Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 27, 2015
Wall Street Journal commentary (Engler and McGarvey): America’s business and labor leaders agree: President Obama and Congress can do more to modernize the permitting process for infrastructure projects—airports, factories, power plants and pipelines—which at the moment is burdensome, slow and inconsistent.
Gaining approval to build a new bridge or factory typically involves review by multiple federal agencies—such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Interior Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management—with overlapping jurisdictions and no real deadlines. Often, no single federal entity is responsible for managing the process. Even after a project is granted permits, lawsuits can hold things up for years—or, worse, halt a half-completed construction project.
Posted May 21, 2015
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Weinstein): Thanks to what’s sometimes called the “shale revolution,” America has re-emerged as an energy superpower.
Even with prices 40 percent lower than a year ago, we remain the world’s No. 1 producer of crude oil and other liquid hydrocarbons. Imports of oil have dropped from 60 percent of consumption to about 35 percent just in the past five years. We’re also the world’s largest producer of natural gas.
Both our oil and natural gas output would be even higher if not for regulatory and infrastructure constraints.
Posted April 29, 2015
Rigzone: For every $1 that public pension funds allocated to oil and gas assets in 2005, investors saw a return of 130 percent in 2013, about double their returns on other investments, according to a new study from the American Petroleum Institute and Sonecon LLC.
“The lesson, frankly, from this analysis is that pension plans would be in better shape if they increased the share they invest in oil and gas,” said Robert Shapiro, a co-author of the report, said during a conference call with reporters.
Shapiro found that the funds invested an average of 4 percent of their assets in oil and gas, which yielded 8 percent of the returns. The study reviewed the returns of the two largest funds — those owned by public school employees and state workers in every case — for each of 17 states, which included California, Florida, New Mexico and West Virginia for the eight-year period from 2005 to 2013.
“All of these pension plans have been under serious economic stress since 2008. Thirty-five states have enacted changes that will change benefits,” Shaipro said, adding that when the plans’ returns are higher, there is less pressure on them to reduce benefits.
Posted April 16, 2015
For months we’ve argued that new federal regulation targeting methane emissions from energy development is unnecessary and could undermine the success industry initiatives already are achieving. Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, from earlier this year:
“Methane is the product we bring to market. We sell methane – that is natural gas. That’s what we want to sell. … We don’t need regulation to tell us to do that because we are incentivized to do that. It’s not a byproduct or something. It is the product we’re selling. … We’re developing these technologies because we want to more and more capture natural gas.”
This is exactly what’s happening, as new data from EPA shows.
Posted March 24, 2015
Last week’s release of the federal Bureau of Land Management’s new hydraulic fracturing rule suggests it’s time to update an infographic we posted last summer on the administration’s regulatory march that could impede America’s energy revolution.
Unfortunately, the administration’s plans for energy regulation aren’t encouraging – not if you truly grasp the historic opportunity that surging domestic production of oil and natural gas is providing the United States.
We’re talking about the complete rewrite of America’s energy narrative, from one of scarcity – limiting America’s economic possibilities and overshadowing its national security concerns – to one of abundance in which the U.S. is more self-sufficient, more prosperous and more secure in the world.
We call that historic, revolutionary, a true renaissance in American energy.
Posted March 17, 2015
The job that could be lost could be yours, or the job that doesn’t materialize could be the one you had your heart set on. Both scenarios could result from lower federal standards on ground-level ozone, which EPA has proposed and is expected to finalize later this year.
A NERA Economic Consulting study lays out the big-picture impacts, that a stricter ozone regulation could reduce U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, resulting in 2.9 million fewer jobs or job equivalents per year on average through 2040.
Big numbers, but abstract. Embedded in them are potential real-world impacts for lots of Americans in terms of economic opportunity lost or denied, illustrated here on a state-by-state basis. These include businesses that might not be launched or expanded, infrastructure plans that could be shelved, such as roads and bridges. It could entail activities that communities might restrict as they try to comply with stricter ozone standards.
Posted February 25, 2015
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for increasing use of ethanol continue to be debated publicly – in Congress, where lawmakers could vote to repeal the dysfunctional program and in places like Chicago, where service stations could be forced to carry higher-ethanol blend E15 fuel.
The Fill Up On Facts website is a great resource on the RFS, ethanol mandates and related issues. Information is available on the RFS itself, as well as problems that have made the program and its ethanol mandates untenable – like the refining “blend wall,” potential risks to vehicle and equipment engines and impacts on food prices.
Posted February 10, 2015
Standout findings in a new major field study on methane emissions from natural gas collection and processing facilities across 13 states, led by Colorado State University include a couple of points:
First, of 130 facilities that collect natural gas from production wells, remove impurities and deliver it to inter- and intrastate pipeline networks, 101 had methane loss rates below 1 percent – including 85 of the 114 gathering facilities and all 16 of the processing plants studied. Put another way, methane containment at these facilities is more than 99 percent.
Second, the majority of emissions resulted from abnormalities involving broken or faulty equipment – issues that are relatively easy to address.
Posted February 6, 2015
EPA’s 13th-hour ambush of the Keystone XL pipeline and the project’s environmental reviews by the U.S. State Department looks like more of the political gamesmanship the Obama administration has used to keep the pipeline on hold for more than six years. But perhaps EPA overplayed its hand.
As we pointed out, EPA’s letter urging officials to “revisit” the State Department’s Keystone XL conclusions is awkwardly and perhaps suspiciously late. State has done five separate environmental reviews, with the last one completed more than a year ago. This week, while other involved federal agencies weighed in on the pipeline’s merits from a national-interest standpoint, EPA lobbied to revisit established science.
Second, the agency’s assertion that the current global price of oil affects the State Department’s environmental conclusion – that Keystone XL would have no significant impact – is oddly at odds with the agency’s position that the current global price of oil has no effect on EPA’s own policymaking decisions.
Third, EPA did some manipulating of what State said about Keystone XL’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions – its letter citing only the largest numbers in State’s range of possible effects. A reasonable conclusion is that there’s a whiff of politics, for strategic effect, in EPA’s doings.
Posted February 5, 2015
Two of the Environmental Protection Agency’s seven statements of purpose reference “best available scientific information” and “accurate information.” These also happen to be two things that many in Washington, D.C., feel that EPA is setting aside in the pursuit of political goals. Yesterday the agency released comments on the Keystone XL pipeline that gave plenty of credence to its critics.
It is somewhat of a shame, because EPA’s comments did make many good points. It acknowledged the comprehensiveness of the State Departments review of the project, the usefulness of mitigation measures the project will take to reduce environmental impact and the reduction of risks associated with spills and leaks from the pipeline. And then we begin to drift from accurate information into political calculation.