For years, environmental activists have been calling for fossil fuel bans and underlining anti-energy rhetoric. These activists paint the unrealistic picture that divesting from energy products like oil and gas would be a simple process that could seemingly be implemented overnight. Businessman T. Boone Pickens recently offered thoughtful concerns regarding calls for divestment, pointing out an unfortunate reality for anti-energy activists: oil and gas is engrained in modern society, a fixture in American industry, and has improved the lives of millions. As Pickens writes:
These fuels are behind a multitude of products including carpet, clothes, shoes, shampoo, tires, perfume, insecticides, candles, pens – even iPhones. And of course, it is also the reason developing countries have had heat and transportation. Even as we look to make a transition in our energy consumption, we must recognize the role oil has played in our development.
Activist and student groups across the country have long advocated for divestment, despite the absence of a viable alternative. After calls from their student body to divest from fossil fuels, Stanford University voted against the measure, summarizing the critical role of oil and gas in our society:
Because achieving these goals will take time, and given how integral oil and gas are to the global economy, the trustees do not believe that a credible case can be made for divesting from the fossil fuel industry until there are competitive and readily available alternatives.
Even Pickens, who identifies himself as a “staunch environmentalist,” affirms the need for strong oil and gas markets in order to continue fueling America’s growing energy needs. GAIN echoes these statements. Recognizing the importance of oil and gas is not an anti-environment position, as promoting reliable, affordable energy and environmental consciousness are not mutually exclusive. By expanding and modernizing our country’s critical energy infrastructure, we can continue to produce affordable American products, promote economic growth, and safely and efficiently transport energy to consumer markets.