By Ron Simmons
Denton Record-Chronicle, Nov. 25, 2022
The current volatility of the European energy market should be a warning to the United States. While record-high prices and fears of “energy sobriety” on the Continent do not appear to be happening this winter, the lack of market stability and an energy policy dreamed up by the environmental fringe are creating an uncertain future. As CNN Business points out, “natural gas futures are still 126% above where they were last October,” and “prices are expected to hit €150 ($150) per megawatt hour by the end of 2023.” This market uncertainty will only hammer small businesses and individuals who are in desperate need of price predictability, especially as inflation continues to rise.
Europe’s over-reliance on renewables and a dependence on nations such as Russia for natural gas are what led them down this path. And if the United States is not careful, we will be in the same situation as our European allies in due time.
While our energy situation is certainly not as dire as Europe’s, the United States is already following in their footsteps due to the policies of President Joe Biden, which are causing volatility in the market.
One day the president is threatening oil companies with a windfall profits tax if they do not increase drilling, and the next he is bowing to environmentalists in New York saying he is trying to shut down all drilling in the country. One day he is calling for all coal plants to be shuttered, and the next his press secretary is saying his words were “twisted” and that is “not what he intended.”
The president can’t have it both ways, but unfortunately for the energy industry, his actions indicate that he is indeed trying to put an end to fossil fuels. He has frozen most new drilling and killed multiple natural gas pipelines. Consequently, we are starting to experience the beginnings of a European market here in the United States. At the end of the day, capital always flees a hostile environment.
Texas should set a national example by rapidly and broadly encouraging Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), which will help enable the continued use of fossil fuels — critical to our economy — while protecting our environment. Through CCUS, CO2 is captured and compressed into a concentrated stream. The CO2 is then ultimately utilized for value or injected into the ground to ensure safe and permanent long-term storage.
Thanks to our abundance of natural resources, Texas can and should maintain its status as the nation’s energy leader, help to improve our environment, all while ensuring our nation doesn’t repeat the mistakes of Europe.
Energy companies and institutions throughout the Lone Star State are working to enhance this technology.
For example, Net Power LLC is building the world’s first “utility-scale gas power plant with carbon capture” in Odessa, Texas. And the Carbon Neutral Coalition (CNC), of which I am an advisory board member, is working to enable the regulatory and economic structure to encourage CCUS.
CNC has laid out a series of incentives to help rapidly deploy carbon capture technology to enhance use of natural gas at our major industrial facilities while keeping a strong check on emissions.
Our European allies are living in a self-imposed market of shortages and uncertainty. President Biden is repeating that mistake. However, we can turn this around. The best future is through smart energy policy and Texas innovation. This will bring stability to the market, which will help individuals, businesses and our communities.
It is past time for the president to stop acting like an environmental extremist and show true leadership on this issue. There is nothing wrong with seeking to safeguard our environment. We have one planet, and we should seek to protect it, but not at the expense of the average American when there is a much better way.
RON SIMMONS is a former Texas state representative and current Advisory Board Member of the Carbon Neutral Coalition.
Originally posted Denton Record-Chronicle.