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Thune: Energy Security is National Security

“An all-of-the-above energy policy is the way to guarantee an affordable and reliable energy supply.”

March 2, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today talked about the importance of an all-of-the-above energy policy to reduce the United States’ reliance on foreign sources of energy. Thune noted that any energy policy that doesn’t embrace conventional and renewable sources is insufficient and would place both our energy security and affordability in jeopardy.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):


“Mr. President, ask any Republican what kind of energy policy he or she supports, and you’re likely to hear the phrase “an all-of-the-above energy policy.” 


“And today I wanted to take a minute to talk about, first, what we mean by an all-of-the-above energy policy, and, second, why we support this kind of policy.


“So, Mr. President, what is an all-of-the-above energy policy?


“Well, as the name suggests, an all-of-the-above energy policy is an energy policy that embraces the full spectrum of available energy sources, both renewable AND conventional.


“It’s important not to ignore that conventional part, as many of my colleagues across the aisle would like to do. 


“It’s not enough to embrace renewable energy – even multiple types of renewables.


“For reasons I’m going to discuss, any energy policy that doesn’t embrace conventional as well as renewable sources of energy is insufficient – and places both our energy security and energy affordability in jeopardy.


“But back to my explanation.


“As I said, an all-of-the-above energy policy is an energy policy that embraces the full spectrum of available energy sources.  


“It embraces wind, solar, hydropower, biofuels, biomass, geothermal, nuclear, oil and natural gas, and more.


“That’s the definition, Mr. President.


“Now, why is an all-of-the-above energy policy important?


“Why not, for example, eliminate fossil fuels from the mix?


“Or why not choose one or two renewable fuels and put all our energies into advancing those one or two technologies to hasten the arrival of a clean-energy future?


“Well, there are a number of reasons why those options – and any option that doesn’t embrace the full range of available energy technologies – are a bad idea.


“First of all, the fact of the matter is that we are simply not yet at the point where we can rely solely on clean-energy technologies.


“We still need conventional energy, and we are going to continue to need conventional energy sources – in particular natural gas – for the foreseeable future.


“My state of South Dakota actually derives a huge portion of our electricity generation from renewables – notably wind and hydroelectric – totaling about 82 percent of utility-scale production.


“But conventional fuels nevertheless play an essential role in electricity generation in South Dakota.


“Wind, like solar and other renewables, is by its nature intermittent – even in places like South Dakota where wind is a regular feature.


“And because technology has not yet advanced to the point where we can store up sufficient renewable energy to power an electric grid, even places like my state that rely heavily on renewables for electricity generation depend on conventional energy sources like coal and natural gas to keep the power on consistently.


“California is another state with significant production from renewables – like hydropower and solar.


“But the availability of those sources is affected by variables like cloud cover and drought. 


“And while California generally gets a lot of sunshine, again, the technology to effectively store energy from those renewables at the scale necessary to power California’s grid is simply not here yet.


“And it’s probably fair to say that one reason California’s electricity grid is known for being unreliable is because the state is overly reliant on renewables without sufficient backup from conventional energy sources to meet demand.


“Now I think we’re unquestionably going to get to the point where we can store renewable energy more efficiently and on a large scale.


“But we’re not there yet.


“And it’s important to recognize that fact – and to recognize that the availability of consistent, reliable energy in this country is still dependent on a consistent, reliable supply of conventional energy sources.


“And, Mr. President, an all-of-the-above energy policy isn’t just a reliability imperative.


“It’s also a national security imperative.


“Having a secure and stable energy supply is critical to our nation’s security.


“Our military bases and hospitals, for example, can’t afford energy blackouts.


“And, again, having a secure and stable supply requires embracing the full spectrum of available energy resources, including the conventional energy sources that ensure the reliability of our nation’s electricity supply.


“Furthermore, embracing the full spectrum of available resources includes developing domestic resources so that we are not overly reliant on supplies from other countries.


“The energy challenges and soaring costs countries like Germany have faced over the past year owing to their heavy reliance on Russian energy are a timely reminder of the importance of developing domestic energy supplies.


“Mr. President, aside from energy security and reliability, an all-of-the-above energy policy is essential because we don’t yet know exactly what a clean-energy future will look like.


“There are still a lot of challenges to work out with renewables and clean-energy technologies.


“As I said, we have not yet developed the technology to store renewable energy on a large scale or without significant efficiency loss.


“And there are a number of other challenges with clean-energy technologies.


“Electric car batteries, for example, are heavily reliant on critical minerals.


“And we currently rely heavily on other countries – not all of them politically or environmentally friendly – for our critical mineral supply.


“And environmentalists are of course loathe to tap our own natural resources.


“The same constraints affect batteries necessary to expand commercial and residential energy storage.


“And while wind and solar energy are producing record amounts of electricity, each have their own end-of-life challenges for recycling and disposal as they are replaced.


“Nuclear power provides a valuable source of clean energy, but construction costs are staggering, and we still haven’t fully arrived at a solution for storing nuclear waste.


“And the list goes on.


“This isn’t to say that American ingenuity won’t solve some of these challenges, or that conventional energy has none of its own.


“But that is exactly why we need to keep exploring all these technologies and the opportunities and challenges they present.


“And the fact of the matter is that our country’s energy future will continue to be multi-faceted – not reliant exclusively or predominantly on one or two energy technologies.


“For one thing, different areas of the country will have different availability when it comes to renewables, like the abundance of wind on the Great Plains.


“And even if we significantly improve the storage and transmission situation, it’s likely that it will always be most efficient for different areas of the country to rely most heavily on the energy resources closest to home. 


“So, as I said, it’s important that we move forward with developing the full range of energy resources, and not attempt to put all our eggs in one basket – or have the government pick winners and losers.


“Excessive government direction runs the risk of diminishing or cutting off innovation in the technologies that could be the future of clean energy.


“We should be encouraging exploration of all clean-energy avenues and then see what the market ultimately gravitates toward – which is likely to be the technologies that are simultaneously practical, affordable, and effective.


“The clean-energy evolution away from coal toward cleaner-burning natural gas – which has been a major driver of emissions reduction – was driven not by top-down direction from government ideologues in Washington, but by private industry, which saw the next wave of energy production and harnessed it.


“Finally, Mr. President, we need an all-of-the-above energy policy to keep energy prices affordable for American families.


“Discouraging conventional energy exploration and production – or forcing a move to renewable sources before we have the technology available to ensure renewables can deliver a reliable and affordable supply – is a good way to make Americans’ energy bills continue to soar.


“Mr. President, an all-of-the-above energy policy is the way to guarantee an affordable and reliable energy supply.


“And members of both parties should be embracing an all-of-the-above approach to American energy.


“Unfortunately, however, that’s not the case.


“Instead, Democrats are pursuing increasingly extreme Green New Deal policies designed to discourage investment in, exploration of, and production of conventional energy – without regard to whether or not we are anywhere near to having the resources and technology to move beyond conventional energy.


“The so-called Inflation Reduction Act Democrats passed last August contained a series of tax hikes on conventional energy production that are driving up Americans’ energy bills.


“It also contained a lot of funding for Green New Deal fantasies that are likely to achieve nothing more than wasting taxpayer dollars. 


“Mr. President, I am a big – and long-time – supporter of clean energy.


“And I am confident that we will get to a day when we will be able to rely almost exclusively on clean-energy technologies, especially when you factor in carbon capture paired with clean natural gas.


“But we’re not there yet.


“And until that day comes, we need to embrace an all-of-the-above energy policy.


“For energy security.


“For energy reliability.


“And to keep Americans’ energy bills affordable.


“I hope more of my colleagues across the aisle will come to realize this before they seriously impair the stability and security of our nation’s energy supply.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”