Daniel Turner: Defeating coronavirus would be impossible without energy workers who power the fight

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In the world war now underway against the coronavirus, doctors, nurses and other medical staffers are the front-line troops, courageously risking getting infected themselves – and sometimes losing their lives – to do everything possible for their patients. We all owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

And like every army at war, the fighters on the front line are backed by many support troops. In this case, the support troops include are scientists working to develop a coronavirus vaccine and lifesaving treatments, manufacturers producing ventilators and personal protective equipment, government officials coordinating the battle, the men and women of our energy industry, and many others.

Our energy industry?

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I know, you may not have thought of the roughly 14 million men and women working in our energy industry as having anything to do with the war against the coronavirus. You’ve no doubt heard them demonized by advocates of the Green New Deal, who seek to destroy the industry and make us dependent on foreign energy suppliers who would dramatically raise prices, destroy American jobs and create dangerous energy shortages in our country.

Ventilators and a great deal of other life-saving medical equipment are useless without electric power. Scientists in labs can’t conduct their research in dark rooms during a blackout. And plastic – a vital part of medical equipment, phones, and thousands of products used in health care and every other part of our lives – is made with oil or natural gas.

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Energy workers power the trucks driven by 3.5 million drivers that deliver medical and all other supplies to every part of our country. Energy workers power the refrigeration on trucks, trains and in stores that supply the food for all of us – including medical personnel.

And without the mechanized farm equipment that runs on diesel, our farmers would be thrown back into the 1800s with horse-drawn plows, unable to produce enough of the food we need to stay alive.

Many of the environmental extremists who want to destroy our domestic energy industry are now working from home and typing away on their plastic smartphones and computer keyboards, turning on lights, taking hot showers, adjusting the heat and air conditioning, and jumping into their cars to shop for food.

How do these folks think their computers run and the Internet operates? Both would be knocked out of commission without electric power.

And who isn’t working from home right now? In addition to our heroic medical front-line troops, energy workers and others who support our medical heroes are hard at work far from home.

It’s impossible to produce the oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and green energy that keep America and our health care system operating while sitting safely at home and typing on a computer.

Energy workers have dirt under their fingernails and sweat on their brows as they labor to make our modern way of life possible. And as horrific as the coronavirus pandemic is today, imagine how powerless we would be to fight it if we were living 150 years ago.

I grow angry when politicians dismiss the American energy industry and claim we can do away with fossil fuels without destroying our economy and way of life. They are perpetuating a dangerous fantasy.

Energy workers are not able to practice social distancing. Their industry, despite being at a critical point and nearing bankruptcy, isn’t even part of the $2 trillion congressional rescue package.

“Big oil” they sneer on the House and Senate floors, ignoring the obvious fact that the lights, cameras, microphones and transmission equipment that broadcast their words around the world are powered by the very energy workers they dismiss.

Millions of these energy workers remain on the job despite the risks of exposure to the coronavirus. And millions will get laid off if our economy doesn’t rebound quickly,

Most of us don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it. Think back to a time when you last experienced a power outage from a storm. You flick on the light switch and nothing happens. If the outage lasts long enough, all the food in your refrigerator and freezer spoil.

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Without electricity your computers, TVs, and all the other things that that run on electricity are useless. Even the pumps at the local gas station don’t work – and without fuel, your car becomes just a place to sit and go nowhere.

Even worse, imagine if you or a loved one was stricken with the coronavirus and was on a ventilator. Thankfully, hospitals have backup power generators. If they didn’t, a power outage would become a death sentence for patients on ventilators.

We take safe, reliable and affordable power for granted. Who in America in 2020 ever turns on the light and shouts in surprise, “Eureka, it works!” We’ve come to expect nothing less.

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Our energy workers deserve some kinder words and gratitude for all they do. Perhaps some thanks for staying on the job when millions of Americans are staying home in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

We will get through the coronavirus nightmare. America has the skill. It has the strength. It has the courage. And thanks to millions of men and women across this great nation, it has the power as well.

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