Ethanol refinery with farm fields

If you’re anything like me: an individual who wants environmental sustainability but also wants to pay your energy bills without making your wallet cry, then keep reading.

In today’s world we are experiencing a very “them vs. us” type of culture. Instead of working with groups we disagree with to meet in the middle, we completely dismiss their ideas. Just log on to Facebook for ten minutes, you’ll see what I’m talking about. The narrative regarding traditional energy sources and renewable energy is experiencing a similar type of environment. One side argues that the oil and gas industry is killing the environment and the other side is claiming that renewables are too expensive for families and businesses to afford and stay afloat. However, who says you can’t have both?

Renewable energy doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it’s possible that your energy and utility provider is using solar or wind energy to power your home at this very moment. For example, Michigan’s two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, have committed to producing cleaner energy by depending on 25 percent renewable energy by the year 2030, and increasing energy efficiency by 25 percent in the same timeframe. Long story short, these utility companies will be relying on the production of solar and wind energy to turn your lights on, cool down your home, and even run your blow-dryer in the mornings. What this also means is that if you’re like me and can’t afford to buy rooftop solar panels, you don’t have to. Your utility company is already doing it for you.

Protesting pipelines is another effort that is harming the environment and making energy more expensive for families and small businesses. After DAPL in 2016, hundreds of people started running out to pipeline construction sites to showcase their disapproval, but did they do their research? Transporting liquid petroleum and natural gas via pipeline is 4.5 times more environmentally friendly than transporting the same amount by freight and rail, and more affordable too, meaning your energy bill stays low. Why? Take into consideration the amount of fuel required to run the trucks and trains, the amount of money required to pay drivers and engineers, the man hours necessary to move these products, and the emissions released into the environment by the machines required to do so. Pipelines eliminate all these factors by being located underground. It’s likely there’s a pipeline near you without your knowledge!

The theme behind the infamous DAPL protest was the concern that its implementation would be a danger to the quality of drinking water in the area. That idea is simply false. Pipelines are an extremely safe way to transport energy across the country. A barrel of crude oil or petroleum product shipped by pipeline reaches its destination safely more than 99.999% of the time. After 10 months of camping out, anti-energy protesters left behind 48 million pounds of garbage at the DAPL protest site for the North Dakota Department of Energy Services to clean up. The federally funded clean-up project costed taxpayers $1.1 million. So, next time you’re feeling guilty for not joining in on the latest social-justice issue, don’t. What you’re standing for could ultimately harm the exact issue you’re trying to protect.

At the end of the day, the goal is to provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy for all. It doesn’t have to be “us vs. them,” it can be a joined effort towards a common goal. Many oil and gas companies are working daily to protect our environment, and many are advocating for renewable energy to power their projects. Together let’s work together to lessen the cost burden on families while protecting the world we live in. The time to unite is now.