Today marks the first official day of the Atlantic hurricane season, which means new risks to the fragile energy infrastructure that powers the entire U.S. economy.
Last year, President Joe Biden warned the nation was facing a “code red” on climate change after a series of hurricanes to justify handicapping utilities with vulnerabilities that present Americans with potentially routine blackouts this summer. Never mind that the number of hurricanes to make landfall has actually declined by one-third since 1945. The ones that do land are made far less deadly thanks to our remarkable capacity to adapt and develop, which has been powered by fossil fuels.
In 1900, the Great Galveston hurricane killed up to 12,000 people in Texas, 100 years before Hurricane Katrina would claim fewer than 2,000 in and around Louisiana in 2005. No storm has eclipsed a death toll of 500 since Florida’s Okeechobee Hurricane in 1928 killed more than 4,000 people, Katrina serving as the only exception primarily as a consequence of the region’s ill-preparedness for any major weather event.
While their risks have been reduced, danger is by no means absent, and the massive storms still jeopardize the power grid. That’s what Katrina did in 2005 when the cyclone knocked out 95 percent of the region’s crude output and 88 percent of its natural gas production. The havoc led President George W. Bush to tap the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves for emergencies, releasing 30 million barrels of oil onto the market.
Last week, Biden again warned Americans to brace for another hurricane season, lying again about their intensity.
“We know hurricanes are coming our way,” the president said. “They grow more extreme every season.”
With 360 million barrels left after Biden’s “unprecedented” reserves release began May 15 amid record gas prices, Americans are not at risk of empty oil reserves ahead of another season. Americans are, however, at a far greater risk of a compromised power grid compounded by weather-related events such as hurricanes.
Daniel Turner, the president of the energy non-profit Power the Future, explained that the Biden administration’s interference at every level of the oil and gas industry has opened up a far larger window of risk and uncertainty to blackouts this summer than in previous years. Biden’s shutdown of production sites and transportation projects such as leases on federal lands and the Keystone XL Pipeline are prime examples of the administration placing the industry on fragile footing with less flexibility to cope with unexpected interruptions.
“If the administration understood the multiple steps in the oil and gas lifespan, they would realize every process has its vulnerabilities,” Turner told The Federalist. Production is the first stage, transfer is the second stage, and refining is the third. “If the first stage is weak, the second stage is weak, and then we have seasonal problems at stage three, then it’s just compounded.”
Biden has made no secret of the administration’s animosity towards domestic energy production of reliable fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Even as gas prices hit daily records for more than two weeks straight, the White House still canceled oil and gas leases across the country from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month.
Residents in California, who’ve already suffered the consequences of an irresponsible energy transition with rolling blackouts, will face major power shortages this summer as more heat waves stretch the electricity grid beyond capacity. Western drought conditions at their worst in 1,200 years will only place added stress on the nation’s energy infrastructure, leading the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to prophesy a season of outages.
Meanwhile, Turner explained, the nation’s growing population needs more energy.
“Add weather-related events to this, and it’s much much worse, there’s no doubt,” Turner said. Refusal to unleash American energy potential as demand rises among homeowners electrifying their homes even more with new gadgets every year, is “a recipe for disaster.”
Americans can’t look to wind and solar to solve their problems, however, given how they’re prone to destruction under intense storms.
“When it comes to weather-related events, wind and solar don’t stand up,” Turner said. Nuclear and coal always survive with “structures unaffected by weather” minus a few power lines that can be put back up.
“I just question when trying to use wind and solar to power,” Turner said, “when we get one good hailstorm and now what do we do? We turn to diesel generators.”