Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 2, 2020
TC Energy’s announcement that it will proceed with building the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is a big deal in terms of vital energy for America, jobs, economic growth and North American security. The 1,210-mile pipeline – able to safely deliver 830,000 barrels per day from Canada’s oil sands region in Alberta to the U.S. heartland – figures to be a significant, long-awaited progress toward helping secure this country’s future energy needs.
I say “long-awaited” because my first API writing assignment was about the KXL – nearly nine years ago!
Over that time the pipeline became a political football – a debate in which the basic facts were mostly incontestable: thousands of good jobs during KXL’s construction, tens of millions of dollars in property and income tax revenues to different levels of government and no significant effect on the climate or environment, according to the U.S. State Department, which conducted six comprehensive scientific reviews.
Posted July 1, 2016
Happy Canada Day! Here in the U.S., if you’re not already celebrating with our friends to the North, think about starting. Canada is much more than a good neighbor.
OK, seriously, we celebrate with the Canadians because Canada is vital in terms of trade and energy security.
Posted November 6, 2015
With President Obama’s unfortunate decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, look for a number of reports and analyses advancing the notion that the president’s decision is a “stunning defeat” for our industry, Canada and members of Congress who support the project. We disagree.
Canadian oil sands development that Keystone XL would have helped facilitate will continue. As an IHS study detailed earlier this year, oil sands production is critically important to North American supply and U.S. security, and it will go on – as will efforts to get Keystone XL off the drawing board, built and operating – creating jobs and increasing energy security.
The real defeat in the president’s decision has been inflicted on the American people. It’s their present and future that have been dealt a severe blow by a White House that ultimately valued out-of-the-mainstream political interests over the national interest.
Posted July 10, 2015
Here’s one takeaway from IHS’ new research report on Canadian oil sands: Thank goodness for Canada and its oil sands.
Along with our own domestic energy renaissance, oil sands imports from our northern neighbor and ally are growing America’s energy security. Oil sands crude is critically important now and will be into the future, IHS says – which is why we here in the United States should be ever so grateful for our energy partnership with Canada and attentive to ways that relationship can be strengthened.
Yes, that’s a reference to the long-languishing Keystone XL pipeline. If we’re serious about oil sands development – and IHS’ report strongly suggests Americans should be – then we should quit politicking to death the single biggest infrastructure project at hand that would facilitate oil sands transportation to the U.S.
Posted June 5, 2015
OK, so EPA says safe hydraulic fracturing isn’t a threat to the nation’s drinking water. That’s great news for America’s energy revolution, which is being driven by advanced fracking and horizontal drilling. Without them there’s no revolution and certainly fewer jobs and less economic opportunity. Thanks, EPA, for following the science and recognizing – as industry has for some time, producing specific best practices for fracking – that the focus should be on continually improving safe operations and advancing technologies. These will help ensure our energy revolution goes forward.
Now, let’s talk about another country’s energy revolution – one that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the U.S. beyond the unfortunate, protracted debate over the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada’s own energy revolution is at the heart of the U.S.-Canadian relationship and is so integral to U.S. security. The vitality of Canadian energy is something more Americans should care about, as it bears directly and indirectly on our lives in a number of ways.
Posted May 13, 2015
Some observations on a new University of Texas energy poll and its findings on the Keystone XL pipeline:
First, among Americans who have some familiarity with Keystone XL, 45 percent support the pipeline’s construction while 21 percent oppose. (Twenty-one percent said they neither support nor oppose Keystone XL and 13 percent said they didn’t know.)
The more than 2-1 margin of Americans who favor Keystone XL over those who don’t in the poll underscores a couple of things: People who’ve learned about the pipeline, its purposes and its benefits in terms of jobs and economic growth overwhelmingly support it – and they must be baffled that it hasn’t been built yet. It also underscores how unfortunate it is for the country that Keystone XL’s merits have been denied by purely political, inside-Washington reasons.
Second, among those in the poll who oppose Keystone XL, climate change isn’t the top reason they oppose it – no doubt a kick in the pants to those who’ve spent lots of time and money arguing that building the oil pipeline would doom the climate and the planet.
They have themselves to blame. The main reasons to oppose Keystone XL, cited by the 21 percent in the poll – potential impacts on the environment and water, the presence of hazardous chemicals and benefits accruing to Canada instead of U.S. consumers – reflect the “whack-a-mole” strategy opposition leaders used, moving from flawed claim to flawed claim as quickly as facts, science and sound analysis dispelled them.
To further the discussion, let’s look again at the facts surrounding the top concerns of the 21 percent. Maybe that number will come down in the next UT poll.
Posted May 11, 2015
Vice President Joe Biden underscored the administration’s call for infrastructure spending during a Bloomberg Government event that focused on the country’s deteriorating delivery and transportation systems.
Highlights include: The Washington politics of infrastructure spending is challenging. “The idea that there is a debate on the Hill on the need to invest in infrastructure is mind blowing,” Biden said. The world’s energy epicenter is North America, and the U.S. needs major investments in energy infrastructure. “We will face a national security dilemma” if we don’t enhance our energy infrastructure, he said. Companies need to have certainty that they can get their products to market efficiently.
Let’s pause a moment and consider these valid points on infrastructure from the vantage point of this administration’s crowning infrastructure decision (or non-decision): the Keystone XL pipeline.
In the Keystone XL, the administration has had the opportunity – for more than six years – to green light $5.4 billion in private infrastructure spending that would create jobs, boost the economy and transport oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region – reliably and safely – to our Gulf Coast refineries, enhancing America’s energy security. All with the simple stroke of the president’s pen.
Posted April 27, 2015
Wall Street Journal op-ed (John Hess): While one can debate the reasons for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision in November to continue flooding the oil markets, the fact is that this is squeezing many U.S. shale oil producers out of business. Oil prices have dropped by 50% in the past six months, and crude oil inventories in the U.S. have grown from 350 million barrels last year to more than 480 million barrels today.
Part of the reason inventory has ballooned is that crude produced in the U.S. is literally trapped here, because American firms are not allowed to sell it overseas. An antiquated rule bans crude oil exports from the lower 48 American states, even though producers could earn $5-$14 more per barrel by selling on the world market. At this moment the U.S. government is considering lifting sanctions on Iranian crude oil exports. Why not lift the self-imposed “sanctions” on U.S. crude exports that have been in place for the past four decades?
The export ban is a relic of a previous era, put in place around the time of the 1973 Arab oil embargo against the U.S., when Washington thought very differently about ensuring America’s energy needs. Other measures related to the 1973 embargo, such as price controls and rationing, were eliminated decades ago, as policy makers realized that they impeded, rather than aided, American energy security. But the ban on crude oil exports persists.
There is no defensible justification for the continued ban on the export of U.S. crude oil.
Posted March 10, 2015
A postscript to our post explaining that the crude oil the Keystone XL pipeline would deliver is comparable to other heavy crudes already being refined in the U.S.: Oil sands crude would replace other heavy oils – most significantly, crude currently imported from Venezuela.
The point is made in the U.S. State Department’s most recent (of five) environmental reviews of Keystone XL:
Gulf Coast refiners’ traditional sources of heavy crudes, particularly Mexico and Venezuela, are declining and are expected to continue to decline. This results in an outlook where the refiners have significant incentive to obtain heavy crude from the oil sands. Both the EIA’s 2013 AEO (Annual Energy Outlook) and the Hart Heavy Oil Outlook (Hart 2012b) indicate that this demand for heavy crude in the Gulf Coast refineries is likely to persist throughout their outlook periods (2040 and 2035 respectively).
Posted March 9, 2015
Apparently not content with the four Pinocchios he recently earned from the Washington Post for statements on the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama last week put in a bid for five with remarks aimed at the project’s environmental impact.
At an appearance in South Carolina, the president termed “extraordinarily dirty” the methods used to develop Canadian oil sands:
“The reason that a lot of environmentalists are concerned about it is the way that you get the oil out in Canada is an extraordinarily dirty way of extracting oil, and obviously there are always risks in piping a lot of oil through Nebraska farmland and other parts of the country.”
First, after more than six years of review by his administration, the president really should take the time to read the U.S. State Department’s environmental review of Keystone XL – the latest of five that all have cleared the pipeline on environmental grounds. As well, energy consulting firm IHS found that Keystone XL and the oil sands it would deliver would have “no material impact” on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.