Lend A Hand And Help Build A Pipeline

David Holt President, Consumer Energy Alliance
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A growing number of Hollywood stars have joined a national movement opposing the construction of pipelines.

Susan Sarandon, for instance, recently rallied outside the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with Shaliene Woodley – who teamed with Rosario Dawson to do the same earlier at Union Square in New York.

Karenna Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, did likewise, in Boston – and was hastily arrested.

The entire cast of the upcoming “Justice League” flick, including Ben Affleck, followed suit with a filmed endorsement supporting those combating the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Even Neil Young’s new song, “Indian Givers,” was inspired by the continuing hostility against the Dakota Access Pipeline, in North Dakota. Its music video includes footage of protests.

Hating pipelines – and energy production – just seems like the trendiest thing to do, doesn’t it?

It’s high school all over again, and if you think pipelines are a must-have, well, you’re just not with the cool kids, so you may as well keep quiet.

Which is precisely what’s happening for the silent majority.

There aren’t many millionaire celebrities or singers out there advocating for how working families need lower energy prices, or how more Americans are having difficulties paying utility bills.

They’re not out there writing checks to help cover the increased costs, either, or helping families out of work.

Instead, they’re backing a loud minority who chose to ignore the significant environmental successes over the past few decades to, instead, support overzealous regulatory mandates spearheaded by the “Keep It in the Ground” movement, which claims that all energy development on public and privates land should be automatically banned, regardless of any safety or regulatory stringency. And they advocate for rejecting it all – even replacing existing infrastructure or a project that could lower costs for those who can least afford it.

Champions of the poor, they are not.

Low-income families living paycheck to paycheck spend a larger percentage of their income on electricity and heating costs than those in other income brackets. In fact, for many of America’s poorest, 20 percent or more of the family’s income now goes toward energy bills, far exceeding the 6 percent experts recommend. Unlike other necessities – like housing, food, and health care – these consumers often cannot shop for cheaper resources, and most federal and state governments do not have sufficient resources allocated to assist. In fact, the federal government, through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), spent more than $3 billion in 2015 helping those struggling to pay their energy bills.

And because the cost of energy is embedded in nearly every good and service Americans use, price spikes in energy often act as a regressive tax for these families, seniors living on fixed incomes, and those with incomes below the poverty level.

That means that the last thing they need is an unproven, unrealistic anti-energy strategy backed by Hollywood millionaires and hedge fund billionaires that opposes every energy project out of hand and threatens to disrupt America’s electrical grid reliability, reduce our energy security, drive up prices, and cut high-wage middle class jobs by forcing utilities to use less reliable and more expensive sources of energy. Wind and solar energy, which we strongly support, currently generates less than 6 percent of electricity and can’t make up the difference alone.

Rather, families and small businesses need a policy that understands how hard it is for many to make ends meet and will safely and responsibly use every resource available to us to help them get there.

And that’s precisely what Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is working with our members to do.

Following reports of how U.S. energy production and infrastructure allowed the average American family to pocket an extra $1,337 in 2015 while lowering carbon emissions from electricity generation to totals not seen in decades, CEA has launched a “Pipelines for America” campaign that’ll help households and small businesses better understand their near- and long-term energy needs and the importance of having an efficient and robust pipeline infrastructure.

Our efforts couldn’t be more different than what you’re seeing from protesters and their Hollywood backers. Rather than back a movement that promotes trespassing and aggressive behavior, we’ll aim to educate families, households, and small businesses about the increasing importance of U.S. energy – to their health and their wallets – and how pipelines not only help the environment but also keep rates stable.

Because helping others never goes out of style, and nothing is cooler than lowering energy costs.