Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 7, 2020
Modern, resilient natural gas and oil infrastructure is vital to maintaining U.S. energy affordability and economic competitiveness. As the industry undergoes rapid digitalization, reliability remains fundamental to energy operations, particularly as cybersecurity risks present emerging challenges.
The U.S. has been subject to an increasing volume of malicious cyberattacks from China, Russia and other foreign adversaries, posing a persistent threat to our national security and grid reliability. Within the next two years, 2.5 billion industrial devices will be brought online in the energy industry, meaning the need to protect our critical infrastructure assets has never been more urgent.
Posted August 6, 2020
There are two new developments with the federal Nationwide Permit 12 program (NWP 12), which is critically important for key infrastructure projects of all kinds. Both point to the need for a clear, efficient, common-sense permitting program that balances environmental protection with streamlining projects that have limited environmental impacts.
Achieving this is occurring on two tracks. U.S. senators have introduced legislation that would cut red tape and in the short term help reestablish regulatory order and allow infrastructure projects to proceed if they’re following certain species protection rules already in the NWP 12. Meanwhile the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a proposal that includes renewing more than 50 Nationwide Permits for the next five years. This is important because the permits would expire in March 2022 otherwise.
Posted July 29, 2020
A metric that bears watching as we gauge energy markets, trade, manufacturing and supply chains – all of which contribute to global economic growth and prosperity – is FDI, foreign direct investment, especially for energy projects in the U.S. and other nations.
Recent data indicate that FDI has dropped by half since its peak in 2015, and experts believe that various factors, including the pandemic and escalated trade tensions, could continue or accelerate this decrease. This is potentially significant for the construction of new infrastructure, plants, processing facilities and other projects that have a direct bearing on better serving U.S. consumers and harnessing American energy.
Indeed, recent FDI trends signal a potential turning point.
Posted July 16, 2020
Improvements to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – the first modernization proposed in nearly half a century – should help clear red tape that can bog down critical infrastructure projects for years and in the process block job creation and affect environmental protection.
The administration’s priority on updating NEPA to streamline infrastructure projects was clear in that President Trump made the announcement. The Council on Environmental Quality estimates that due to NEPA red tape, the average review takes nearly six years, and the average cost to complete a review is $4.2 million.
Modernization of NEPA is long overdue. NEPA review is a chief reason that building infrastructure has become so challenging in this country. A long menu of infrastructure projects has been impacted by protracted NEPA review, not just natural gas and oil projects (see previous posts here and here). These include airports, traffic improvements, wind farms and more.
Posted July 14, 2020
U.S. energy infrastructure is at an inflection point, with a number of important natural gas and oil pipelines sidetracked by red tape and court decisions within the past few weeks. Most outrageously, the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline, which has been operating safely for three years, was ordered shut down and drained by a federal judge. More on Dakota Access below.
The inflection point is this: Will we build the safe, modern energy infrastructure that broadly serves the public interest, creates thousands of jobs and harnesses abundant domestic natural gas and oil, or will narrow, often extreme interests continue to block the public good?
Posted July 7, 2020
Building and expanding U.S. pipeline infrastructure in this country shouldn’t be so difficult – not considering the critical role pipeline construction and operation play in American energy leadership, job creation and economic growth.
Modern natural gas and oil pipelines are the safe connection between consumers and America’s abundant, reliable, cleaner energy. Additional infrastructure is needed so that no matter where people live, they can be better served – expanding the benefit of domestic energy abundance.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly challenging to get projects off the drawing board because of almost endless legal maneuvering and government red tape. Both contribute to delay and uncertainty that undermine project investment and completion.
Posted June 30, 2020
Good technical standards and industry practices are important to safe, sustainable energy infrastructure that is critical to unleashing the benefits of domestic energy – including clean, affordable natural gas.
Major energy players have pointed to new midstream infrastructure investments in the massive Permian region that will allow them to produce more while also improving environmental performance. In addition, this infrastructure will benefit consumers globally through the export of U.S. natural gas – produced right here at home under stringent regulations, many of which point to API’s world-class safety standards that improve environmental performance and sustainability.
Posted June 4, 2020
EPA has announced its final rule to modernize Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which will clarify the jurisdiction of states in issuing required water quality certifications. As discussed in this post, the changes will help the timely advance of needed infrastructure projects – which in some instances EPA believes have been delayed or blocked by states exceeding their Section 401 authority.EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the CWA review process has been abused in the past, holding key infrastructure “hostage.”
Posted May 28, 2020
When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks about building new railroad tunnels under the Hudson River, new subways and airports – as he did Wednesday after a White House meeting with President Trump – he hits the right infrastructure notes – urgency on critical public needs, forming partnerships, getting bureaucracies to move quicker and so on.
Unfortunately, the governor’s bullishness on infrastructure doesn’t extend to natural gas pipelines. Just the opposite. Cuomo and his administration seem to have blocked pipeline projects at every turn – underscoring the need for revisions to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). I’ll explain.
Posted May 18, 2020
America’s extensive network of pipelines and energy infrastructure safely connects our abundant natural gas and oil resources with refineries, businesses and consumers. The U.S. liquids pipeline system, which stretches more than 218,000 miles, delivered 21.8 billion barrels of crude oil and refined products in 2018 – the essential link between domestic energy and Americans’ daily lives.
The industry’s commitment to safety and sustainability, through industry-led reporting, standards-setting and performance initiatives, has contributed to ongoing improvements in pipeline operations. This month, API and our partner associations released two new reports that show declining pipeline-related incidents and continuous improvement in environmental performance – both enhanced by growing use of safety management systems.