En­ergy leader urges spend­ing be­yond bridges and roads

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BUSINESS - By James Os­borne james.os­borne@chron.com twit­ter.com/os­borneja

WASH­ING­TON — Jack Ger­ard, the leader of the na­tion’s big­gest oil and gas in­dus­try trade group, urged Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last week to re­mem­ber the en­ergy sec­tor when it comes to fix­ing the na­tion’s in­fra­struc­ture.

En­ergy lob­by­ists are ea­ger to see Congress take steps to speed oil and gas pipe­line per­mit­ting, mod­ern­ize the na­tion’s power grid to ad­dress the ex­pan­sion of wind, so­lar and non­tra­di­tional en­ergy sources, and pro­vide bet­ter de­fense against cy­ber threats. Ger­ard, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Petroleum In­sti­tute, made his com­ments as Trump works on get­ting an in­fra­struc­ture bill to Congress later this year.

“Too of­ten, the in­fra­struc­ture con­ver­sa­tion is lim­ited to high­ways, roads and bridges — which rely heav­ily on gov­ern­ment fund­ing,” he said in a speech. “By ex­pand­ing our fo­cus and con­sid­er­ing the great op­por­tu­nity of en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments, we could po­ten­tially dou­ble the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of in­fra­struc­ture in this coun­try.”

Ger­ard ap­plauded the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s an­nounce­ment last week that it planned to open up 90 per­cent of U.S. coast­lines to off­shore drilling, in­clud­ing the At­lantic and Arc­tic oceans.

“It rep­re­sents a bold ac­knowl­edge­ment of the in­dus­try’s ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy to safely ac­cess U.S. en­ergy re­sources,” he said.

But Ger­ard was less happy about the White House’s moves to rene­go­ti­ate global trade agree­ments like the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“Global trade flows have played a crit­i­cal role in Amer­ica’s en­ergy re­nais­sance — spurring eco­nomic growth and in­vest­ment and creat­ing Amer­i­can jobs,” he said. “As the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues ne­go­ti­a­tions with Canada and Mex­ico, we urge them to seek mod­ern­iza­tion in ways that main­tain th­ese ben­e­fits.”

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