By Craig Smith, Director of Government Affairs at Food Northwest
Have you ever had one of those moments where you did something with the very best of intentions, but it turned out to be a really bad decision? I have for sure. I once had the opportunity to be a Marshal for a PGA golf event. It was a great experience. The hole I was on was a par three that had a water hazard. One very famous PGA player hit a club too long and flew the green into an unplayable location. I jumped into action and prepared the spot for him to drop a new ball, taking down the string barrier that separated the gallery from the green. I had it all prepared and was quite proud of myself when I realized that he was going to hit his second shot from the provisional green that was about a hundred yards away from where I was so busy deconstructing the barrier. Embarrassing! Intentions were good, but my actions fell short.
Today, our region is considering climate solutions that greatly limit energy choices and will result in fewer innovations in clean hydrogen and renewable natural gas. Restricting natural gas and its infrastructure is wrong and shortsighted. The sincere intention of protecting the environment has led to false choices. The outcome of those false choices could be devastating to the people of the planet.
I work for the food manufacturers located in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We are the third largest manufacturing employment sector in the Northwest. We feed you and are proud to do so. Food manufacturing plants run on natural gas. It fires our boilers, which are the heart of a food plant and central to the safety protocols that bring wholesome and tasty foods to your table. Eliminating the use of natural gas will eliminate food manufacturing. It’s just that simple. There is no feasible alternative. A whole manufacturing sector would simply go away along with the foods that make up your favorite meals.
This is where the false choices come to play. Natural gas, manufacturing and climate protection can be partners. Did you know that food manufacturers in the NW have reduced their carbon footprint by 25% over the past ten years? And, we have now adopted an industry wide goal of reducing another 25% over the coming ten-year period. That reduction is voluntary and will be made while using natural gas, one of the cleanest fuel sources in existence.
Good energy policy is driven by good information. Get informed. Natural gas can be part of the solution. Just ask the food industry.