Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted January 31, 2015
The long trail of “process” excuses for not approving the Keystone XL pipeline is coming to an end.
Five U.S. State Department reviews – all of them basically saying Keystone XL won’t significantly affect the environment – done.
Public hearings – done.
A new pipeline route through Nebraska – done.
By Monday, federal agencies must weigh in on whether Keystone XL is in the national interest. It is, as we’ll get into below.
The point is, after more than six years of process and review by the White House, we’ve come to the end of the processing and the reviewing. The administration stretched to 76 months a pipeline approval process that typically takes 18 to 24 months. It turned Keystone XL into a political football, punted here and there for reasons that clearly weren’t in the national interest.
Posted January 22, 2015
During his State of the Union speech President Obama talked about expanding trade and building up the middle class. Both good objectives. And, while a president’s annual message to Congress usually is full of goals that are mostly aspirational, both of these are attainable – through energy.
First, the president could work to end the ban on the export of domestic crude oil, a relic of the 1970s and an era of U.S. energy scarcity. A supply of light sweet crude, mismatched for a refinery sector largely configured to handle heavier crudes, would be able to reach overseas markets. This would help support domestic production and jobs – many of them well-paying middle-class jobs – while benefitting our trade balance.
Likewise, the administration could stop slow-walking approvals for planned U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities to export LNG to non-free trade agreement nations – again, spurring domestic production and jobs and improving America’s trade bottom line.
Both would increase the U.S. presence in global energy markets – expanding world supply, helping allies and strengthening American foreign policy – all consistent with our country’s status as an energy superpower.
Second and more specifically, the president could approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s needed energy infrastructure that would bring more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada and the U.S. Midwest, support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs – good middle-class jobs – and help strengthen the U.S. energy/trading relationship with Canada, our No. 1 source of imported oil.
Posted January 21, 2015
In a State of the Union address that mostly skimmed over energy issues – remarkable, given the generational opportunities stemming from America’s ongoing energy revolution – President Obama still underscored the yawning disconnect between his all-of-the-above energy rhetoric and his administration’s failure to put that rhetoric into action.
Talking about the need for infrastructure investment, the president said:
“Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan ... infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year and make this country stronger for decades to come. Let’s do it. Let’s get it done.”
We agree. America’s infrastructure needs are greater than a single oil pipeline – the political football known as the Keystone XL – which the president has been punting around for more than six years.
But there’s no good reason, no good excuse, for not making the Keystone XL pipeline Job No. 1 in a procession of infrastructure projects. President Obama hasn’t offered any beyond calling “temporary” the 42,100 jobs the U.S. State Department has said Keystone XL would support. Yet, those jobs are no more temporary than the ones that would be supported by building bridges, roads and other projects the president routinely cites.
That’s the disconnect between what President Obama peddles in speeches to Congress and around the country – and what his administration is doing.
Posted January 15, 2015
Facts and science over politics. That’s the way energy policy should be made. Too many policy matters in the energy space are being hijacked by politics. The Keystone XL pipeline is one example, as are some of the regulatory initiatives the administration is pushing right now. That’s not the way to craft good energy policy.
Keystone XL has been stuck on the drawing board more than six years because it was turned into a political football by the White House. Cross-border pipelines like Keystone XL historically have gained approval in 18 to 24 months. We’re at 76 months and counting for political reasons, not because of compelling scientific and economic analysis – as advanced in the five reviews conducted by the U.S. State Department.
Keystone XL finally has reached the debate stage in the Senate, but the White House is threatening to veto legislation that would advance the project. More politics, more delay, more missed opportunity for American workers and U.S. energy security.
Posted January 13, 2015
As the Keystone XL pipeline debate in Congress continues, working Americans are pushing back against those – including President Obama – who dismiss as “temporary” the jobs the project would support.
North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) published an open letter to members of Congress that asks a simple question: “When did our careers and livelihoods become fodder for disdain and ridicule?”
Great question, because disparaging the more than 42,000 jobs Keystone XL would support during its construction – according to the U.S. State Department – has become a standard line of attack from Keystone XL opponents, from the president on down.
The union ad makes clear that those who work in the construction trades have had it with politicians who are double-tongued about the need to put Americans back to work and the need for infrastructure investment – while brushing off the way Keystone XL could help with both.
Posted January 13, 2015
The federal approval process for cross-border pipelines (and there are many) historically has taken 18 to 24 months, yet the White House says that more than six years isn't enough time to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.
Perhaps the State Department can help them out with analysis that argues that infrastructure of this nature is in the national interest – a point grasped by a strong majority of Americans in the Keystone XL debate – which seems to elude the White House. Now, if the White House doesn’t want to listen to what its own State Department says about infrastructure, maybe another voice will be more persuasive.
Posted January 9, 2015
Posted December 11, 2014
Near the end of his appearance on the “Colbert Report” earlier this week, President Obama tells host Stephen Colbert that getting things done is the real satisfaction he takes from his job:
“I love the job, and it’s an incredible privilege. But when you’re in it you’re not thinking about it in terms of titles. You’re thinking about how do you deliver for the American people?”
Ironically, the remark about delivering for the American people comes just a few minutes after the president offers up familiar excuses for failing to deliver for the American people on the Keystone XL pipeline. With Americans backing the pipeline by more than 3 to 1, it looks like President Obama isn’t listening to the people he’s supposed to serve – or is simply ignoring them.
The president’s Keystone XL rhetoric remains starkly at odds with the facts – including those proffered by his own State Department. State has completed five separate environmental reviews on Keystone XL over more than six years, all of which cleared by the pipeline. Whether President Obama is talking to business executives or cutting up with Colbert, he’s startlingly disconnected with fact on Keystone XL.
Posted December 5, 2014
Speaking to business executives earlier this week, President Obama lamented how long it takes to make infrastructure improvements in the U.S.:
“The challenge for infrastructure has been that … it’s hard to pay for things if you don’t have some sort of revenue stream. And I’ve been exploring … to see how we can do more in attracting private investment into infrastructure construction – which is done fairly effectively in a lot of other countries …”
Later, he praised the Chinese for how quickly they tackle infrastructure needs:
“… the one thing I will say is that if they need to build some stuff, they can build it. And over time, that wears away our advantage competitively. It’s embarrassing – you drive down the roads, and you look at what they’re able to do.”
For more than six years one of the largest infrastructure projects to come along in some time has been staring back at President Obama, waiting for him to say “go”: the Keystone XL pipeline.
By now many Americans – who favor Keystone XL’s construction by more than a 3-to-1 margin – probably can tick off the points arguing for the project’s approval.
Posted December 2, 2014
U.S. News (Lamont Colucci): OPEC met on Nov. 27, and openly recognized that the United States' oil technological revolution – driven by enhanced oil recovery methods including hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking) and horizontal drilling – has undermined the cartel's economic and political power. This constitutes one of the major geopolitical and economic shifts of the 21st century in America’s favor. This meeting has been characterized as OPEC abandoning its role as a “swing producer” or simply the arbiter of oil supply and demand. Some are now suggesting that the new swing producer will be the United States.
Enhanced oil recovery technology was consistently denigrated as unworkable and unprofitable, and there will be many more articles restating this as the old wine in a new bottle. These technologies have made the U.S. the world's number one oil producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia. OPEC’s strategy of allowing the market to decide oil prices is designed to hurt American enhanced oil recovery activities, with the assumption that American producers need a higher profit margin per barrel than it does. This may be a horrible miscalculation on OPEC's part due to continual advances in technology and innovation.
According to a 2013 report, hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling have the potential to increase the global reserve of oil from 1.6 billion barrels to 10.2 billion barrels. Domestically, we are already witnessing the 21st century oil boom generate prosperity for states like Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. Current estimates indicate that by 2020 the United States will be the dominant worldwide producer of both natural gas and oil and achieve energy independence.
However, this energy issue has been dominated by the wrong people: economists, businessmen, engineers and environmentalists. They all have their required expertise, but all of this is really an issue of foreign policy and national security. There are four ways that this new situation can be welcomed by conservatives, liberals, realists and environmentalists.