Kite and Key Media provides a primer on America’s Energy supply in the above video and transcript below in italics with my bolds.
Pipe Dreams: How America Gets Energy.
The Backbone of America’s Energy Infrastructure
In the winter of 2022, the world watched in horror as Russian forces invaded Ukraine. The question on everyone’s mind: “How did they think they could get away with this?”
One very good answer to that question: Because over 40% of the natural gas Europe relies on to keep itself warm during the winter … comes from Russia. And standing up to the people who are keeping you from freezing … is a tall order.
Now, if you’re an American, this scenario might seem unthinkable. After all, the U.S. produces more natural gas than any other nation in the world. We’d never have to rely on a hostile nation to keep ourselves warm.
Or at least that’s what you’d think…
…unless you were there the day that Russian gas pulled into Boston harbor.
Here’s a simple test to determine whether you live in a prosperous society: Do you ever worry about where you’re going to get the necessities of life?
Do you ever pull up to the gas station and worry that the pumps might be empty? Do you ever go to switch on the lights and worry that nothing will happen?
Most of the time, the answer is ‘no’ … which is why it’s so terrifying when the answer is ‘yes.’
Blackouts in Texas in early 2021. Over 10,000 gas stations running dry after a cyberattack only a few months later. What do those incidents have in common?
They demonstrate what happens when pipelines aren’t working.
If America’s energy supplies are the lifeblood of our economy, then we can think of pipelines as something like the nation’s circulatory system.
In the U.S., pipelines are used to bring us about 90% of our petroleum and virtually all of our natural gas — which is pretty significant, given that those two power sources alone make up about 70% of the country’s entire energy use.
That’s why America has over 2.6 million miles worth of pipelines. Because without them … the whole country gets very Amish very fast.
But, as you may have noticed … not everyone is thrilled about this. In recent years, legal challenges have led to the cancellation of several major pipelines and delays for many others. From 2009 to 2018, the time it takes to get pipelines approved increased by more than 50%.
So, what’s happening here? The objections to pipelines rest primarily on two critiques. The first is that they’ll contribute to carbon emissions. The second is that pipeline accidents could lead to oil spills.
And both of those claims … really require context to understand.
When it comes to carbon emissions, it’s important to know that the pipelines themselves aren’t really the issue. They’re just a mode of transportation.
The carbon emissions come from the petroleum and natural gas that flow through the pipelines. But here’s the catch: Getting rid of the pipelines … doesn’t mean getting rid of the emissions.
Cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, for instance, may have felt like a win for the environment — but it’s not like that oil is gonna stay in the ground as a result. In fact, much of it is likely to be shipped to China — which isn’t exactly a low-emissions trip.
And we can probably expect to see more of that. Current government projections are that, even with a steep increase in the use of renewable fuels, we’ll still be getting about 2/3 of our energy from natural gas and petroleum … 30 years from now.
Refusing to build pipelines won’t change that reality …
but it will make the system we actually have much harder to operate.
Which gets to those concerns about safety. Do accidents occur with pipelines? Yes. It happens. However, accidents occur with all forms of energy transportation. So, the real question is what’s safest among the available options.
And on that front … pipelines do pretty well. Because if you’re not going to move fuel through the ground, you only have three other options: put it on trains, put it on trucks, or put it on boats.
Now, none of those methods is especially dangerous, but pipelines spill a lower percentage of the oil they transport than any method except boats. And boats have … limited utility on this front. Because they still need fuel in Nebraska … and America’s 26 other land-locked states.
So, what does a world without pipelines look like?
We already sorta know the answer.
The reason that Boston was getting gas from Russia, for instance, was because the state of Massachusetts refused to allow a pipeline to bring it from Pennsylvania. That’s the same reason, by the way, that, in January of 2022, the citizens of Boston … were paying 400% more for natural gas than those Pennsylvanians only 200 miles away — in the middle of a New England winter.
Here’s the reality: None of us are willing to live in a world where the lights don’t reliably come on or gas doesn’t reliably come out of the pump. We can aspire to a future powered by cleaner energy sources, but until that day comes … we’re going to be relying on fuel sources like petroleum and natural gas.
Which means we either rely on pipelines…
…or rely on places like Moscow…
…or get very comfortable with horses.