Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted July 1, 2015
This weekend our country celebrates 239 years of independence, as well as our collective belief in equality and unalienable rights – enumerated in the Declaration of Independence as “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Heading into Independence Day 2015, it’s fitting to draw some connections between American energy and American life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today: life.
It’s hard to imagine modern life – in America or anywhere else for that matter – without liberal access to energy. It’s fundamental to sustaining life as we know it, while also providing fundamental opportunity to people across the globe for whom life is a daily struggle. Let’s take a look at some charts from Max Roser’s Our World In Data project. First is global energy use, with energy use starting to grow slowly around the 1900 and then taking off after World War II.
Posted June 23, 2015
We spend a good deal of time trying to highlight the enormous potential of American energy – in terms of jobs, growth to our economy, greater energy security and more. It’s a big deal. The ongoing U.S. energy revolution is a game-changer – built on safe, responsible domestic oil and natural gas development.
Yet, there’s a caveat: Energy development hinges on energy policy. And as the 2016 election cycle nears, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of choosing policymakers who: (a) recognize the generational opportunities being afforded by American energy, and (b) understand the need for policy paths and regulatory approaches that will sustain and grow our country’s energy renaissance.
The major findings in a new Wood Mackenzie study show in clear terms the stakes for all Americans in choosing the right leadership for the country’s energy future. Wood Mackenzie analyzed and compared the impacts in seven major areas of a future characterized by pro-development policies and also one characterized by regulatory constraints.
Posted June 18, 2015
Here’s the first of a series of posts sparked by speeches and presentations at this week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) energy conference. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz set the tone for EIA’s event, noting that the U.S. faces a set of energy challenges, vulnerabilities and opportunities. At the heart of the discussion: America’s energy resurgence. Moniz:
“By almost any simple measure for sure, our energy security position has been enhanced a great deal over the last several years: No. 1 producer of oil and gas, oil imports in terms of a fraction of crude plus products back at 1952 levels. In fact, our production increasing so substantially in the last five years that it has become a critical factor in global pricing dynamics, challenging decades-old assumptions by OPEC, for example. We have mothballed LNG import facilities are being repurposed for exports, likely to begin next year, and, frankly, likely to see us in several years at least become one of the major LNG players on the global scene.”
Moniz credited the energy revolution for rejuvenating U.S. manufacturing, particularly among energy-intensive industries that are capitalizing on affordable natural gas for power and/or as a feedstock for a variety of products. America’s increased use of natural gas also has helped lead U.S. efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, he said.
In all of the above, the secretary certainly makes good point. Thanks to innovative, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. is the world’s energy-producing leader. America is stronger and its citizens are more prosperous because we’re producing more of the energy we use right here at home.
Posted June 17, 2015
Quick rewind to 2007, when Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): The U.S. faced energy challenges – declining domestic production leading to greater dependence on imports and ever-increasing consumer costs. The RFS was conceived as a way to spur production of advanced biofuels that would help on imports and costs.
Today the energy landscape has completely changed. Thanks to surging domestic production from shale and other tight-rock formations with advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States is No. 1 in the world in the production of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons. Our imports are falling, and consumers have enjoyed lower prices at the pump.
Yet, the RFS remains – with its mandates for increasing use of ethanol in the fuel supply, seemingly impervious to the changed energy landscape, even as increased domestic oil production has checked off RFS objectives one by one. Even EPA’s latest proposal for ethanol use, while acknowledging that the RFS has serious flaws, continues to try to manage the behavior of markets and consumers, ironically leaving both on the sidelines.
That was the message in a telephone briefing with reporters hosted by API President and CEO Jack Gerard. Joining the call were Wayne Allard of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Heather White of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rob Green of the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR).
Posted June 10, 2015
The video below was featured during last week’s Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) National Conference in Philadelphia, which highlighted the organization’s efforts to mentor at-risk youth. Take a look. “Darryl’s Story” is a compelling example of the positive effects of adult role-modeling – the good that can result when kids learn to dream big and then to work on their dreams. The energy connection: For Darryl, the journey took him to the oil and natural gas industry.
As an industry that’s creating opportunities that can be the realization of aspirations for fulfilling, well-paying careers, API is proud to partner with BBBS. The great news is that the oil and natural gas industry needs more Darryls, more young men and women who want to be geologists, engineers, chemists and the other specialties that comprise our modern workforce.
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 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 May 5, 2015
During months of public discussion of improving the safety of transporting crude oil by rail, we’ve stressed the need to let science and fact-based analysis guide development of a holistic strategy that would have the best chance of producing tangible safety benefits.
Unfortunately, new rules published last week by the Transportation Department – featuring requirements for sturdier tank cars and electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes – are a mixed bag that will do little to prevent derailments in the first place.
Instead of working to ensure the integrity of the tracks and to eliminate human error as much as possible, both of which would help prevent accidents from occurring, it seems federal officials at times opted for the optics of appearing to make progress. In the case of the ECP brakes, it’s a technology that experts say doesn’t significantly improve safety – which is the goal. To add to the 99.99 percent safety record in the transport of hazardous materials by rail, a more comprehensive approach that focuses more attention on prevention is needed.
Posted April 23, 2015
Posted March 25, 2015
Amid the continuing public discussion over improving the safety of crude oil delivered by rail, it’s important that everyone – the energy industry, railroads, regulators, policymakers – stay focused on the facts and the science. This is key to making meaningful improvements to freight rail transportation – which already delivers 99.998 percent of materials like crude oil without incident. We say meaningful improvements because, as with everything we do, the oil and natural gas industry’s safety goal is zero incidents.
First, the science. A new Energy Department report found no data showing correlation between crude oil properties and the likelihood or severity of a fire caused by a train derailment. Also from the report:
No single parameter defines the degree of flammability of a fuel; rather, multiple parameters are relevant. While a fuel with a lower flashpoint, wider range of flammability limits, lower auto-ignition temperature, lower minimum ignition energy, and higher maximum burning velocity is generally considered more flammable, the energy generated from an accident has the potential to greatly exceed the flammability impact of these and any other crude oil property based criteria.
That last point highlights the importance of preventing derailments in the first place because, according to the department’s report, the kinetic energy created by a derailment can play a bigger role in the size of a fire than the commodity the train is hauling.