In Texas to tout green tech, Biden’s energy secretary ends up answering oil and gas questions

Gas prices were clearly on the minds of many reporters at press events in Carrollton and Grand Prairie. The average price of a gallon of gas hit $5 nationwide for the first time ever, according to AAA.

That pinch at the pump is the result of limited supply, Granholm said: Oil companies cut refining capacity during the pandemic, and that capacity never fully resumed. Add sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, which cut Russian oil production by about 850,000 barrels a day.

But it’s not just supply and demand, Granholm said: The industry raked in billions of dollars in profits this year and passed the profits on to shareholders. In the first three months of 2022, major oil companies recorded a double-digit increase in profits compared to the last three months of 2021.

For Shell, these were the best quarterly profits on record.

“If they had only…taken half [of their profits] to invest in production, we would have hundreds of additional shale wells and hundreds of thousands of additional barrels on the market today,” Granholm said.

President Biden is expected to meet with executives from major oil companies next week. In a letter, he told them it was “not acceptable” for oil companies to “aggravate” Americans’ economic pain by pocketing “historically high profit margins.”

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has pulled out all the stops to increase the amount of oil on the market.

It is freed from oil from the National Petroleum Strategic Reserve. And he’s approved so many drilling permits on public land — 34% more in Biden’s first year than in Trump’s, in fact, so much so that now environmental groups are suing to block some of those newly approved wells on public lands.

During his trip to Texas, Granholm addressed the tension between the president’s efforts to extract more oil and gas from the ground and the rapid closing of the window to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert climate catastrophe. .

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its latest report that climate change is “widespread, rapid and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible”, but with massive reductions in carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases over the next 20 years, global temperatures could stabilize.

Granholm said Biden “believes we need to have more energy” and is accelerating investment, development and deployment of clean energy while working to further spur oil and gas development to reduce energy prices for consumers in the short term.

A greener future

Granholm’s trip was intended to draw attention to the administration’s efforts to build a greener economy.

The secretary visited the Carrolton research and development laboratory for heater and air conditioner manufacturer Lennox International.

Engineers at the Richardson-headquartered company have been working on better heat pumps that could replace fossil fuel-dependent furnaces and water heaters in homes. Specifically, Lennox was the first company to cross the line of a joint US-Canadian challenge to make heat pumps that perform well in colder climates.

“Why do we want people to have heat pumps? Well, they’re extremely efficient, and in a time when people are paying high fuel prices, we want to make sure people have access to technology that lowers… their utility bills,” she said. .

Heat pumps can reduce energy bills by 60%, she said, which is good for consumers. And since around 16% of the country’s energy is used to heat and cool buildings, heat pumps could end up being a significant part of the recipe for reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Granholm’s second stop in North Texas took place at a local hall of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Grand Prairie, where she visited the union’s training center for future electricians who will be needed to electrify homes. country and build renewable energy infrastructure to Encourage them.

Even though the Biden administration’s climate bill died amid resistance from 48 Republicans and two Democrats in the Senate, Granholm suggested that Americans are already seeing the impact of climate change. As she spoke, more than 120 million Americans were living under heat advisories and Yellowstone National Park was closed due to historic flooding.

“We are seeing these massive events that are supposed to be 100 to 200 year events that happen every year. Last year as a nation we had to pay $150 billion to clean up after these extreme weather events” , she said.

Do you have any advice? Christopher Connelly is KERA’s One Crisis Away reporter, exploring life on the edge of finance. Email Christopher at [email protected] You can follow Christopher on Twitter @hithisischris.

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