Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted March 20, 2015
The case for lifting the 1970s-era ban on U.S. crude oil exports, in a nutshell:
The ban is a relic of the past, of an era when the U.S. was producing less and less of its own oil and importing more and more of oil produced by others. Crude exports would add to global crude supplies, putting downward pressure on the cost of crude. A number of studies project that lifting the export ban would lower domestic gasoline prices. Exports would stimulate domestic production, protecting U.S. jobs and creating more in the future. Exports would strengthen U.S. economic power that underlies American global influence.
There are more reasons, more details to the affirmative export case, a number of which were aired at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this week. In its totality, it’s a strong, strong case.
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.
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this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mischaracterized America’s energy reality, calling U.S. oil and coal “outdated energy sources.”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.
Posted March 6, 2015
More on the plan by new Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to increase taxes on energy production in the commonwealth.
As lawmakers mull over Wolf’s proposal to add a 5 percent tax on the value of natural gas at the wellhead, plus 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of gas extracted – effectively a 7.5 percent tax, according to Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.’s George Stark – the key issue is its potential effect on future energy development in Pennsylvania.
Certainly, fundamental economics holds that if you tax something more, you’ll almost certainly get less of it. And that should give lawmakers pause.
Posted February 26, 2015
The president’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) understands the significance of the U.S. energy revolution quite well – reflected in the energy chapter of its recent 2015 Economic Report of the President.
The chapter should be widely read by policymakers, from the president and Congress on down, because it notes the role of surging domestic oil and natural gas production in the ongoing energy revolution. From there it’s possible to identify needed policies for the future.
Posted February 17, 2015
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is scheduled to hold a public hearing today in Wilmington, N.C., on its draft five-year offshore oil and natural gas leasing program. According to a study by Quest Offshore Resources, developing oil and natural gas on the North Carolina outer continental shelf could bring significant benefits.
These include 55,000 jobs in the state by 2035 and nearly $4 billion in revenues for the state’s budget by 2035, with revenue sharing in place.
Posted February 14, 2015
Some time ago the Keystone XL pipeline debate stopped being a discussion of energy infrastructure and whether the privately financed project was in the national interest. Thank Keystone XL’s opponents, who detached the debate from fact and scientific analysis to better serve their purposes.
Keystone XL’s most ardent foes readily acknowledged as much. They said that for them the pipeline was a symbol to be used in pursuit of political power. As one anti-pipeline activist put it: “The goal is as much about organizing young people around a thing. But you have to have a thing.”
Symbolism over substance, politics over the greater public good? Too often that’s the way it’s played Inside The Beltway. But at some point political power needs to give way to actual power, and public policy should be grounded in our energy reality, not symbolism. It should be fact-based and consider the impacts on the daily lives of real people, not narrow ideological agendas.
Posted February 12, 2015
In a democratic republic like ours, the legislative branch is the voice of the people. Throughout the long – too long – debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House has used politics to stymie a conclusion on the matter. But no more.
House approval of a Senate bill advancing the pipeline will require President Obama to finally decide. Bipartisan majorities in both houses of the Congress of the United States have spoken. The American people, through their elected representatives, have spoken. The president should listen.
Unfortunately, the White House has signaled that he won’t, that he will veto the Keystone XL bill. It would make a mockery of post-Election 2014 assurances from the president that he would work with Congress to accomplish substantive things for the American people. Substantive things like: 42,100 jobs that the U.S. State Department says would be supported by the pipeline’s construction, $2 billion in workers’ pockets and $3.4 billion added to U.S. GDP, according to State’s report, and 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region – North American oil that would strengthen U.S. energy security
All of the above and more clearly make the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the national interest.
Posted February 9, 2015
Let’s hope public hearings on the Obama administration’s draft offshore oil and natural gas leasing program – starting this week – help spark serious discussion of how the nation’s offshore energy reserves will be managed in the near future. Needed is greater public awareness of just how limited the administration’s approach is, reflected in a draft plan that simply doesn’t go far enough.
We say public awareness because the administration has been able to foster the perception that it favors more oil and natural gas development and energy infrastructure when, in fact, its policies have done little to support that development (did somebody mention the Keystone XL pipeline?).
In the case of offshore energy development, it’s important to move the administration toward a plan that actually increases access to reserves. The draft plan for offshore leasing for the 2017-2022 time period is less than meets the eye, offering just a single Atlantic lease sale in 2021 as part of the five-year program, which Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said could be withdrawn as the leasing plan process evolves. That’s not a balanced approach, that’s an attempt to manage the perceptions game.
Posted February 3, 2015
After more than six years of delaying, blocking, sidetracking and goalpost-shifting on the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House clearly knows something about political football – specifically, using all of the above to keep Keystone XL on the drawing board and out of the ground.
It’s not a game to the American workers who’ve seen coveted jobs delayed, nor is it fun for the entire country, in terms of blocked economic stimulus and sidetracked energy security.
Now EPA is tagging in with an out-of-left-field assessment of the State Department’s final environmental review. We say that because State’s environmental report was completed a year ago – making five reviews that all basically said Keystone XL would not significantly impact the environment, climate or otherwise.
While other involved federal agencies recently weighed in on the pipeline’s importance to U.S. national interests, EPA – at the 13th hour – says current crude oil prices make it important to “revisit” State’s environmental conclusions.
Unfortunately, for an administration that has practically made a badge of honor out of stiff-arming Keystone XL – in the face of bipartisan congressional support and the broad favor of the American people – EPA is simply providing another excuse for the White House to continue doing nothing.
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.