WASHINGTON – The president of the American Petroleum Institute questioned the speed at which government is moving to shift the world’s economy away from fossil fuels in a speech Wednesday.
Looking at California’s plan to eliminate vehicles that run on gasoline and diesel in favor of electric models by 2035, Mike Sommers said it was likely to put further strain on a power grid that was already over-taxed, causing more blackouts like seen this past summer.
“Bottom line, California is trying to force an energy change that it simply isn’t ready for and technology doesn’t exist to support,” he said in a speech at the lobbying group’s annual State of American Energy event in Washington. “No one should be surprised when reality keeps interfering. The constant impulse to mandate and make headlines never quits easy and never ends well.”
Countries around the globe, including the European Union and China, are moving on a similar track to California, posing a major threat to an oil industry that currently supplies the energy for almost all the world’s cars, trucks and planes.
But with climate change of growing concern, industries across the board are moving to shift to less carbon intensive options, like electric cars and jets powered by low-carbon biofuels.
Such a transition is expected to take decades at least, but Sommers is arguing against government efforts to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels, even as he called climate change, “the most important issue of our time.”
On the campaign trail Biden pledged to halt oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, putting the Gulf of Mexico’s offshore industry on an expedited decline. And he said he would do away with tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
Sommers said there were “a number of areas of common ground” with the Biden administration, citing the industry’s efforts to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas fields. But he was critical of Biden’s plan to put a halt on leasing, saying it would result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, particularly in rural areas for which the oil and gas boom has offered an economic lifeline over the past decade, as well as increasing U.S. dependence on oil and natural gas from abroad.
“Our new president and Congress have some big decisions to make on energy,” Sommers said. ‘Energy abundance or foreign dependence. American jobs or outsourced jobs. Economic revival or small-town decline.”