One Thing We Haven’t Had to Live Without During the Pandemic

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Without a doubt, 2020 taught us to live without a lot of things. Shortages of basic daily items like Clorox wipes and toilet paper have become the norm. Even time with friends and family has become a sought after luxury. One thing we haven’t had to live without? Energy. 

American energy hasn’t missed a beat. Why? Because it’s powered the trucks delivering critical PPE supplies to hospitals and food and disinfectant supplies to our supermarkets. Natural gas pipelines and plants have provided the heat and electricity needed to heat and power our homes and businesses. Energy is such an affordable and reliable part of our everyday life that we often don’t notice it. And that’s a good thing. At the same time, however, it’s essential that we continue to spotlight the critical contributions of the oil and gas industry during this pandemic.

In April, we discussed how fossil fuel companies had stepped up to ensure Americans had the supplies they needed to fight the virus. When our frontline heroes faced critical shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE) and sanitizer during the early days of the pandemic, companies like Exxon ramped up production of important petrochemicals like polypropylene (vital for the plastic in PPE) and isopropyl alcohol (used in hand sanitizer). And what’s the critical fossil fuel feedstock needed to make these petrochemicals? Natural gas.

Fortunately, 2021 has shown there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has begun. And once again, we must highlight the role the fossil fuel industry will play in returning us to a sense of normalcy. The vaccines are packaged in medical-grade plastic made from polypropylene. Access to affordable and reliable power allows pharmacies to store the shots at the required sub-zero temperatures. The shots require single-use syringes, again made from petroleum-based plastic. 

When we talk of petroleum products, we often focus on electricity generation or fuel for our vehicles and how those supplies need to remain both abundant, affordable, and reliable. But crude oil and natural gas are also raw materials. Without them, we wouldn’t have access to the critical tools needed to crush the virus.

So many of us begrudgingly learned to adapt to the “new normal” in 2020. Luckily, that new normal didn’t diminish our access to affordable and reliable energy, making our adjustment to life with Covid-19 somewhat tolerable. Access to an affordable and reliable supply of oil and natural gas will enable us to produce, distribute, and store the critical vaccines needed to crush the virus.