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Why talk of eliminating fossil fuels makes no sense

By |  November 22, 2021
Photo:

Yanik

Winter is nearly upon us, and one of the many national conversations taking place at the moment is around U.S. energy policy.

The average price of gasoline, as we all know, is at a high not seen in years. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price of gas is up 46 percent since hitting a five-year low in April 2020.

The narrative for diesel is a very similar one, as the average retail price of No. 2 diesel is at highs not seen since 2014. As of Nov. 15, diesel was up 34 percent versus the same time last year, contributing to a multitude of stresses already gnarled in today’s supply chain.

Also, with temperatures plummeting across the U.S., the price of heating a home became part of the national conversation around energy. Natural gas, propane and heating oil prices are all up over last year, compounding the supply pains felt everywhere. 

On top of those price spikes, there was discussion earlier this month about shutting down the Line 5 oil and gas pipeline into Michigan. Enbridge, the Canadian company operating the pipeline, says Line 5 supplies 55 percent of Michigan’s statewide propane needs. And yet, there was discussion on the eve of winter about shutting it down.

Why this all matters

While the immediate developments around diesel don’t bode well for our industry, there’s more to the energy picture for aggregate producers than what currently meets the eye.

I bring up these various examples because they correspond with the dramatic policy idea of shifting away from fossil fuels, which are essential not only to how producers operate, but fundamental to the way the economy around us is set up to function.

How would aggregate operations effectively run if the fossil fuel spicket was turned off tomorrow? Five years from now? Ten years from now? We all know they couldn’t.

There is merit in exploring alternative fuels as a means to progress, but there is a right and a wrong pace to getting there. Innovation is certainly moving along, but we’re nowhere near a day when diesel and other fossil fuels can be fully discarded.

Some policymakers make clear, however, that the end of fossil fuels is their immediate end goal. The industry must be prepared to counter their interests.

“When you decide that it’s in the best interest of the country to say we’re not going to produce more fossil fuels domestically, you impact energy markets and prices,” says Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association. “All of that comes with a cost. We need to be thinking about how that policy and those rules are making life tougher for the businesses in the aggregates industry, for businesses in NSSGA’s M&S (Manufacturers & Services) Division and for everyday Americans.”

Featured photo: P&Q Staff

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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