Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted March 27, 2015
Add the heft of Rice University’s respected Center for Energy Studies to the weight of scholarly analysis urging an end to America’s four-decades-old ban on domestic crude oil exports. In a new study, the center lays out a case for U.S. crude oil exports that builds on the findings of IHS, ICF, Brookings, the Aspen Institute/MAPI and others – saying that lifting the ban would result in significant economic and foreign policy benefits to the U.S.
The study explains that the export ban already is presenting a “binding constraint” on the domestic market, leading to “discounted” pricing for lighter crudes produced by America’s energy revolution. It also notes that large volumes of lighter domestic crudes, in excess of what the U.S. refining sector can use, with no access to other markets, are discounted compared to global crude prices.
Posted March 26, 2015
A welcome development in the larger effort to see the U.S. become a major player in the global energy marketplace: groundbreaking ceremonies this week at Maryland’s Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.
Gov. Larry Hogan joined other golden shovel-wielding dignitaries at Cove Point, built as an LNG import terminal but which is undergoing a $3.8 billion expansion to allow LNG export capability.
Cove Point and other proposed LNG export terminals are the key needed infrastructure for the world’s leading producer of natural gas to get its LNG to market.
Posted March 20, 2015
Bloomberg: Two former Obama administration officials said a four-decade-old ban on oil exports limits U.S. geopolitical influence and makes it harder to get other nations to embrace free trade.
The issue of the ban “arose constantly” in negotiations with other countries, including when the U.S. sought support for sanctions on Iran’s oil production to halt its nuclear ambitions, said Carlos Pascual, a former top energy envoy at the U.S. State Department.
“It’s those kinds of restrictions that in the end affect American credibility, and in the moment when we have to put through an important policy, makes it much more difficult to negotiate,” Pascual said at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday called to build support for ending the ban in place since the 1970s Arab oil embargo.
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.