Energy Tomorrow Blog
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.
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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.
Posted January 13, 2015
As the Keystone XL pipeline debate in Congress continues, working Americans are pushing back against those – including President Obama – who dismiss as “temporary” the jobs the project would support.
North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) published an open letter to members of Congress that asks a simple question: “When did our careers and livelihoods become fodder for disdain and ridicule?”
Great question, because disparaging the more than 42,000 jobs Keystone XL would support during its construction – according to the U.S. State Department – has become a standard line of attack from Keystone XL opponents, from the president on down.
The union ad makes clear that those who work in the construction trades have had it with politicians who are double-tongued about the need to put Americans back to work and the need for infrastructure investment – while brushing off the way Keystone XL could help with both.
Posted January 10, 2015
Throughout the Keystone XL pipeline’s long wait for federal approval, President Obama has used one excuse after another to deflect responsibility for blocking a project that polls in the 70s with the American people, one that would support thousands of U.S. jobs and help move the country closer to North American energy security. All along the way the president could have exercised his authority to say yes to all of the above but deferred instead.
The president said environmental questions needed answers, and they were provided by his own State Department, which cleared Keystone XL in five separate environmental reviews.
The president said the cross-border approval process – required because Keystone XL would cross the U.S.-Canadian border – needed to run its course. It did and then some, stretching now to more than six years when historically, cross-border approvals are granted in 18 to 24 months.
The president said Nebraska needed to work out the pipeline’s route through that state, which it did. Then the president said the state’s Supreme Court would have to settle a legal challenge over the re-routing process.
On Friday, Nebraska’s high court rejected that challenge, confirming the assessment of the state Department of Environmental Quality and the governor’s recommendation to the State Department – leaving the project with only one remaining obstacle: President Obama.
Posted January 8, 2015
With legislation to advance the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline moving ahead in the Senate, potentially attracting a misguided veto from President Obama, some important numbers:
76 – The number of months Keystone XL has been blocked by the Obama administration. Historically, approvals for cross-border pipeline projects take 18 to 24 months. Keystone XL’s history is something quite different – the story of how a shovel-ready infrastructure project was needlessly hijacked by politics.
830,000 – The number of barrels of North American oil per day that would flow through Keystone XL to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, the vast majority of which would be turned into valuable fuel products.
42,100 – The number of U.S. jobs that would be supported during Keystone XL’s construction. That’s not industry’s number. That’s the number coming from President Obama’s own State Department. When he and others dismiss the project’s jobs impact, it reveals a serious lack of understanding of the way large infrastructure construction creates a positive ripple across the economy in terms of direct jobs, indirect jobs and induced jobs – all of which the White House fully appreciated when it was making the case for its federal stimulus package in 2009.
5 – The number of Keystone XL environmental reviews conducted by President Obama’s own Department of State.
5 – The number of State Department environmental reviews that have concluded Keystone XL would have no significant climate impact.
2 – The number of Pinocchios just awarded by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker to claims that Keystone XL will negatively impact the environment and that it would only be only a conduit for oil to be shipped overseas. (This follows the Three Pinocchios given to President Obama last fall for saying oil transported by Keystone XL would go “everywhere else” but the U.S. Bottom line, that’s a lot of Pinocchios.)
Posted January 7, 2015
The White House’s newly issued Statement of Administration Policy, announcing that President Obama would veto current, bipartisan congressional legislation to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline does a couple of things.
First, it announces that the new era of cooperation between the president and the new Congress on issues that have consensus support – supposedly the mandate from voters in last fall’s elections – might be over before it starts.
Second, and no less serious, it shows that President Obama doesn’t listen – doesn’t listen to the American people, who broadly support the multi-billion-dollar, privately financed infrastructure that the president’s own State Department says would support more than 42,000 U.S. jobs during construction, generate $2 billion in workers’ earnings and add $3.4 billion to the economy.
Wrangling inside the Beltway isn’t new; Americans are used to that. But a president who stubbornly dismisses broad public opinion, as Mr. Obama is doing on Keystone XL, is concerning on a different level.