U.S. Healthcare system relies on oil and gas industry to function

The Washington Times published an op-ed from GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens, former senior advisor to U.S Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, in which he discusses the critical role the oil and gas industry plays in supporting our nation’s healthcare system. Stevens highlights how many hospitals have been reaching capacity due to the high number of COVID-19 cases. As a result of this strain on our healthcare system, state leaders must carefully consider the impact of any proposed policies that would stand in the way of oil and gas projects and reliable energy that are critical to supporting the U.S. healthcare sector.

For example, Stevens sheds light on how natural gas bans can harm our healthcare systems, pointing to California:

“Take California, for example. The state is in the process of transitioning away from fossil fuels with self-imposed regulations and natural gas bans. On Aug. 14 and 15, California literally ran out of energy. Half-a-million homes and businesses lost power during the state’s first rolling black outs in nearly 20 years. During an extreme heat wave, state agencies reportedly failed to plan for the spike in energy demand. And the lights went out.

California’s approach isn’t good enough for America’s health care system, especially during a pandemic. Our hospitals need the reliability fossil fuels offer. Natural gas is one of the safest, most reliable and most affordable energy sources out there. Unlike wind and solar, gas is not weather-dependent and can easily be stored during a period of low energy demand and withdrawn during high demand. Americans rely on an extraordinary gas pipeline network that zigzags 3 million miles across our country to safely deliver reliable energy to our homes, businesses and hospitals — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

According to the EIA, natural gas is a relatively clean-burning fossil fuel and releases fewer emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants than coal. In addition, natural gas is a reliable source of energy as it is already abundantly produced right here in the U.S. – meaning we do not need to rely on unstable foreign regimes for our energy.

The oil and gas industry goes beyond just powering hospitals. Stevens remarks that hospitals rely on petroleum-based products such as critical PPE equipment that includes hand sanitizer, latex gloves, medicines, and other important equipment used daily. We cannot take the production of these necessities for granted.

In closing, Stevens urges policymakers across the nation to consider the needs of the healthcare industry when making important decisions about oil and gas projects:

“Our leaders must recognize the critical role of oil and gas in not only powering our health facilities, but also in fueling the American economy out of this pandemic. The next presidential administration should embrace an all-of-the-above energy strategy, or California’s dark reality could become the rest of the country’s.”

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