Energy Tomorrow Blog
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Atlantic lease sale in 2021 as part of the five-year program, which Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said could be withdrawn as the leasing plan process evolves.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.
Posted January 29, 2015
Offshore energy is getting lots of attention this week, which is good. Offshore energy is vital to America’s economy and energy security.
This week the Interior Department proposed the first draft of its next five-year program for offshore oil and natural gas leasing, in the 2017-2020 timeframe. While the draft plan doesn’t go far enough, it could include the first Atlantic lease sale in decades, and that would be a positive step. Meanwhile, on Thursday the federal government is scheduled to hold a lease sale for offshore wind in the Atlantic.
All of the above …
That’s more than a rhetorical flourish. America will need energy from all available sources in the future – thus the case for a genuine all-of-the-above strategy. We hope this week’s wind sale is successful.
Energy isn’t a zero-sum game, and neither is energy job creation. Offshore energy development of any kind can generate jobs and raise significant revenue for government. The country benefits and so do individual Americans – you know, folks holding the middle-class jobs everyone wants to support.
Posted January 28, 2015
A new video captures quite well the game of political football involving the Keystone XL pipeline, a game of overtime that’s making Americans wait for jobs, economic benefits and greater energy security. Some might call it deflating.
Points underscored by the video: The White House is responsible for delaying a shovel-ready infrastructure project that would support more than 42,000 jobs during construction, according to the U.S. State Department. Keystone XL would put $2 billion in workers’ pockets and add $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP – again, according to the State Department. Keystone XL has cleared five separate environmental reviews – with the conclusion that the project wouldn’t significantly affect the environment, climate or otherwise. The project would strengthen America’s energy security, bringing oil from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to the Gulf Coast for processing by U.S. refineries.
oil and natural gas development safe operations leasing plan offshore drilling economic benefits atlantic ocs gulf of mexico alaska pacific outer continental shelf ocs interior department boem federal leases
Posted January 28, 2015
Three maps, two views of America’s offshore energy wealth.
One reflects vast offshore oil and natural gas resource potential – nearly 50 billion barrels of oil and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. We say potential because these areas represent the 87 percent of America’s federal offshore acreage that has been closed to exploration and development, dwarfing the areas where development is allowed.
Nonetheless, what’s visible is the profile of an offshore energy giant, an offshore superpower. This is energy muscle waiting to be flexed. These are resources that could benefit Americans in terms of energy security, as more oil and natural gas is safely and responsibly produced right here at home, as well as job creation and economic stimulus.
That’s what energy superpowers do. They develop their resources to increase their security in a world where secure energy is fundamental to overall security. They develop their resources to fuel economic growth and to help ensure the prosperity of their citizens.
Posted January 23, 2015
Earlier this month, then-White House advisor John Podesta said the Obama administration is unlikely to do more on the U.S. crude oil export ban beyond the Commerce Department’s recent effort to clarify the rules for exporting ultra-light crude known as condensates. Podesta told Reuters:
“At this stage, I think that what the Commerce Department did in December sort of resolves the debate. We felt comfortable with where they went. If you look at what's going on in the market and actions that the Department took, I think that ... there's not a lot of pressure to do more.”
It’s a strange conclusion given the weight of scholarship that says America’s 1970s ban on crude exports should be lifted – to spur domestic production, create jobs and put downward pressure on U.S. gasoline prices. It also would solve a growing mismatch between supplies of light sweet domestic crude and a refinery sector that’s largely configured to handle heavier crudes. ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance, speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
“(The condensates decision is) a help. … I question whether we’ll ever grow to a million barrels a day of condensate production, so it helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t answer the issue that we’re going to have coming at us as a nation … crude that our refineries cannot refine. So it’s a help, but by no stretch does it solve the problem. We have to address the bigger issue.”
Posted January 22, 2015
Small business owner Laura Ross in Washington, Pa., has a stake in safe energy development and environmental stewardship.
In the new television ad below, Ross talks about how her café and other businesses in town have seen an economic boost because of nearby energy development. But she’s also mindful of the environment, because her business carries items produced by local farms. The fact that hydraulic fracturing has been done safely for more than 65 years is reassuring to her and her patrons.
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 16, 2015
Bloomberg: Ending restrictions on U.S. crude exports could cut gasoline prices as much as 12 cents a gallon, a Columbia University study co-written by a former adviser to President Barack Obama has concluded.
Without the partial ban, domestic production might increase as much as 1.2 million barrels a day by 2025, making the U.S. more resilient to global supply disruptions, according to the study.
“Easing energy export restrictions does not raise gasoline prices for consumers,” Jason Bordoff, a former energy and climate adviser to Obama who is now director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said in a telephone interview.