David Dismukes studies the energy industry for a living. As the executive director of the Center for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University, he has spent the last 30 years pinpointing the industry’s challenges and theorizing around it’s rapidly changing future.

This is what he wants you to know: The energy transition from fossil fuels to solar and wind sources is real. “It’s happening and it’s gonna continue to happen.”

“At this point, It doesn’t matter if you’re right, wrong, for, or against,” said Dismukes. “People and industries are making, not just hundreds of millions, but billion-dollar decisions based on the belief that this transition is here.”

It’s creating – and taking away – jobs, swaying the economy, and transforming how we commute. The transition is also killing refineries, to the sounds of praise from environmental groups and uncertainty from the thousands of oil industry workers.

In January 2020, a few months before the first coronavirus pandemic shutdown, the American oil refining industry reached its highest capacity peak in history. It didn’t last long. Within months, six refineries, including the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in Philadelphia – the 13th largest in the country – shut off oil production. By December, U.S. oil consumption reached a 25-year low. In the next two years, Wood Mackenzie, an energy consulting group, forecasts that 20 refineries across the globe, including roughly a dozen in the U.S., will cease operations.

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