#5. Economics and planning infrastructure

Episode Summary

In this episode I speak with Benjamin Dierker about economics and planning infrastructure.

Episode Notes


Benjamin’s background- Texas A&M, JD from George Mason, AII

How Benjamin got interested in climate and infrastructure

An overview of AII and what Benjamin does there

What’s so hard about planning infrastructure for the climate transition?

Hidden costs and consequences of the infrastructure we are planning

How policy makers should view and plan for these large projects

What the biggest policy changes need to be to make our transition happen


Episode Transcription


Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Groundswell, an open ended exploration into the sustainability and climate movement and my quest to document conversations with bright minds in the space.

I'm your host, Danny Kirk, and today I'm joined by Benjamin Durker. Benjamin is the executive director of AII, specializing in economic, administrative, and legal aspects of American energy. transportation, infrastructure, and innovation. His goal is to analyze and explain the economic and legal realities underpinning public policy at the state and federal level.

He strives to bring a balanced, accurate, and accessible perspective to enable students, specialists, the public, and elected representatives to make the best informed decisions on these critical issues. Benjamin is a graduate of Texas A& M University for his bachelor's and master's degree and earned his JD from George Mason University.

Benjamin, welcome to the show.

Benjamin: Thank you for having me. It's [00:01:00] an honor and I look forward to our discussion.

Danny: Could you give our listeners a little bit of background, how you got to where you are now at AII?

Benjamin: Yeah, so I started studying economics while I was at Texas A& M and really just fell in love with the public policy side of things. I think economics really underpins everything that we do in the political sphere. And the more that I studied that, the more I saw career opportunities. I really gravitated toward think tank work, where I could do a little bit of academic and a little bit of politics mixed together.

And so, um, I got hooked up with AII while I was a grad student, and it was actually an internship. And long story short, now I'm the executive director. So, um, it was a very cool journey, but it all started with economics. And I really just a love for public policy.

Danny: Was there anything that you learned from your JD at George Mason University that kind of adds value to what you do today?

Benjamin: Yeah, definitely. [00:02:00] Um, We like to say at AII that we study the intersection of economics, law, and public policy, and I really geared my own education for that exact intersection um, doing an economics bachelor's, a master's in public administration, and policy analysis, and then a law degree. And at George Mason, I really tried to emphasize study of both economics, because they have a great economics program, and administrative and regulatory law.

And so, it really gave me keen insight into how laws are written, what legal code and text, how, it's really its own language. You know, a person off the street maybe can pick up a law or a bill. And read most of it, but sometimes they use words in a way that the average person doesn't. Um, or they reference older legislation or code.

Um, so it's just really helpful in decoding some of the way that our policy makers talk about things. And some of the structures that our, our world is sort of built around in legal language.

Danny: Of [00:03:00] course. Our discussion today is a little bit around climate and infrastructure. Was there anything in your background, your education or your internship that got you interested in that subject matter?

Benjamin: I think what I would start with is saying, one, everything has to do with economics in some way, and since economics is really a study of behavior and tradeoffs, um, every debate in climate and sustainability policy is about, not necessarily sacrificing, but trading off, um, either an energy, security, or, or robust energy, or

Danny: Okay.

Benjamin: Access to something you're trying to prevent negative externalities like pollution and emissions.

And so it was really came from the study of economics, um, and just seeing how that is a field that can apply to this area. Um, but I would also add we study infrastructure and you really can't have a climate policy without infrastructure and [00:04:00] whether that's on the roadways or the electrical grid, it's really all interconnected in a really neat way that I think the average person doesn't always see because there's a lot of complicated systems that interact with each other behind the scenes of our, our typical daily life,

Danny: And we'll, we'll dive into that a bit more here in a few minutes, but could you, um, first give us a little bit of an overview of what you all are focusing on these days at AI and kind of what specifically your work entails there. Alright. Sorry,

Benjamin: certainly. So AII is the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure. We're the nation's only public policy think tank that is dedicated to infrastructure. We have a lot of think tanks around DC and around the country that do economic policy, foreign policy, um, study even transportation, but we're the only one focused right on infrastructure.

And we think that that's really neat because it actually touches on all the different aspects of life that we do use, supply chains, transportation, energy, um, even [00:05:00] innovation and technology. There's a, an infrastructure component that anchors all of that. And so that's the work we're doing at AI. It's studying infrastructure.

It's seeking to foster innovative solutions to current and future public policy challenges. Um, not just physical infrastructure like roads and bridges, but how we fund those. So, uh, innovative policy mechanisms like the highway trust fund. Or, um, different, uh, ways that we use and structure our laws to achieve things like, uh, climate policy, for instance.

Um, we're looking a lot at decarbonization right now. Uh, that's something we'll talk about here in a minute. But, um, when we think as a country about shifting away from the way we've done things for a long time, there's a whole lot that, um, people don't really realize. We've been doing this whole time. Um, some of the, the way our, our systems are built rely on certain things.

And if we try to switch without replacing that foundation, we have a lot of issues. So that's [00:06:00] the work we're currently doing, trying to understand what those, um, sort of the pillars of our current society are on a climate basis and how, if we're trying to evolve. Or shift anything, how we can do that without sacrificing energy security or, um, really just reliability of the systems that we use, whether that's electricity or safe water, and a lot of the things that we rely on daily, but don't really think about.

Danny: Well, all right, let's dive into the kind of infrastructure part of this discussion. So what is so hard about planning infrastructure? You know, there's municipalities, governments that have a bunch of money, just dump it on the problem, right? Or is it far more complex than that?

Benjamin: all the problems, we would not have many problems. Except money problems with inflation and things, but, um, really even just that joke, inflation is its own cost that drags infrastructure issues down. So you can think of like potholes, anyone [00:07:00] who's driven anywhere ever has hit a pothole or they've seen one.

It's just, it's literally impossible not to have encountered one. Um, and that's an infrastructure issue that has two things. It's a physical. hole that needs to be physically filled, and it's a policy issue that needs to be funded, and somebody has to pay to do it and prioritize it. infrastructure itself we think of as physical systems like roads and bridges. Levees and seawalls, but it's also our electrical grid, things that connect us to the power sources we use, the internet of things. It's really almost everything that's physical that connects our society, and because it's all interconnected, there's basically an externality that's going to happen.

If you need to work on the road, you're going to cause traffic. That means you have to work with city planners. That means you have to work with public works. You're going to create ripple effects for any project you do. So that's kind of a first line. The second is everything costs money. Um, if we could just solve [00:08:00] everything with money, we would solve a lot more problems, but, um, even within the money category.

We have a revenue side issue and a spending side issue. You can take the highway trust fund, for example, that's how we fund our roads. We don't bring in enough money because the gas tax hasn't been raised in years. So then there's a political aspect, uh, just to the raising of money on the spending side, we have maintenance backlogs.

So the roads, if you don't fix them right away, the problem actually gets worse. And then it costs more money to fix. And if you don't bring in money that matches inflation. The purchasing power of the money you do have is weaker, so it won't actually buy as much road. So, it really, it touches on money, it touches on politics, it touches on just the practicality of doing it.

But then, a totally separate side of this is like land acquisition. So you think of a big infrastructure project. We're gonna build a wind farm, way out in the middle of nowhere. Well, who owns that land? How do you get permission to use it? Do you have access to all the [00:09:00] materials that you'll need to build it?

Do you have permission from the government, regulatory permitting compliance? Um, do you have the funding to build the project over the course of many years? Have you connected that to the energy grid so that it's a usable power source? There's just so many things that compound so no infrastructure project is as simple as Oh, we have the land, the idea, and the money.

Let's build it. It really has to be connected with all these different aspects, and that can just make things really complicated to do, even before you factor in all the government compliance.

Danny: Now, when you talk about infrastructure projects, do you delineate between, um, kind of standard infrastructure and then. scalable, like unit based infrastructure, say, um, you know, rapidly deployable storage and things like that. Is that different in your mind? Or there's still considerations that people forget about with those projects as well.

Benjamin: There's definitely a [00:10:00] delineation. On the one hand, something that's more modular would almost be considered technology, or like appliance isn't the right word, but a singular piece of equipment rather than a piece of infrastructure. But then you plug that into a wider infrastructure network. So if it's like battery storage, yeah, the individual battery may not itself be considered infrastructure, but once it's in a, um, circuit with large scale industrial batteries that's connected to the grid, this is a wider infrastructure issue.

Um, and I think also there's something people don't always realize there's public policy constraints, even on things like an appliance or an equipment. Um, and I can, I can give a really neat example maybe later on, but, um, everything that has complicated solutions, isn't just infrastructure. There's complicated issues for everything, even plugging something in to the existing infrastructure can be met with its own [00:11:00] challenges.

Danny: So kind of along those same lines, what are some of the biggest hidden costs and consequences of infrastructure that we're currently planning today that many of us either don't think about or have trouble considering as part of our planning purposes? Silence.

Benjamin: in how long things will take. Um, there's a hugely popular movement for wind and solar and for electric vehicles. Those are two aspects of sort of the, the energy transition. One is energy generation and one is using that energy to, to fix our transportation fleet in a certain way.

And obviously we have wind and solar utility scale that's out there right now. And we obviously have tons of electric vehicles on the road. So people's minds can't really comprehend. They think, Oh, we have these things. It's just a matter of scaling up. And that seems like it should be really simple, but to do any [00:12:00] of that at a larger scale would take 20 years, 30 years, because ramping it up isn't as simple as adding another wind farm out there.

An average wind farm can take four years just to build. But there's six years of compliance with federal environmental policy. You have to connect it with a transmission line, and if there's no electrical grid out there, that takes 10 years to build, if not 15. And so, you can see how if you're not doing a ton of these things concurrently, the time just to do them is 10 plus years, 20 plus years.

And so, that's a cost, that's a real cost that people really don't factor in. And if we want to do a really efficient energy transition, all of those things have to be lined up to be done concurrently. And you have to have regulatory reform to allow them to have smooth processing through permitting and, um, just approvals, environmental studies, and those kind of things.

And that's another [00:13:00] cost. People don't always think of the environmental studies as their own cost, because inside of an environmental study, you do a cost benefit analysis. But that whole process is a cost. Costs and time are two of the core things.

Danny: And I suppose one of those other cost is opportunity cost of not doing the other thing that one is not doing during that time. Is that correct? Thank

Benjamin: build something that's low emission, or you can do right now something like natural gas, which is half the emissions. So for the next 20 years, you can have half the emissions you would have otherwise had, or you can totally shutter natural gas.

But then be waiting around for that wind and solar or the other low carbon solution to be put in place because it just won't be put in place immediately. And in the meantime, people don't realize this, they're gonna be burning a whole lot more coal. So if people aren't [00:14:00] thinking about this in the long term, they end up not doing things that are actually net benefits.

And I think that's counterintuitive, but like natural gas is a beneficial solution in the short term. That people don't like because it does emit. But if you need this, if you need the power, you need the heat, you need the electricity and you're, you're waiting around for the permitting approvals for your wind and solar farms or your nuclear, you got to have something.

And the low emission is better than something like coal, which just gets turned to, this has happened in Europe. It happens here. People don't like it, but that it's the way of the world. If, if they're not thinking about it,

Danny: Yeah, certainly so. And I think other people also, um, missed the idea of, uh, the compounding nature of the climate spiral we're in. So in the decade or two decades where you're trying to permit and build that really amazing tech that's like 100 percent green, let's just say, You could be dialing down the emissions of the current system by, say, half, [00:15:00] and then that current cycle is helped drastically.

Whereas you're making a big bet in the future on this, um, thing that has risk that is non zero, not happening, whereas, you know, little, little things could change. Would you agree with that sentiment? Or do you think about it in a different way?

Benjamin: I would only add that we can sort of walk and chew gum at the same time. It's not all about energy. I love energy. That's one of my favorite things to talk about. Um, and when people think about climate centric policy or infrastructure, they think wind and solar, maybe they think nuclear, but that's really a divided camp.

There are whole areas of this policy area that are totally separate. Like, um, you have direct air capture of carbon, carbon dioxide, which is a, a negative carbon process that's not about producing energy at all. Um, and you can do that at the same time that you're ramping up the [00:16:00] energy solution. You can obviously plant a million more trees.

Like, there's, there's so many things you can do at the same time. And honestly, you could do all of that with natural gas and still have negative emissions. And if you do something like renewable natural gas, biogas, you can have negative... emissions because you're capturing methane that was out there in the atmosphere, still using it like natural gas, but then sequestering the carbon that was from it, and plant trees, and do direct air capture.

You can do all those things at the same time, and there's no spiral issue there, um, and you can expand the economy depending on how you How you do it if you're, if you're allowing robust energy from that natural gas or something, which helps, you know, promote R& D, which promotes better innovative technology getting out there in the first place.

So I just think it's a, it's an all of the above and I would include, honestly, hydrocarbons, not just natural gas, you got to use what you have available. Um, and you do need things [00:17:00] like oil to run the transportation system and to get the rare earth minerals and the things that you'll need for the electric vehicles.

And, um, it's really a, an all of the above type of solution and you can still achieve the best benefits.

Danny: Yeah, certainly, those all those things are not mutually exclusive. Um, on the kind of infrastructure side of things, let's talk about utilities and how they kind of play a role in all this. As an example, here in Tucson, um, you know, or one of our. Great resources in Arizona is sunlight. So we're trying to put a lot of solar panels on the roofs.

Everyone's mad at the utilities for charging more, but at the same time, all the homes are becoming little utilities themselves. But at the same time, they're connected to the grid, meaning the utilities are making less money on their production, but they are still having to keep up with the infrastructure and actually expand the infrastructure to meet that additional demand from these new tiny little utilities.

How do you see utilities? Playing a role in all this and how can [00:18:00] we work together with them?

Benjamin: Yeah, I definitely think utilities have to go hand in hand with public policy. Because, and it's not always just funding or things like that, but they need to be in lockstep, because something like improving the grid, depending on where in the country, that is a private sector issue, and in other parts it's a public sector issue, um, public private partnerships maybe are part of that solution, but, um, if we want to connect rooftop solar, for instance, to our energy grid, We need a smarter grid that allows flow of electrons in both directions, can reroute power if there's an issue.

Um, these are upgrades to the physical infrastructure that any one party isn't just going to do all of a sudden. Not least of which, because even if the utility wanted to do it, they'd have to get permission from some government body at some stage to do it. Um, and then there's issues that are [00:19:00] literally...

Out of sight, out of mind, people don't think about, like, utilities tend to bury their infrastructure, so we obviously think of overhead power lines, but there are over 20 million miles of buried power lines and pipelines and, um, cables and wires, and those utilities also have costs from people doing digging projects, excavation, whether that's like a home project, literally digging, planting a tree, This could beRS.

But you've got to negotiate with them, and in Maryland we don't care about OSTs. And so that hopefully comes to a nut, but what we do worry about is Or, um, building a development of some kind. Anytime somebody digs, they end up risking hitting a lot of those utility lines. So the utilities can actually lose money on that side of things too.

If, if we only think about this as like the top of your roof where the sun is hitting, you're missing a whole picture of what those utilities are facing. Not that we should just have sympathy for the utilities, but I think that's something we need to factor in. They have literally battles on, on both sides of their business model.[00:20:00]

So I kind of bring that up cause it's a really niche area. People don't think about, cause it's literally underground, out of sight, out of mind. But then when people do excavation, it ends up harming our physical infrastructure. It creates new costs that can ripple throughout the community.

Danny: When viewing these larger projects, how do you think that policymakers should be considering kind of the costs, the consequences, and things like that? Is there any particular framework that you would recommend people kind of view these things through?

Benjamin: There is, um, we at AII just recently put out a report offering a new framework, totally novel way to approach this issue that it essentially does what most people already do, a cost benefit analysis, but it makes that cumulative. So at AII, we recently put out a new report that offers a new framework for analyzing and assessing nationwide and economy [00:21:00] wide decarbonization strategies. So this basically takes advantage of an existing process everyone knows and loves called the cost benefit analysis, and typically that lives inside of an environmental study.

So when somebody wants to do an infrastructure project, They're required to do regulatory compliance, which means, um, to get approval, they have to prove there's a net benefit to this pipeline, wind farm, solar, uh, array, whatever it ends up being. What we do is called a cumulative cost benefit analysis. So there's two things that are unique about that.

The first is that it pulls the cost benefit analysis outside of the environmental study so that that environmental study and the regulatory compliance is a cost, so policy makers need to be viewing that as a cost, because if they don't, they're not seeing how law and policy itself is a hindrance to building infrastructure.

And ultimately, it's a hindrance to climate [00:22:00] solutions. If we need to be moving towards nuclear, wind, and solar, 20, 30 years. To do the wind and the nuclear and the solar and the transmission lines and all of that. If they're not seeing how their own policies hold that back, then we're never actually going to get past it.

So viewing that as a cost is the first element of our cumulative cost benefit analysis. And the second is that it doesn't just view an individual project as the cost benefit analysis subject. So we obviously analyze the wind farm we want to build. And that includes a whole lot of things. But then we're also going to do a whole analysis on the transmission line that's not built yet, that has to be in place before that is a meaningful project connected to the grid with energy we can use.

So those two things are what's unique. Inside of the cost benefit analysis, we have six factors that if your policy or your project can [00:23:00] meet these and demonstrate that it has a favorable cost benefit analysis, then it's good to go. You should green light it. Those include the cost of the project. Not just the project itself, but the thing it's producing.

So if it's a decarbonization strategy. If you are wanting to produce heat for process heat or electricity. Um, can you do it at a cost effective rate, or does it cost way too much to produce that unit of electricity? Um, environmental impact. People don't always consider that even renewables have huge environmental impacts.

You gotta do a lot of mining to get the raw materials out. Um, those raw materials are often from overseas, which means you also have supply chain, um, emissions from, largely from bunker fuel that's on, um, maritime vessels. You also have retiring the wind blades or the solar panels, uh, typically in landfills.

Those are, are sort of life cycle emissions and costs [00:24:00] that we want to build into our economic side. I already mentioned the regulatory and permitting compliance is its own cost we have to analyze. How long does it take to get through this? How much red tape and paperwork is there? The timing is its own cost.

So if it takes 10 years to build this, whereas another strategy that's equally effective might take 5 years, policy makers should favor the one over the other. Um, logistical feasibility, I mentioned the supply chains. Is there a risk to getting all the things we need for this? Does a lot of it live in a hostile country?

Um, do we have our own reserves of this that we can green light? And then last is just like the potential for, if it's power, how much power can this thing produce? Wind and solar, you know, people on one side hate, um, hearing this, but they're subject to the wind and, and the sun. And so if it's cloudy or if there's not wind, they're not as effective.

Um, and so you have things like nuclear that can produce tons of energy continuously forever. Um, those [00:25:00] have to be ranked up against each other, and you may have a wind project that is super cost effective, low environmental impact, and so the power potential, even if it doesn't have as high relative to nuclear, maybe you can build that wind farm twice as fast as a nuclear plant.

And so we want policy makers to see all these factors and understand the relative benefits of a given project so that they're not rushing in to subsidize or penalize something just because it's fashionable. They're saying, look, we like hydrogen. Let's do it. But with our model, they'll say, okay, well, you know, producing the hydrogen is one thing.

Then you have to build new hydrogen pipelines to transport it. And a pipeline takes 10 years to build, and that's going to take eminent domain and, um, regulatory compliance itself. So we want them seeing all these things, not siloed in just the hydrogen production, but understanding the hydrogen requires the pipeline.

Not just siloed in the wind farm, but knowing the wind farm [00:26:00] requires the transmission pipeline. So that's the cumulative nature of the cost benefit analysis. You have to analyze the one, and then the other, add them all together. And the last thing I'll say on this is, policymakers are in the seat of seeing everything from kind of the high up view.

It's one individual project builder who's building the wind farm. The wind farm builder doesn't build the transmission lines, but the policymaker is the one approving all of those and seeing the larger scheme and offering subsidies or penalties or having regulatory reform. So we want the policymaker to see the wide view here and know if you approve this project, you're going to have to approve this one.

If you reject this project, here's the factors that are going to be at play. That's my long winded answer.

Danny: No, that's fantastic. Um, and on the kind of policy side of things, are there any big policy changes that you think need to occur in order to make this energy transition occur?

Benjamin: I don't have specific, [00:27:00] you know, red line to the text, but we absolutely have to reform our environmental laws. We used to build huge infrastructure projects in this country, the Hoover Dam, most of our energy grid itself, the highway system. These things could not be built today. And a lot of it has to do with years of environmental studies that are required for every project.

Um, I'm not going to say here that, you know, let all the endangered species die, because that's not my position. I just mean, you have to streamline it. If one cost benefit analysis is sufficient, don't require a second. If it's one loud voice complaining we don't like the project, don't let them drown out a really effective project that's already been approved.

Um, we have a really big problem with Environmental litigation in this country right now, and it's because all these laws exist, and it just creates avenue after avenue to challenge even permits that are already approved can be challenged and taken away, [00:28:00] and so no builder is going to invest millions of dollars if they know they don't even have the guarantee once they have the permits.

So. Something in that space has to be streamlined, and there has to be more surety about once you've got the permits. If you have to make it much more rigorous to get the permits, do that. But once you have the permits, don't let them be taken away. If you rip the rug out, you delay the project by 10 15 years.

And you just create uncertainty, and that creates... added costs.

Danny: Is there anything about the greenhouse gas reduction fund that worries you from an inflation perspective as far as a lack of workers to fulfill the projects that we are about to dump 20 to 7 billion on or even the raw materials needed to complete those projects? Silence.

Benjamin: Um, I would start by saying anytime the government or, or just large entities are doling out money, there is 100 percent going to be [00:29:00] inefficiency. And that's just a, that's just the way economics works. If it's not your own money, you're not spending it as efficiently as you could.


Danny: no skin in the game.

Benjamin: yeah, um, I would say I have, I have general concern that anytime money's being given out, it is going to be spent inefficiently, potentially. Um, but also that they're not going to necessarily pick the best projects, prioritize the funding in the right way. And that's where something like our model is important because we're not saying don't give money to people.

We're saying analyze all the factors at play and then reward the most effective solutions. Um, as far as inflation, that is happening everywhere and always right now. And I think it's going to affect the energy and the climate sectors as much as anything. You had another question in there. I think about the, the materials needed.

It, this depends on all the different projects you're trying to do. I have very real concerns about the [00:30:00] physics about the energy transition. I just think there's so much raw material, and not even the rare earths that are a little bit harder, some of them occur in less frequency. Just the, like the steel, the regular mineral ore that we use for our regular infrastructure.

There is so much more of that demanded to do, like the energy transition by 2030, by 2050, that I don't know how we're going to get it all. With the current policy, the current economics, so many factors have to change to make those things... realistic. And I think we can drastically expand wind and solar and electric vehicles and all these things.

I don't know that everyone in the whole world, including Europe and Asia, can all meet this 2050 goal, where everyone quadruples their wind and solar and everyone quadruples their... Electric vehicle fleets. I don't know that the raw materials exist for that in that relevant [00:31:00] timescale. And I would only add, there's something called the economic accessibility of resources.

So even if the things are physically in the ground, they're not always economically accessible. So, you know, think about oil. If it's super deep in the ground, it's not as recoverable as a reserve. Because it costs too much to get to. And so when we think about the raw materials, it's not just the availability, although I think that is suspect for the largest scale version of this.

It's also getting access to it and then transporting it, processing it. And all of that has its own greenhouse gas and its own environmental stuff. There's these cumulative aspects of, um, just to build the green infrastructure requires a lot of. Oil and gas, or emissions, uh, big heavy machinery, supply chains.

Again, long winded kind of response there, but all of these things intersect with so many other things, not to [00:32:00] mention the politics, that, um, it's gonna be complicated. It's gonna be a hard fight. That's what I'll, I'll leave it at.

Danny: One final question. There's a quote that's attributed to either Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffett, invest in things that never change and thinking about economics and human incentives and things like that. What can we assume? Always stay the same in economics and human incentives, things that can be baseline assumptions that we could potentially leverage to have the most positive effect in the actions we are about to take.

Benjamin: That is a fascinating question. So, I would start with things like we will always need to move. Transportation will always be something that has to be supplied. Then you have dividing camps. Is that personal transportation, like cars, which the U. S. is very heavy on cars, [00:33:00] or more of a European model, like public transport, rail, light rail?

The common factor is movement. We have to move. And I think not only transportation, but energy. We're gonna have to have at least electricity. Now, we don't always have to have combustible energy, but we have to have energy in some form. Um, and I think something I haven't heard those quotes before, but I think that's really fascinating.

Um, one thing I've noticed is big energy producers like Shell and Exxon who are traditionally fossil fuel oil and gas companies are starting to rebrand as energy companies, not just oil companies, because what they're doing is investing in renewables. And carbon capture and a lot of these other things because they want to stay in the game and it's the commonality.

There's energy, not oil, not what kind of energy. [00:34:00] So I think you're already seeing that in the big players. Um, some people may complain that, you know, big oil producers only doing this so they can keep producing the oil. And I think that's not right. I think they're doing it because there's an economic incentive to supply energy.

I don't know for the average person or the average policymaker even, but I do think there, there are things that we will always need and always have, and we should focus on streamlining incentives and policy to at least allow those things to continue smoothly. And to encourage innovation in them. We don't always have to have cars that operate the same way, but we do have to move people.

So allowing a regulatory climate that encourages innovation. So people can think of more efficient and faster ways and safer ways to move people. Um, I would just say from a policymaker standpoint. Focus on those things that aren't going to change and allow them to change in ways that are evolving with innovation.

Um, don't pigeonhole them [00:35:00] into a particular policy framework, even.

Danny: Benjamin, thanks very much for coming on our show. If listeners are interested in learning more about what

Benjamin: Hey, you can find me and my nonprofit at AII. org and across all social media at AII nonprofit. That is the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure.

Danny: Excellent. Benjamin, thanks for coming on. This was a pleasure.

Benjamin: Thank you. 

Danny: And thanks to you, my dear listener, for tuning in, and I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I have. If you enjoyed the show, please consider subscribing and leaving a good review. Take care and see you soon.