Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 28, 2015
There’s a new report out this week that says energy infrastructure constraints have cost New England at least $7.5 billion over the past three winters – while cautioning that failing to expand natural gas and electricity infrastructure will cost the region’s households and businesses $5.4 billion in higher energy costs between 2016 and 2020.
Other key findings in the report by the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy show that without additional infrastructure, higher energy costs will lead to the loss of 52,000 private-sector jobs over the same time period. In all, a lack of infrastructure investment could mean 167,000 jobs lost or not created. The report also found that the region could see a reduction in household spending of $12.5 billion and $9 billion in foregone infrastructure construction.
Posted July 22, 2015
An informative event this week hosted by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, highlighting some potential real-world impacts of EPA’s proposal to tighten national ozone standards. Underscore “real-world impacts,” because the discussion centered on the potential havoc EPA’s proposal could unleash on transportation projects all over the country. “There’s going to be real people who’re going to be really upset,” said Karen A. Harbert, Institute president and CEO.
It’s important to see EPA’s ozone proposal in that light. The possible macro-economic harm that stricter ozone standards could bring – GDP reduction of $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, according to one study – have been discussed here and elsewhere. But individual Americans may or may not relate to them, they’re so large.
The institute discussion and its new report, “Grinding To a Halt – Examining the Impacts of New Ozone Regulations on Key Transportation Projects” – help bring potential problems with stricter ozone standards to Americans’ doorsteps. Or, more specifically, to their daily commutes – which could get tougher if all kinds of transportation projects are terminated or delayed because they’re proposed in areas that would be in nonattainment with the new ozone standards.
Posted July 20, 2015
Our series highlighting the economic and jobs impact of energy in each of the 50 states continues today with Maine. We started our focus on the state level with Virginia on June 29 and information covered in this series can be found online here, arranged on an interactive map of the United States. State-specific information across the country will be populated on this map as the series continues.
As we can see with Maine, the energy impacts of the states individually combine to form energy’s national economic and jobs picture: 9.8 million jobs supported and $1.2 trillion in value added.
Posted June 19, 2015
The issue was energy infrastructure – where the United States is and where things are headed. At the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual conference this week, one discussion honed in on the challenges to infrastructure approval and construction – as well as government’s best role in developing projects that are key to U.S. energy transport and overall energy security. The latter produced some friction between speakers not often seen at conferences like EIA’s. More below.
The U.S. Energy Department’s Melanie Kenderdine talked about some of the details in the department’s recently issued Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which focused on ways to modernize the nation’s infrastructure.
Posted June 9, 2015
With another hurricane season upon us, it’s timely to briefly review the ways the oil and natural gas industry is prepared for conditions that could impact industry operations, particularly in the Gulf Coast region and Gulf of Mexico – home to more than 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity and about 17 percent of the nation’s oil and 5 percent of its natural gas production.
While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting below-normal activity in the Atlantic region (which includes the Gulf), industry still takes a number precautions and has response plans in place in the event of a serious storm – wise, considering the potential impacts to facilities, regional and national economies and the environment.
You can read about this in detail in this hurricane fact sheet.
Posted June 3, 2015
The question posed to Dominion Energy President Diane Leopold was about “Keystonization” – referring to the tactical use of protests, process and procedural delays and legal challenges to block safe energy development and key infrastructure projects.
Leopold knows the terrain well. Despite a small but vocal group of opponents, Dominion Energy recently won federal approval to expand its Cove Point, Md., natural gas terminal to allow the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
At an event hosted by America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) last month, Leopold cautioned that delay of the Keystone XL pipeline for more than six years has generally helped embolden opponents of energy infrastructure (see here, here and here) – making it more important than ever for energy companies to effectively communicate their plans and the benefits of their projects while exceling in community engagement.
Posted June 3, 2015
The Hill: House Republicans have found reasons to agree with some parts of the Obama administration’s energy infrastructure proposal.
GOP leaders in the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that they are largely in agreement on the need to improve pipelines, electric transmission lines, energy storage and other pieces of infrastructure.
Moniz testified at the hearing to promote the Quadrennial Energy Review, which the administration released in April to call for comprehensive infrastructure improvements worth billions of dollars.
“Many people are even asking — not surprisingly — is there enough common ground between our efforts and the Obama administration to enact meaningful energy legislation,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the energy and power subcommittee, said at the Tuesday hearing.
Posted June 2, 2015
With EPA last week proposing ethanol-use requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the ethanol industry no doubt will keep lobbying to foist increasing amounts of higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 and E85 on the motoring public. This, despite studies that have shown E15 can harm engines and fuel systems in vehicles that weren’t designed to use it – potentially voiding manufacturers’ warranties – and historically small consumer demand for E85.
A subset of the argument for increased use of higher-ethanol blend fuels is the dismissing of concern that E15 also could damage existing service station infrastructure, including storage tanks, fuel lines and dispensers. Though service station owners and operators indicate otherwise, ethanol supporters say that a new National Renewable Energy Laborary (NREL) report – commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a big ethanol advocate – found that E15 is compatible with existing equipment. It’s simply not true, and the report has some challenges. Let’s look at a few.
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 26, 2015
Reuters: U.S. Republicans have had to watch from the sidelines as the Obama White House has taken political credit for America's unexpected energy boom and tumbling gas prices. Now it has left their presidential candidates scrambling for a way to reclaim leadership on an issue the party once seemed to own.
Their apparent answer: calling time on a 40-year-old federal ban on crude oil exports and using the newfound energy bounty to strategic advantage.
"We've got an abundance of supply," Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said this week in Oklahoma at a gathering of putative Republican candidates for next year's presidential election. Lifting the ban, he said, would allow exports to "our allies in Europe, where, instead of being dependent on (President) Vladimir Putin and the Russians, they could be dependent on Americans."