We watched last week in horror as the East Coast was held hostage by a ransomware attack that shut down the critical Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil pipeline system in the United States. It is 5,500 miles long and can move 3 million barrels of refined fuel products a day between Texas and New York.
When it was turned off, half of the country stood still.
There are important lessons to learn from this situation. First, the messages coming out of the Biden Administration are shifting and confusing. We applaud the president’s efforts to mobilize his team to get the pipeline operating again. He put the might of the federal government in action, demonstrating the importance of the pipeline to the country.
However, it feels like a 180-degree shift from his earlier presidential actions when he revoked the Keystone XL Pipeline permits. While not as large as the Colonial Pipeline, Keystone could allow similar quality products to quickly move from Canada to Texas. I believe there’s a double standard here: apparently what is good for the East isn’t necessarily good for the West.
Second, the United States needs a diversified domestic supply chain. Utah has always been committed to planning for the future. Watching the disruptions caused by the Colonial ransomware attack back east demonstrates why our ongoing commitment to an all-of-the-above energy policy remains Utah’s best path forward. When we become too dependent on one energy source, we put ourselves in the position to be held hostage by that source. Utah’s diversified energy sector provides freedom and flexibility.
Utah is blessed with multiple energy source corridors. In the Uintah Basin, oil and gas wells produce a waxy crude that’s valued worldwide. Some of the cleanest and hottest burning coal in the world is mined throughout eastern and central Utah. Additionally, Beaver County is a growing renewable energy corridor that includes wind, solar, biogas and geothermal. We have strong partnerships with our energy producers, and our ingenuity is redefining storage for renewable energy making it more durable. Utah is a model for every state.
The Rural Matters section of the One Utah Roadmap, the 500-day plan of the Cox administration, demonstrates Utah-centric leadership that will maintain and strengthen the state as an energy leader in an ever-changing world.
One Roadmap project, the Uinta Railway, has been identified by the Cox administration as a game-changer. The railway will help bring basin waxy crude in an efficient way to the Gulf Coast, which takes polluting trucks off the road and ensures a secure supply chain. The pioneering spirit has never left Utah and we are hopeful that the railway will be added to our diverse portfolio.
I’ve spent this month meeting with county commissioners and energy producers in eastern Utah. As I drove from county to county, listening to their successes and struggles, there was one consistent message: Utahns know how to get things done. Each region has their own challenges and opportunities, but top-down policies — whether from D.C. or Salt Lake — aren’t going to solve any problems. Listening to people on the ground will help us find the solutions we need.
Cox did just that in developing the One Utah Roadmap. He met with stakeholders across the state and spoke with them about their challenges and solutions.
We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why our commitment to all-of-the-above and a diversified energy portfolio provides us with the formula for ongoing success.
Thom Carter is the energy advisor to Gov. Spencer J. Cox and the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development.