Divestment From Oil and Gas Would Pave "the Road To Hell For America”

Wed, September 28, 2022

Last week, JP Morgan’s chief executive officer, Jamie Dimon, stated that divesting from oil and gas would pave the “road to hell for America.”  Dimon shared this sentiment during a House Oversight Committee hearing where banking executives were pressed on whether they would ever commit to stop funding new fossil fuel projects.

This sentiment, shared by Dimon and echoed by many others, opened up a critical conversation around energy infrastructure, energy security, and our energy future.

Recently, American oil and gas exports have hit historical highs. The United States became the world’s largest LNG exporter in the first half of 2022. In 2021, the United States exported about 8.63 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum – surpassing U.S. petroleum imports – and making the United States a net annual petroleum exporter for the second year in a row.

And exports are projected to continue to grow to meet rising demand. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Short Term Energy Outlook earlier this month, U.S. LNG exports are set to rise and reach 11.01 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2022 and 12.34 Bcf/d in 2023.

If the United States is to continue to stand as a global energy leader, we will need investment in more energy infrastructure – like LNG export terminals and pipelines – to meet the rising global energy demand.

In the immediate future, American oil and natural gas will insulate the global market from the worst of Russia’s aggressions. The EIA forecasts oil consumption at the end of 2022, and in early 2023, will jump significantly, as electricity providers, particularly in Europe, may switch to oil-based generating fuels to meet their winter fueling needs.

And in the long term, oil and natural gas are both set to remain critical components of our future energy mix, even in a net zero future. In the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) proposed scenario to reach net-zero by 2050, fossil fuels remain a critical part of the energy mix, making up about one-fifth of the global energy supply.

As Sasha Mackler, Executive Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center Energy Program, put it: “…We see the world’s largest logistics companies and well-capitalized energy companies needing to be at the table and really driving us [to net zero by 2050] in an accelerated way.”

In short: to discourage investment in oil and gas – in our country’s energy infrastructure – is to undermine our own energy future.

Gabriel B. Collins and Michelle Michot Foss, both fellows at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, aptly noted one of the largest flaws in divestment in Foreign Policy magazine: “Actions that serve tomorrow’s aspirations but neglect today’s reality will leave billions of people globally increasingly caught in a pincer movement.”

Lawmakers should not be politicizing our energy needs, but rather focusing on collaborating with energy companies, think tanks, and other stakeholders to create a stable regulatory environment for energy investment.  At this critical moment for energy security, we should be enabling rational investors and institutions to invest in our energy future.