The winter temperatures mean that energy is even more important for Virginians. But this winter, a warm home requires paying exorbitantly high energy bills.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) anticipates that U.S. home heating bills will increase by 28% compared to last year. These increases will cause American families to spend $14.1 billion more on home energy for the next six months. Communities in Virginia face an even bleaker winter, as consumer natural gas costs are projected to increase by 32.9% in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Inflation is partly to blame for this financial strain, but the energy supply crisis is our top challenge to remain economically competitive and to build growth. Despite our abundant resources in Virginia and along the East Coast, our energy infrastructure does not have the capacity to meaningfully increase the supply when prices rise.
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The U.S. has the resources to increase natural gas production and overcome this challenge. The Mid-Atlantic region is close to one of the world’s largest natural gas fields, the Marcellus Shale, which spans from West Virginia and Ohio to as far north as New York state.
This production potential is meaningless if families and businesses are unable to access this energy. Greater supply and lower prices require getting gas from wells to consumers as quickly as possible. Currently, a lack of pipeline infrastructure is the primary obstacle to supplying vital natural gas, which is also a key component in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Ultimately, more distribution infrastructure means a more useable supply of energy and lower prices, including greater energy security and lower CO2 emissions.
Disorganized federal and state-level energy policies play a major role in America’s current energy crisis. Tiresome approval processes have led to endless lawsuits hindering the completion of critical energy infrastructure. These processes regularly halt renewable energy projects as well. Failed policies and lack of action will continue to harm American families and businesses with unprecedented energy prices.
Americans recognize what is going on, and they overwhelmingly support natural gas. Recent polling shows that almost 70% of Americans support increasing natural gas production. In Virginia, support is even more widespread. More than 80% of Virginians are concerned about increased energy costs
Policymakers must take real action to correct our current trajectory. Doing so would bring immeasurable economic benefits to Virginia families and any business that depends on a reliable energy supply. Manufacturers and workers nationwide and in Virginia would benefit tremendously as well.
The Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce recently collaborated with the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) to help expand the availability of natural gas. This group of like-minded responsible energy companies, climate advocates, labor unions and American consumers are working together to advocate for U.S. policies that strengthen the economy, lower energy costs and bolster energy security by unlocking America’s natural gas resources. This initiative supports Virginians and Virginia businesses in their desire for affordable energy.
The Virginia Asian Chamber represents a diverse group of Asian-owned businesses. From small restaurants with few employees to some of the largest employers in the state, one thing remains clear: We all need reliable, affordable energy to operate. Our members know that a strong energy supply and a robust infrastructure allow them to thrive.
Effective energy policy advances social and economic priorities for diversity and inclusion. It is estimated that nearly 50% of job opportunities in the energy sector through 2040 will be filled by people of color. The Mid-Atlantic region has the energy supply, workers, materials and funding to grow our natural gas infrastructure.
Virginians shouldn’t have to suffer through another cold winter of exceedingly high energy costs. With a plentiful supply of natural gas that can affordably and reliably meet our energy needs, there is no excuse for inaction.
My Lan Tran is executive director of the Virginia Asian Chamber of Commerce and administrator at the Virginia Asian Foundation. Contact her at email@example.com.