Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 21, 2015
The third in a series of posts on the intersection of energy development and policy and the pursuit of climate goals. Last week: The Clean Power Plan’s flawed approach in the energy sector and the role of increased natural gas use in improving air quality. Today: The impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard and federal ethanol policy.
A decade ago Congress passed legislation creating the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – requiring escalating volumes of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply – that was intended in part to help reduce crude oil imports while capitalizing the supposed environmental advantages of ethanol.
Crude oil imports indeed have been falling since 2008. But, as we’ve detailed before, virtually all of the decrease is due to rising domestic crude oil production, not the RFS. Thanks to vast domestic shale reserves and safe hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas – which by far has had the most to do with reducing U.S. net crude imports.
Posted September 18, 2015
Below is the second in a series of posts on the intersection of energy development and the pursuit of climate goals. Yesterday, API President CEO weighed in on the administration’s Clean Power Plan and its flawed approach of picking winners and losers in the energy sector. Today – rising natural gas use plays a key role in falling emissions of carbon dioxide – even as levels of methane and ozone decline.
Talk of climate change and climate-related goals is everywhere. We pay special attention when the climate talk turns to energy development – because there’s a great climate story stemming from America’s energy revolution.
Let’s start with emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The U.S. Energy Information Administration tells us that monthly power sector CO2 emissions in April were the lowest for any month since April 1988. That’s a 27-year low.
Posted September 17, 2015
Below is the first of a short series of posts on the intersection of energy development and efforts to meet climate-change goals. In this post, API President and CEO Jack Gerard comments on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and its flawed approach of picking winners and losers in the energy sector.
On Monday, Aug. 3, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced sweeping new carbon regulations for power plants. By Wednesday, Aug. 5, the government announced carbon emissions from power plants in April 2015 reached a 27-year low.
Did the costly, top-down mandates of the Clean Power Plan really work that quickly? Of course not. The dramatic emissions reductions are the result of market forces that have nothing to do with heavy-handed government regulations and everything to do with the fact that the United States is the world’s leading producer of natural gas.
Posted August 28, 2015
When President Obama arrives in Alaska on Monday, he is expected to spend much of his time talking about climate. From a White House explainer on the president’s visit:
… President Obama will travel to Alaska and shine a spotlight on what Alaskans in particular have come to know: Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans’ lives right now.
What the president should hear is that the people of Alaska, one of the most energy resource-rich states in the Union, embrace both energy development and climate and environmental goals. They’ve lived that embrace and depend on it. They’re wary of Washington disrupting the relationship. While the Obama administration has approved Shell’s exploratory drilling in the waters off the state’s northern coast, it also has moved to exclude energy development in other state areas.
Posted June 10, 2015
BloombergBusiness – The U.S. has taken Russia’s crown as the biggest oil and natural-gas producer in a demonstration of the seismic shifts in the world energy landscape emanating from America’s shale fields.
U.S. oil production (green line in chart, left) rose to a record last year, gaining 1.6 million barrels a day, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy released on Wednesday. Gas output also climbed, putting America ahead of Russia as a producer of the hydrocarbons combined.
The data showing the U.S.’s emergence as the top driller confirms a trend that’s helped the world’s largest economy reduce imports, caused a slump in global energy prices and shifted the country’s foreign policy priorities.
“We are truly witnessing a changing of the guard of global energy suppliers,” BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale said in a presentation. “The implications of the shale revolution for the U.S. are profound.”
Posted May 28, 2015
Time: As the battle wages on in Congress over President Barack Obama’s signature trade agreements and the needed fast-track trade promotion authority (TPA), the president would be wise to consider alternatives that would enhance his trade legacy and also further our strategic priorities overseas. While energy is not included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations, many of the same Asian, European, and Latin American partners are calling for greater partnership with the United States on energy issues. By allowing the U.S. to become a stable source of supply to global energy markets, counteracting supply disruptions that will inevitably affect other energy-rich regions, President Obama and Congress can double down on promoting long-term economic growth and reinforcing U.S. foreign policy leadership.
The U.S. can do more with its energy resources to support this strategic vision. A direct way of leveraging this opportunity is to lift the ban on the export of crude oil and accelerate approvals for the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). A series of policies and laws in the 1970s banned exports of U.S. crude oil with only limited exceptions. This ban is a relic from an age of energy scarcity and should be adjusted to reflect present realities. By working with Congress, and via executive order, the president can start taking steps today to boost U.S. exports.
Posted March 20, 2015
More unhelpful talk from the administration directed at America’s energy industry – strange, given the key role played by the oil and natural gas industry in the nation’s recovery from recession, in reducing oil imports, in making the U.S. more secure in the world and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, all on the current administration’s watch.
It’s not that some in the administration haven’t noticed these positives. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at CSIS this week:
“… it’s no coincidence that our economic recovery has been accompanied by the biggest energy transformation of our lifetimes. The energy revolution we experienced in these last six years helped spur the recovery, but it’s also been accelerated by the policies our country put in place. Since 2008, American oil production has surged, from 5 million to 9 million barrels a day. And our dependence on foreign oil has fallen to its lowest level in more than 30 years. … These shifts in U.S. energy markets aren’t marginal or temporary. They are tectonic shifts …”
... Yet, in a recent interview President Obama talked about energy companies and climate change in adversarial, unproductive tones – echoing other administration messaging lately that borrows from the activist community. Like that messaging, these recent remarks are divorced from reality.
Posted January 15, 2015
Posted August 9, 2013
IHS CERA’s new environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline and pipeline-related oil sands development sends a pretty clear message to President Obama as he decides whether to approve the full project’s construction: There’s not a climate rationale for rejecting the pipeline – and along with it, tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, economic uplift and greater energy security.
While the IHS report no doubt will have little effect on pipeline opponents – less than 15 percent of Americans in this recent survey – it should get the attention of the president, who has said the Keystone XL should be built only if it would serve the national interest and not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
Posted January 20, 2012
Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, writes:
"But what’s abundantly clear is that there are no silver bullets when it comes to this challenge. And the idea, as some in Washington have tried to suggest, that building a pipeline is the ultimate answer to the question of American energy security and job creation is nothing more than a pipe dream. The truth is that just two of the Administration’s programs – the DOE Loan Guarantee Program and the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – will create more than 10 times the amount of jobs generated by the Keystone XL pipeline, which will only generate a few thousand temporary jobs."