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Energy Tomorrow Blog

The Science of Obfuscation

analysis  oil sands  ghg emissions  heavy crude  state department  canada  keystone xl pipeline 

Mark Green

Mark Green
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.

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Energy Abundance and Global Energy Leadership

oil and natural gas production  keystone xl pipeline  fuels  refineries  greenhouse gas emissions  ozone regulations  renewable fuel standard  cera 

Jack Gerard

Jack Gerard
Posted April 22, 2015

Today, the United States leads in petroleum products, refining and natural gas production, and we’re on track to lead in the production of crude oil; facts reinforced by last week’s EIA Annual Energy Outlook.

The report confirmed that our nation is more energy secure than ever before.  And it said in part that domestic production of natural gas is projected to grow through 2040 eventually reaching 35.45 tcf; and domestic oil production is projected to exceed 10 mbd in a few years and remain at that level through 2030.  Keeping pace with our nation’s increased development of our energy resources are the 139 operating refineries that produce more fuel than ever before and support roughly 540,000 good paying jobs and 1.9 percent of our nation’s economy.  

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Cont’d: The Falling Methane Emissions Story

natural gas development  methane  emission reductions  epa  greenhouse gas emissions  hydraulic fracturing  fracking  production  regulation 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 16, 2015

For months we’ve argued that new federal regulation targeting methane emissions from energy development is unnecessary and could undermine the success industry initiatives already are achieving. Howard Feldman, API’s senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs, from earlier this year:

“Methane is the product we bring to market. We sell methane – that is natural gas. That’s what we want to sell. … We don’t need regulation to tell us to do that because we are incentivized to do that. It’s not a byproduct or something. It is the product we’re selling. … We’re developing these technologies because we want to more and more capture natural gas.”

This is exactly what’s happening, as new data from EPA shows.

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Fueled by Oil and Natural Gas – Now and in the Future

oil and natural gas development  access  eia forecast  imports  economic growth  shale energy  hydraulic fracturing  horizontal drilling  emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 14, 2015

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new Annual Energy Outlook for 2015 contains a number of stats, charts and projections, but you could boil them down to a couple of important points.

First, oil and natural gas are and will continue to be the foundation of an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s key to continued U.S. economic growth, energy security and overall security. EIA says oil (36 percent) and natural gas (27 percent) supply 63 percent of America’s energy now, and EIA projects they will supply 62 percent in 2040 (oil 33 percent and natural gas 29 percent). This is because oil and natural gas are high in energy content, portable and reliable. They’re the workhorse fuels of the broader economy, making modern living possible as fuels and as the building blocks for a number of products Americans depend on every day. America is and will be dependent on a variety of energies, but oil and natural gas are and will play leading roles.

The great news is the U.S. is in the midst of a revolution in domestic oil and natural gas production, leading to a second big takeaway from EIA’s report – that domestic output is and will continue to reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy.

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21st-Century Energy

oil and natural gas development  energy future  emissions  economic benefits  Jack Gerard 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 13, 2015

The language of issue activism can have drawbacks. Sound bites charged with political activism seldom set the stage for useful policy discussions.

The White House recently earned four “Pinocchios” from the Washington Post’s FactChecker for mirroring the anti-Keystone XL talk heard from those who want the U.S. to stop using oil.

Similarly, in a climate change speech at the Atlantic Council this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mischaracterized America’s energy reality, calling U.S. oil and coal “outdated energy sources.” Said Kerry, “Coal and oil are only cheap ways to power a nation in the very near term.”

Not according to those who get paid to quantify U.S. energy, now and in the future. In its 2014 Annual Energy Outlook report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that oil and natural gas supplied 63 percent of U.S. energy in 2012, with coal supplying another 18 percent. EIA projects that oil and natural gas will supply 61 percent of our energy in 2040, with coal holding steady at 18 percent.

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Coming Clean: The President and ‘Dirty’ Keystone XL Oil

keystone xl pipeline  canadian oil sands  crude oil  greenhouse gas emissions  president obama 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 9, 2015

Apparently not content with the four Pinocchios he recently earned from the Washington Post for statements on the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama last week put in a bid for five with remarks aimed at the project’s environmental impact.

At an appearance in South Carolina, the president termed “extraordinarily dirty” the methods used to develop Canadian oil sands:

“The reason that a lot of environmentalists are concerned about it is the way that you get the oil out in Canada is an extraordinarily dirty way of extracting oil, and obviously there are always risks in piping a lot of oil through Nebraska farmland and other parts of the country.”

First, after more than six years of review by his administration, the president really should take the time to read the U.S. State Department’s environmental review of Keystone XL  – the latest of five that all have cleared the pipeline on environmental grounds. As well, energy consulting firm IHS found that Keystone XL and the oil sands it would deliver would have “no material impact” on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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The Food, Environmental Dilemmas of the RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  environmental impact  ethanol  greenhouse gas emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 7, 2015

The politics of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use are on display this weekend in Iowa, a key presidential primary state. Nothing against Iowa – or ethanol, for that matter – but the RFS illustrates that when you mix energy policy and politics bad public policy can result.

Certainly, the RFS shows the difficulty of trying to apply central planning to the marketplace, of trying to mandate consumer behavior. The RFS is a relic of the era of energy scarcity in the U.S. whose best intentions have been superseded by surging domestic oil and natural gas production.

Still, the RFS remains and along with it potential risks to the economy, vehicle engines and more. It also risks unintended consequences, including a moral/ethical dilemma over whether food should be turned into fuels, as well as concern for the environmental impact of corn ethanol production.

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American Oil, American Jobs

keystone xl pipeline  american energy  Economy  jobs  Energy Security  canadian oil sands  emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 27, 2015

President Obama, in an interview with a North Dakota television station, explaining why he continues to delay the Keystone XL pipeline:

“Part of the reason North Dakota has done so well is because we've very much been promoting domestic U.S. energy use. I've already said I'm happy to look at increasing pipeline production for U.S. oil. But Keystone is for Canadian oil. Sending it down to the Gulf. It bypasses the U.S., it estimated to create 250, maybe, 300 permanent jobs. We should be focusing on American infrastructure for American jobs for American producers, and that's something we very much support.”

In the span of just six sentences, the president contradicts expert analysis of Keystone XL’s jobs and market impacts at least four times – about once for each breath.

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Good Energy Policy Key to Energy, Economic Growth

american energy  policy  growth  methane emissions  keystone xl pipeline  taxes  fracking 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted February 13, 2015

EIA Today in Energy: The United States, Canada, China, and Argentina are currently the only four countries in the world that are producing commercial volumes of either natural gas from shale formations (shale gas) or crude oil from tight formations (tight oil). The United States is by far the dominant producer of both shale gas and tight oil. Canada is the only other country to produce both shale gas and tight oil. China produces some small volumes of shale gas, while Argentina produces some small volumes of tight oil. While hydraulic fracturing techniques have been used to produce natural gas and tight oil in Australia and Russia, the volumes produced did not come from low-permeability shale formations.

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More Good News on Methane Emissions – Again

methane emissions  natural gas production  hydraulic fracturing  regulation  epa 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 10, 2015

Standout findings in a new major field study on methane emissions from natural gas collection and processing facilities across 13 states, led by Colorado State University include a couple of points:

First, of 130 facilities that collect natural gas from production wells, remove impurities and deliver it to inter- and intrastate pipeline networks,  101 had methane loss rates below 1 percent – including 85 of the 114 gathering facilities and all 16 of the processing plants studied. Put another way, methane containment at these facilities is more than 99 percent.

Second, the majority of emissions resulted from abnormalities involving broken or faulty equipment – issues that are relatively easy to address.

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