Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted June 4, 2015
After five years and millions of taxpayer dollars, EPA says what we in industry and others have said for some time: Safe hydraulic fracturing doesn’t threaten our drinking water. The salient quote from EPA’s draft report about fracking and associated operational components:
“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”
EPA’s findings discredit scaremongering used by fracking opponents and should help focus attention where industry is and has been focused – on continuous improvements in operational skill, guided by a set of rigorous best practices, and on technological advances.
EPA’s findings also effectively endorse the strong environmental stewardship that is being exercised by state regulators, who have been busy while EPA studied.
Posted June 4, 2015
A big event in Denver this week, highlighting the career opportunities for women in the oil and natural gas industry. “Women in Power” was attended by about 150 of Denver’s most influential female leaders and launched a larger Colorado initiative designed to help attract women to the industry and to retain them for life-long careers.
The Denver event was keynoted by Democratic strategist Celinda Lake and Republican strategist Linda DiVall, co-authors of a study released earlier this year that found the chief factor in increasing female representation in the oil and natural gas industry workforce is making them aware of the benefits of industry employment – including pay and security benefits and the chance for career advancement.
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 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 29, 2015
With EPA already embarrassingly late in setting requirements for ethanol in the fuel supply for 2014 (due 18 months ago) and 2015 (due six months ago), the agency finally has proposals for those years and 2016 that would continue to drive ethanol use – though not at levels dictated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Top EPA official Janet McCabe called the proposals “ambitious, but responsible.” We’ll agree on the ambitious part – in that it takes a whole lot of something to thread the needle between marketplace realities and the flawed RFS – difficult for the nimblest of bureaucracies, much less a regulatory colossus like EPA.
Unfortunately, EPA comes up short, particularly for 2016. An RFS program that long ago went awry remains lost in the tall weeds of process over substance.
Posted May 28, 2015
If implemented, the stricter ozone standards could be the costliest regulation ever, potentially reducing U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year and $3.4 trillion from 2017 to 2040, according to a study by NERA Economic Consulting for the National Association of Manufacturers. The U.S. could see 2.9 million fewer jobs or job equivalents per year on average through 2040.
Yeah, that’s big.
Certainly, for those kinds of impacts Americans would expect them to be justified. But EPA’s proposal is starkly lacking in terms of the science and public health.
Posted May 28, 2015
We often call the United States a global energy superpower, and it is – No. 1 in the world in the production of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
This is the result of an ongoing energy revolution, harnessing vast oil and natural gas reserves found in shale and other tight-rock formations, thanks to advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. America has the energy and the technologies, but also the robust industrial sector necessary to completely rewrite our country’s energy story.
Here’s another way to look at it: A number of individual U.S. states now rival the world’s major energy-producing countries. In other words, as separate countries those states would be world leaders in energy output.
Posted May 27, 2015
With national ozone levels falling, some activists argue for stricter federal standards the best way they can – by pointing to the relatively few areas in the United States where ozone levels remain above the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb).
Yet, think about that. If an urban area like Los Angeles or Houston currently is out of attainment with the standard set at 75 ppb, how will lowering the national standard to 65 or 60 ppb – which EPA is considering – make a difference in those and other non-compliant areas? Good question.
The fact remains that the current standards are working. EPA data shows ozone levels declined 18 percent between 2008 and 2013.
Posted May 26, 2015
Thinking about American energy, one underappreciated component is our national maritime system – connecting sources of oil with U.S. destinations and also exported domestic resources that help make the U.S. an energy superpower. National Maritime Day last week reminds us of the vital link this system provides in the energy supply chain.
Noteable: America’s marine highway system consists of more than 29,000 nautical miles of navigable waterways – the most extensive system in the world – infrastructure that’s vital to our economy, about 42 percent of all waterborne trade in the U.S. in 2012 was comprised of crude or petroleum products, reflecting the fact the U.S. imports about 10 million barrels of oil per day and more.
Posted May 21, 2015
Consumers have felt some of the fruits of America’s energy revolution, API Chief Economist John Felmy told reporters in a pre-Memorial Day conference call.
Felmy noted that drivers are paying about $1 less per gallon of gasoline on average nationwide than they did at this time a year ago, according to AAA. He said that thanks to advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. energy resurgence has offset production declines in other parts of the world, which has resulted in a more stable global market for crude oil – and relief at the gas pump. He added that the U.S. energy picture currently is characterized by strong domestic supply, moderate demand, increasingly efficient production and a refining sector that’s turning out record amounts of gasoline.
Felmy said the right energy choices by our country’s leaders can help continue the energy revolution.