Energy infrastructure is about everything.
The overhead power network is connected to the lights, the A / C operation and Wi-Fi. Underground pipelines burn stoves and ovens and allow fuel to flow freely from the pumps. There is a lot of power in Wyoming – and it is predictable. Most people do not need to think about it.
Twenty years ago, After the events of September 11, 2001, the American sense of security was shattered, and that stable supply did not seem to be given. Suddenly, it seems more vulnerable.
“When you’re talking about oil and gas or electricity, think about everything you’re used to doing every day without electricity,” said Lynn Budd, director of the Wyoming Office. Security.
In the months following 9/11, the immediate concern was physical abuse. Energy infrastructure is visible. It is almost everywhere. And it often focuses on narrow passages to simplify complex licensing processes, including transmission lines, pipelines and power lines.
“We didn’t even know our dams were safe,” said Steve Degenfeldder, Kirkwood Oil and Gas Land Manager. “If we put all our pipes in one corridor and we are exposed to terrorism, will that put all our eggs in one basket?”
These physical hazards have never been seen. But a sense of mutual mistrust arose in the national campaign for energy liberation, which shaped the modern energy market – and today’s unique energy security landscape.
In the years following 9/11, President George W. Bush sought to regain control of the domestic energy market. The country already had a stable supply of coal – In 2001, it imported less than 2% of the nation’s total coal and doubled its exports. Bush was more concerned about oil.
In 2007, Bush enacted the Energy Freedom and Security Act, which formalized the United States’ efforts to limit its dependence on oil importers.
“Power is a tool,” said Mark Dolger, president of BHG Geologists. “It’s an economic tool.”
After 9/11, the United States was no longer comfortable with such an offer to your political opponents. But he did not have the tools to immediately reject all foreign oil. In 2001, the country became the world’s second-largest oil producer, second only to Saudi Arabia. A.D. In 2004, it dropped to third behind Russia.
Although domestic oil production is more restrictive than the previous policy, it has grown steadily under President Barack Obama. In the years that followed, Obama lent money to industry.
However, In 2014, it was a hydraulic fracture that brought the United States to the point where it was at the oil level.
“In fact, energy production is the most important factor,” said Shannon Anderson, a lawyer for the Powers River Basin Council. “That’s why we have created more domestic energy security with oil and gas. It was technology and economics. ”
A.D. In 2019, the United States was still a net importer of petroleum, producing 19.27 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Information Administration. Exports 8.47 million barrels a day. Most of the 9.14 million barrels a day worldwide are from OPEC countries, including Canada and Saudi Arabia.
A.D. In the midst of declining demand in 2020, the United States became the world’s largest oil exporter since the middle of the 20th century. It imports 7.86 million barrels per day, exports 8.51 million and consumes an average of 18.19 million barrels per day.
The damaged boom also changed the domestic natural gas market. After 2005, production increased. U.S. Natural Gas Importers They began to decline in 2007, and the country has been a net exporter since 2016. A.D. By 2020, 33.43 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – more than 3 trillion cubic feet.
“Energy freedom, especially in oil and natural gas, has really come a long way,” Dolger said. Significant steps have been taken in those areas.
Two decades after 9/11, the United States regained control of the oil and gas markets, despite changes in legislation by Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden. But fossil fuels are now not the only major players in the energy sector.
Technological advances and the growing demand for low-carbon energy are driving rapid change. Renewables, battery storage and nuclear power are being driven by coal, oil and natural gas. But the generational resources needed to alleviate the climate crisis also come with new challenges.
“We all know where we are today in energy security,” Dolger said. It is clearly violated because we rely on countries that are not in our best interests.
The United States has used nuclear power plants in China and Russia, which provide 20% of the country’s total electricity, as well as the rare earth needed to produce wind turbines, solar panels, and commercial batteries.
Although there are some uranium and rare earth deposits in the United States, both resources can be relatively cheap to import and remain very expensive for mining and domestic processing.
A.D. Uranium enrichment at the 1980s was all cut off, and its nuclear enrichment capacity – an essential part of the refining process – was gone. Even the country’s uranium ore must be enriched beyond its borders.
“We have uranium resources,” said Dolger. “We have a rare treasure. I think we are lacking, to some extent, public acceptance and political will to develop our domestic resources. ”
To some extent, the obstacles to nuclear growth are reversed. There is a market for nuclear energy, but the country’s uranium is not accessible. Coal is abundant, but demand is declining.
Jason Begger, executive director of the Wyoming Institute of Carbon Research, says the declining market for coal poses a serious threat to US energy security. Climate storms, wildfires, heat waves, and snowstorms disrupt energy infrastructure across the country, and cities and states face grid limitations.
“Where do you go when you see some of these worst weather events? They are the best option, so they go straight to coal. It really is the only option. ”
Wind and sun are by nature dynamic energy sources. While advances in battery technology make renewables more reliable, today’s batteries still face storage restrictions. Nuclear factories often operate at full capacity and are unable to meet high demand. And natural gas-powered natural gas pipelines for transporting gas to power plants could be the victims of major power outages.
This means that coal, which is closely linked to climate change, is the most reliable source of energy during climate change.
“Your fuel supply will be maintained at the coal plant,” Beger said. “Coal weaknesses are not at work. I would say they are more local and political. ”
In Wyoming, at least, alternative technologies still have time to mature. Rocky Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, is expected to retire from Wyoming coal in 2039.
For utilities, reliability is always a priority. Now, after the 9/11 attacks on physical infrastructure, a new threat has emerged – cyber attacks.
“We take it very seriously,” said Tiffany Erickson, Rocky Mountain Power Media Relations Manager. The security of our assets and the security of customer information is part of the Company’s day-to-day responsibilities.
In May, a Bezaware cyber attack shut down a colony pipeline supplying southeast gasoline until the company paid hackers about $ 5 million in bitcoin. Wyoming utilities, operators and other energy stakeholders are taking steps to protect themselves, from supporting the company’s information to training employees to falling prey to scams.
“The biggest threat to Wyoming State right now is cyber security,” said Wyoming. “Because it is universal. There are no boundaries. You are no different in Wyoming, or California or Europe.