oil and gas industry in this region and an overreliance on that one sector has made us vulnerable, as entire local economies have been built around a singular source of revenue. These hard-working Americans face widespread job insecurity, uncertain what the future holds for the oil and gas industry. Investment in energy innovation and infrastructure will help carry Americans out of this uncertainty and into energy independence by diversifying economic portfolios and attracting business development.
Job opportunities in clean energy sources augment and complement those in traditional energy, from operations and maintenance, to construction, manufacturing, to the corporate positions which come with companies seeking clean, cheap energy. Working together, our complementary energy industries can keep Americans working during the busts that always follow the booms.
The growing renewables industry also provides a crucial financial cushion for rural economies built around the energy industry. When coupled with America’s strong natural gas industry, clean energy sources like wind and solar power become a reliable, steady source of electricity and revenue for communities and landowners hosting energy projects. Farmers and ranchers hosting wind or solar projects can enjoy a new source of income through landowner payments, while increased tax revenue provides local counties with the funds to improve schools, roads, and emergency services without raising taxes on citizens.
America’s Heartland is home to enough energy to power the nation perpetually, but the region lacks the infrastructure needed to export this energy to the rest of the nation in need of energy. In order to reach our full economic potential and achieve energy independence, states must continue to support the infrastructure that helps our industries deliver their products. Like the farmers who rely on our farm- to-market roads, energy companies rely on the backbone of pipelines, transmission lines, and energy-storage facilities to deliver life enhancing resources. Improved infrastructure capabilities will allow states to connect centers with high energy resources to centers of high energy demand, bringing economic prosperity back to our region’s energy producers.
The coronavirus pandemic and the oil price crash have exposed the vulnerabilities in our current energy economy. As our nation moves forward, we can secure the bright future we envision by remaining committed to our diverse energy industries and building the policies and infrastructure energy producers need to power the American economic renaissance that lies just ahead. Together, we can remain an energy-secure, economic powerhouse for decades to come.