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"Stubborn Opposition" To Fossil Fuels May Harm Energy Security: US Energy Secretary Rick Perry

The US Secretary of State Rick Perry is not letting up on his rhetoric against opponents of fossil fuels. This time he has cited energy security as a driving factor for embrace of the energy source.

In a speech at the World Gas Conference in Washington D.C., he said there was “stubborn opposition” to natural gas and other fuels. “The opposition exists even as fossil fuels become cleaner and low-emission natural gas increases its share of total fossil production and use. These opponents flatly reject the all-of-the above strategy, the innovation-driven strategy that’s helping us achieve energy security,” he said, without providing concrete proof of "cleaner" fossil fuels.

Opponents of coal and natural gas plants cite the expense and upkeep associated with such plants as well as their polluting nature as proof that they are uneconomic. While coal plants are being phased out, low prices for natural gas have led to a surge in its popularity. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas accounted for 31.7% of the overall share, the largest among all fuels, of electricity generation last year. But this year is a different story. There is already a shortage of natural gas stockpiles and rising summer temperatures have pushed natural gas futures prices to their highest level.

In a recent Energy Outlook report, British Petroleum stated that coal, oil, and natural gas will account for more than 75% of all energy by 2040. Perry noted that fact. “The answer is not to exclude oil and gas and coal from the world’s energy mix,” he said. “For the sake of energy security. For the sake of economic security. For the sake of national security. I think for the sake of environmental progress. For the sake of our fellow human beings, we must honor the right of every nation to responsibly use every fuel at its disposal.”

That benevolent tone of concern to include all sources of power is absent in Perry’s dealings at home, where he is planning a federal government bailout of sorts for coal and nuclear plants by forcing utilities to source their power needs from such plants to ensure baseload power. He has been circumspect about the plan’s details. In a recent interview, he was reportedly “vague” about the exact timetable of his plan. He said his department was still looking at “different contingencies and impacts.” “The economics is secondary from my perspective,” he told journalists. “There is the potential to see some really chaotic attacks in this country. That is DOE’s responsibility to make sure that does not happen.”

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on June 27, 2018

He calls it stubborn opposition, but just because CCS & natural gas are making fossils as a whole somewhat cleaner does not negate the need (or the existing ability) to more quickly shift to carbon-neutral fuels. This stubborn opposition comes from the portion of advocates and industry who recognize decarbonization is a race against the clock

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