I always like following oil and gas debates, as they remind me of a current version of the “timber wars.” There are corporations (which are bad, needless to say) and their workers (especially working-class rural folks) who provide products that we all use. But oil and gas and forest products are both scape-industries, in the sense that the folks running the (good corporate) brewpub or the marijuana shop running off natural gas, and built with wood, are not contaminated by the sin of producing these materials. There must be a ritual absolution process somewhere along the supply chain.
Tisha Schuller gave an excellent talk on a recent webinar, and made some points that I thought could equally apply to folks from the forest products industry, federal lands ranchers, and perhaps even OHV groups. Here’s a link to her post today and the most salient points to us excerpted below. I think her ideas are worth trying for any group that is traditionally less-favored-group during D Administrations.
How Gamechangers Are Responding
The disruptors have demonstrated that the focus on climate is directional. Remember, this isn’t political. Your investors are in the first car on the climate train. There is not a political pendulum that will swing back when it comes to the role of oil and gas in the energy future. The only choice remaining: We must lead.
Here’s what your responses sound like — if you’re a gamechanger:
· Share the aspiration. “We share the Biden administration’s sense of urgency on addressing climate change and accelerating decarbonization.”
· Take the first step. “We plan to work closely with the Biden administration on advancing clean energy innovation and execution. Addressing climate change happens better, faster, and cheaper with the oil and gas industry at the table. We bring millions of scientists and engineers, billions of dollars, world-class R&D, and millions of miles of existing infrastructure to the challenge at hand.”
· Show promise. “The first thing we want to collaborate with the administration on is ensuring that oil and gas development on federal lands is the most environmentally sustainable in the world, with the smallest footprint and the fastest path to decarbonization. This will allow the U.S. to be a global climate leader while managing the realities of economies, fuel and energy demand, available alternatives, and geopolitics.”
· Embrace the leadership vacuum. “Our industry is unique in that it can bring the resources, existing infrastructure, talent, R&D capabilities, and 150 years of entrepreneurial excellence to partner with the Biden administration to achieve our shared vision for a decarbonizing energy future.”
It’s long past time to throw out the old-school industry political playbook. Let’s do what we are good at and lead into the energy future.
I bolded the Show Promise because you could substitute wood production (including from fuels reduction projects) “on federal lands is the most environmentally sustainable in the world, with the smallest footprint and the fastest path to decarbonization.” This reminds me a bit of the certification on federal lands debate, but we can think beyond FSC.
If you read the Daines-Feinstein bill, you can recognize that pieces of industry ideas are spliced in with others’ ideas. Maybe a more direct and meaningful route to good policy is to sit down and have a discussion with the new Administration. Ideally people can have thoughtful interactions and discuss choices without becoming a random mess of quid pro quo. What do you think?