Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted July 10, 2015
Here’s one takeaway from IHS’ new research report on Canadian oil sands: Thank goodness for Canada and its oil sands.
Along with our own domestic energy renaissance, oil sands imports from our northern neighbor and ally are growing America’s energy security. Oil sands crude is critically important now and will be into the future, IHS says – which is why we here in the United States should be ever so grateful for our energy partnership with Canada and attentive to ways that relationship can be strengthened.
Yes, that’s a reference to the long-languishing Keystone XL pipeline. If we’re serious about oil sands development – and IHS’ report strongly suggests Americans should be – then we should quit politicking to death the single biggest infrastructure project at hand that would facilitate oil sands transportation to the U.S.
Posted July 6, 2015
Another sign of the times on the Keystone XL pipeline: South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is weighing pipeline builder TransCanada’s request for a reissued construction permit because the company’s original permit died of old age – victimized by the White House’s failure to decide on Keystone XL despite nearly seven years of review.
That’s right. TransCanada’s first construction permit for the 314 miles of the pipeline that would cross South Dakota expired last summer. You could say the cause of death was neglect – neglect by the White House, with its Keystone XL review approaching the seven-year mark this fall.
So, TransCanada seeks a reissued permit. The PUC is scheduled to hold a public input session Monday night, followed by evidentiary hearings July 27 and Aug. 4.
A couple of points. The first is to underscore again the absurd and unfair way the White House has kept Keystone XL in suspended animation, causing a state construction permit that’s good for four years to lapse. The second is to point out that the economic and energy merits of building Keystone XL – for South Dakota and the U.S. – remain unchanged, basically unchallenged by pipeline opponents.
Posted July 6, 2015
USA Today (editorial) – Fracking — the practice of cracking open underground oil and gas formations with water, sand and chemicals — has rescued U.S. energy production from a dangerous decline. Any debate about banning it should take a hard look at what that would cost the nation and at facts that aren't always part of the discussion.
Those facts are spelled out in a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking and groundwater. One of the harshest charges against fracking, often leveled with apocalyptic intensity by its foes, is that it indiscriminately contaminates vital drinking water supplies.
The EPA's timely report essentially said that's overblown.
Posted June 24, 2015
A few observations on an Energy Department-funded study that reportedly asserts Canadian oil sands will yield significantly greater emissions than conventional crude oil. We say “reportedly,” because the study itself isn’t out yet, just the abstract. Even so, the Wall Street Journal breathlessly says the “findings provide ammunition to foes of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and other critics of surging Canadian oil output.”
Now, take a deep breath.
We’ve posted on this claim before. President Obama brought it up a couple months ago to justify more than six years of delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by the White House. Certainly, assigning alarming greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to oil sands boosts an anti-KXL, anti-oil sands position. But it’s a faulty comparison.
Posted June 5, 2015
OK, so EPA says safe hydraulic fracturing isn’t a threat to the nation’s drinking water. That’s great news for America’s energy revolution, which is being driven by advanced fracking and horizontal drilling. Without them there’s no revolution and certainly fewer jobs and less economic opportunity. Thanks, EPA, for following the science and recognizing – as industry has for some time, producing specific best practices for fracking – that the focus should be on continually improving safe operations and advancing technologies. These will help ensure our energy revolution goes forward.
Now, let’s talk about another country’s energy revolution – one that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the U.S. beyond the unfortunate, protracted debate over the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada’s own energy revolution is at the heart of the U.S.-Canadian relationship and is so integral to U.S. security. The vitality of Canadian energy is something more Americans should care about, as it bears directly and indirectly on our lives in a number of ways.
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 May 13, 2015
Some observations on a new University of Texas energy poll and its findings on the Keystone XL pipeline:
First, among Americans who have some familiarity with Keystone XL, 45 percent support the pipeline’s construction while 21 percent oppose. (Twenty-one percent said they neither support nor oppose Keystone XL and 13 percent said they didn’t know.)
The more than 2-1 margin of Americans who favor Keystone XL over those who don’t in the poll underscores a couple of things: People who’ve learned about the pipeline, its purposes and its benefits in terms of jobs and economic growth overwhelmingly support it – and they must be baffled that it hasn’t been built yet. It also underscores how unfortunate it is for the country that Keystone XL’s merits have been denied by purely political, inside-Washington reasons.
Second, among those in the poll who oppose Keystone XL, climate change isn’t the top reason they oppose it – no doubt a kick in the pants to those who’ve spent lots of time and money arguing that building the oil pipeline would doom the climate and the planet.
They have themselves to blame. The main reasons to oppose Keystone XL, cited by the 21 percent in the poll – potential impacts on the environment and water, the presence of hazardous chemicals and benefits accruing to Canada instead of U.S. consumers – reflect the “whack-a-mole” strategy opposition leaders used, moving from flawed claim to flawed claim as quickly as facts, science and sound analysis dispelled them.
To further the discussion, let’s look again at the facts surrounding the top concerns of the 21 percent. Maybe that number will come down in the next UT poll.
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 6, 2015
BloombergBusiness: The U.S. will become one of the world’s largest oil exporters if domestic production continues to surge and policy makers lift a four-decade ban that keeps most crude from leaving the country, a government-sponsored study shows.
America would be capable of sending as much as 2.4 million barrels a day overseas in 2025 if federal policy makers were to eliminate restrictions on most crude exports, an analysis by Turner, Mason & Co. for the Energy Information Administration shows. That would make the U.S. the fourth-largest oil exporter, behind Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, based on 2013 EIA data. The report assumes domestic output rises by 7.2 million barrels a day from 2013.
The analysis is part of a series of studies the U.S. government is performing following a 71 percent surge in domestic oil production over the last four years. Drillers including Harold Hamm of Continental Resources Inc. and John Hess of Hess Corp. have been calling on the government to lift the ban on crude exports as they pump more light oil out of shale formations from North Dakota to Texas.
Posted May 4, 2015
USA Today: The U.S. economy may not be benefiting as much as anticipated from the collapse in oil prices over the past 10 months. In fact, for oil-producing states, the decline of some 50% is taking a toll.
But one thing seems clear: The nation as a whole is nowhere near as susceptible to sharp swings in oil prices — one way or the other — as it was for decades.
That was the message from Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and President Obama's chief economist, at a New York forum held by the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy.
Furman spoke one day before the U.S. government reported an annual growth rate of just 0.2% for the nation's gross domestic production from January through March, down substantially from a 2.2% pace in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Among the factors was consumer spending, which rose by only 1.9% in the first quarter compared with a 4.4% increase in the previous quarter.
Consumers proved slow to spend their savings from lower gasoline prices, savings that economists estimate at $700 per household, as Furman pointed out. But that reluctance may change soon, to the benefit of the nation's economy, he added.