OPINION: Pipeline cyberattack highlights need for energy resiliency

"Wildflowers at Markle Dam" by USACE HQ is marked with CC PDM 1.0

When we think about energy resiliency, we often think of the need to have access to energy and fuel sources in cases of natural disasters.

But the recent Colonial Pipeline cyberattack highlights another very real threat — and the far-reaching consequences — associated with disruptions to our access to petroleum and its supply chain.

- advertisement -

The U.S. Department of Energy defines energy resiliency as “the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions. Resilience includes the ability to withstand and recover from deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring threats or incidents.”

Historically, East Coast hurricanes have served as examples of natural disasters where access to clean, domestic, sustainable fuels played a critical role when petroleum supplies were compromised.

In 2012, Atlantic City, N.J., used the 190 compressed natural gas-fueled buses in its fleet to safely evacuate residents during Hurricane Sandy. Repair to damaged power lines was assisted by propane-fueled as well as hybrid electric bucket trucks.

When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, the nation experienced a 30% reduction in refining capacity, but compressed natural gas supplies remained unharmed, in large part because of the natural gas-powered generators that kept the pumps running. As a result, CNG-fueled vehicles were able to assist in disaster response.

The key to being able to respond when these disasters struck was in the planning. These vehicles and pieces of equipment were at the ready when needed without the need for petroleum. Preparation before disaster strikes is key, and it’s what we at South Shore Clean Cities strive to do every day.

South Shore Clean Cities is one of more than 75 Clean Cities Coalitions designated by the U.S. Department of Energy and is the only Clean Cities coalition in the state of Indiana. The organizations support the nation’s energy and economic security by building partnerships to advance affordable domestic transportation fuels, energy-efficient mobility systems and other fuel-saving technologies and practices.

The coalitions achieve this in a number of ways, including the advancement of alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles and sustainable vehicle technologies such as electric vehicles and their charging infrastructure. The efforts reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil, improve air quality, support local jobs, drive economic development and promote improved quality of life.

Our Indiana Green Fleet program is assisting fleets with adoption throughout the state. As part of the program, South Shore Clean Cities conducts a thorough analysis of member fleets to gauge the best types of vehicles and equipment for the individual fleet to help maximize emissions reductions and cost savings. These analyses also serve to help the fleets become grant-ready, as the information gathered is often required for grant applications.

The Indiana Green Fleet program also provides education and outreach, training, technical support, peer-to-peer exchanges with other fleet managers and much more.

We know there will always be challenges to overcome, including when it comes to our fueling and energy supplies. What are you doing today to help prepare for tomorrow?

Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.

This column originally appeared in The Times of Northwest Indiana. Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here