In the News

Oil and Gas Aren't Going Anywhere

April 5, 2024   The Waterways Journal

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The fate of California’s harbor craft emission regulations is not yet certain, as a coalition of California legislators have asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to delay implementing the rule, set to take effect December 31. Maritime interests warn that the right technology for marine diesel particulate filters is not available and would be so expensive as to drive operators out of business. If harbor tug activity in California’s waters is forced to halt, diverting containerships elsewhere, it will have huge impacts to port operations and logistics far greater than the Baltimore bridge disaster.


The Biden administration has been using both carrots and sticks to try to steer society into its vision of an all-electric future. The carrot came in the form of billions of dollars in funding from two massive infrastructure bills to start paying for the future. Now the sticks are arriving in the form of restrictive regulations. On March 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced final national greenhouse gas pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicles, such as freight trucks and buses, for model years 2027 through 2032.

The White House claims the standards will avoid 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and provide “$13 billion in annualized net benefits to society related to public health, the climate and savings for truck owners and operators.”


Truckers beg to differ. They are warning that the push to electric trucks is unworkable, and the standards will drive them out of business. The emissions standards aren’t explicitly an electric mandate, but they are in practice, as there is no other way to reduce emissions to those levels. Truckers say there are nowhere near enough charging stations, that electric batteries underperform in cold weather, and suppliers are still working out the supply chains for the rare minerals those batteries need.

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More concerning than the truckers’ objections is the growing recognition that the electric grid itself is not ready for stepped-up demands on it. On March 14, the New York Times reported that electric power companies are doubling their estimates of power demands—on an already overstrained grid. Factors cited include more data centers, more electric vehicles and an upsurge in manufacturing.


As the push continues for an electric future, even its most die-hard proponents are beginning to accept that whatever happens with renewables, they are never going to make oil and gas “go away.” Indeed, growing energy demand means that oil and gas use will increase, even as renewable energy sources also grow. The all-electric future isn’t ready for prime time—and may never be.


If you operate a supply chain and want to lower your carbon footprint, water transportation is still the cleanest way to go—and will remain so for a long time yet.