- - Wednesday, November 28, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Given the historically significant pressures on the Republican Party in the midterm elections, there were two major things that saved the GOP’s bacon: The thunderous star power of President Trump and the booming economy he has delivered.

The remarkable economic expansion is a direct result of the Trump tax cuts, widespread deregulation and renegotiation of global trade relationships. But the largely untold part of the economic success story is the Trump administration’s unleashing of the energy sector.

For eight long years, President Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency as a sledgehammer to enforce the leftist energy wish list: Bankrupt the coal industry, subsidize green energy boondoggles such as Solyndra despite massive taxpayer losses, impose cap and trade, halt offshore drilling and exploration projects and kill off oil pipelines such as the Keystone XL. American consumers, domestic energy producers and tens of thousands of jobs be damned.

Once in office, Mr. Trump set about reversing these destructive energy policies with the stated goal of achieving true energy independence.

Mr. Trump understood that energy policy may not be as sexy as tax relief or a new NAFTA agreement, but it is a bipartisan issue vital to the nation’s economic future. Unfortunately, in today’s highly-politicized climate, economic growth can often be caught in the crossfire of ideological activism.

In one of the more egregious recent examples, the Keystone XL pipeline was blocked by a San Francisco judge on Nov. 8, frustrating the president’s agenda. “It was a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump told reporters, adding, “Forty-eight thousand jobs. I approved it. It’s ready to start.”

This latest judicial ruling presents significant challenges to Mr. Trump’s energy policy and stalls the prospect of further harvesting abundant U.S. natural resources, hampering national security in the process. Other projects, such as the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which was placed on Mr. Trump’s National Infrastructure Priorities List, may yet face similar challenges.

Most of the opportunities to explore our energy resources have been in the West and Midwest, but the East Coast can now share in the benefits. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would run through North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, would massively reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, save $377 million per year on energy costs, produce $28 million per year in local tax revenue and create over 17,000 jobs in the construction industry alone. In purely economic terms, the ACP would create tremendous economic growth benefiting all Americans.

The Atlantic Pipeline would also relieve strain on public utilities in Virginia and North Carolina that are struggling to keep homes warm and businesses lit. And importantly, the ACP would support veterans by providing job opportunities through the Helmets to Hardhats program for retired and transitioning active-duty service members, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve.

Some remain skeptical of the environmental impact of projects harnessing natural resources. While critics maintain that oil pipelines such as the Keystone XL and ACP would place drinking water and animal habitats at risk, the truth is that pipelines continue to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly method of transporting fossil fuels.

In a study by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research examining industry statistics from 2005 to 2009, the shipment of oil by road and railway was proven to be significantly more dangerous than shipment by pipeline. While the transport of oil by road and railway had incident rates of 19.95 and 2.08 incidents per billion ton-miles respectively, that of transport by pipeline was just 0.58.

In an economy and broader society that rely on fossil fuels to function, opposition to projects like the Keystone XL and ACP on the basis of environmental activism is little more than fear-mongering alarmism. American consumers deserve the right to have natural resources developed in a safe way that benefits the economy and national security.

Under Mr. Trump, our dependence on foreign sources of energy is declining, but we remain reliant on foreign energy suppliers for 45 percent of our oil demand. Building critical oil infrastructure would continue to alleviate foreign energy dependence and reduce prices for consumers everywhere. According to one analyst at Cameron Hanover, for every penny gasoline prices increase, it costs consumers an additional $4 million per day and $1.4 billion per year.

For the good of the consumer and the nation as a whole, Congress should mount a bipartisan effort to implement an energy agenda that will further bolster U.S. energy security, stimulate the economy and safely harness natural resources. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline should be the latest component of a pro-American energy policy that will create jobs and lower costs for everybody. It’s time to get it done.

• Monica Crowley is a columnist for the Washington Times.


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