Both US and Canadian politicians understand communities rely on natural resources to create jobs and income
By Lily Emamian, EnergyInDepth
Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) blamed the “Keep It In The Ground” (KIITG) movement for Democrats’ devastating losses in the November election.
When asked by CNBC “Squawk Box” co-host Joe Kernan if the “somewhat radical” energy and climate policy advocated by the KIITG movement has served her party well, Heitkamp responded,
“I think when you look at it, it’s so critically important that we live in the real world and not in the world of ideology. I can tell you that… there’s a large number of people that are ‘Leave It In The Ground’ that think we should shut down all fossil fuels. I think people in the fossil fuel industry feel that, whether they’re coal miners, or they’re oil workers, and I think that kind of alignment with ‘Leave It In The Ground’ and not looking at energy policy, has had an effect (on the way voters cast their ballots this year).”
There is ample evidence to back up Heitkamp’s assessment, particularly in key swing states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Rust belt voters overwhelming supported candidates and campaigns who ran on issues that support domestically produced oil and natural gas in November, rejecting the “Keep-It-In-The-Ground” agenda that poses a serious threat to working families.
Heitkamp is also just one of many progressive leaders who feel the KIITG agenda runs counter to good energy policy and sensible politics. KIITG activists are even taking heat for their unrealistic stance against fossil fuels from the most prominent progressive north of the border.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recently approved the expansion of an oil-sands corridor that will carry more crude oil across the country, has said of the movement’s criticism of his decision,
“There isn’t a country in the world that would find billions of barrels of oil and just leave it in the ground while there is a market for it.”
“We can’t just flip a switch and say ‘no more fossil fuels, now it’s all renewables.’ That’s not practical, it’s not possible.”
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell also countered “Keep It In The Ground” protesters’ complaints, saying:
“If you regulate [fracking] well, it can be a valuable source of the economy and good for the environment.” He continued, “if we can’t frack, we are not going to have natural gas as a source for electricity. So what’s the alternative?”
Rendell and Loebsack’s comments echo those of Obama Science Advisor John Holdren who recently said, “The notion that we’re going to keep it all in the ground is unrealistic.”
They are also right in line with former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, who called KIITG activists “completely impractical.”
Political leaders from both sides of the border — and both sides of the political aisle — understand both the U.S. and Canada rely on their natural resources to create jobs and income.
That is why adopting innovative ways to use fossil fuels while simultaneously cutting GHG emissions is good politics and necessary for both North American economies.
Fortunately, considering increased use of natural gas made possible by fracking has driven down greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously boosting the economy, those two objectives are no longer mutually exclusive.