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Sean Hackbarth Dolphin in water.Photographer: Don Rulo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Before you can develop offshore oil and natural gas you have to know where it is. The available data for the Atlantic coast is over 30 years old. With seismic surveying, a more accurate picture can be developed of what energy lies below the ocean floor.

Video of Offshore Seismic Surveying


However, groups like Oceana and Greenpeace would have you believe that Flipper, Willy, Shamu’s cousins, and other marine life will be doomed.

This is scaremongering. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) summarizes the science and gives us a different, more accurate picture [emphasis mine]:

To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air guns used in geological and geophysical (G&G) seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities. This technology has been used for more than 30 years around the world. It is still used in U.S. waters off of the Gulf of Mexico with no known detrimental impact to marine animal populations or to commercial fishing.

If surveyors comply with BOEM requirements, “seismic surveys should not cause any deaths or injuries to the hearing of marine mammal or sea turtles.”

Groups that oppose searching for offshore oil and natural gas oppose offshore energy development period. Arguing against seismic surveying is just one of the many tactics they use to stop America from tapping into its offshore energy abundance and creating thousands of jobs.  These groups don’t want oil rigs in the Atlantic, and will say anything to stop it—even if it means ignoring science.

The fact of the matter is that there’s no evidence that seismic surveying will harm marine life. Flipper will be fine.

API’s Mark Green has more on the BOEM memo at Energy Tomorrow.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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Sean Hackbarth Logo of The Boom newspaper in Texas.The Boom is a newspaper targeting oil workers on Texas' Eagle Ford Shale.


Oil isn’t the only black gold being produced out of Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale. In a time when the rise of digital distribution seems unstoppable, The Texas Tribune noticed that ink on paper is seeing a rebirth:

With headlines like “Concealed Handgun License 101,” “How to Take Care of Your Leather Cowboy Boots” and “Seven Gifts Not to Get Your Special Lady,” The Boom, Rudkin Productions’ year-old newspaper, is aimed at typically male — and typically bored — oilfield workers, who can grab the tabloid in restaurants, gas stations and other businesses throughout the Eagle Ford region. More importantly for the agency, the newspaper, with a circulation above 12,000 and distributed every other month, has drawn steady interest from advertisers hoping to gain a foothold in an emerging market.

“We had so many of our clients come to us asking, ‘How can we advertise down in Eagle Ford Shale?’” said Kathy Rudkin, chief executive of the agency. “How can we get to the actual employees and managers who are working in the field?”

“People beg us to buy ads,” said Jaime Powell, editor of two magazines that also target this audience, Texas Eagle Ford Shale Magazine and the lifestyle-focused The Play.

What’s gotten the attention of publishers is the income growth in the region from shale energy development. Incomes there have risen significantly, according to Mark Mills at the Manhattan Institute:

In the 23 counties atop the Eagle Ford shale, average wages for all citizens have grown by 14.6 percent annually since 2005, compared with the 6.8 and 6.3 percent average for Texas and the U.S., respectively, over the same period. The top five counties in the Eagle Ford shale have experienced an average 63 percent annual rate of wage growth.

That makes it an enticing market for advertisers.

This illustrates how shale development supports jobs of all kinds, from writers putting together a Texas tabloid to pizza delivery people earning $50,000 a year. By 2025, it’s estimated that shale energy development will support 3.9 million jobs.

Because energy development has been an economic bright spot, we need policies that embrace, not hinder shale development.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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Sean Hackbarth Percent Change in Quarterly Real GDP by State. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In June, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released 2013 state GDP data and found that energy

was a large contributor in five of the fastest growing states: North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado. In North Dakota, the fastest growing state in 2013, mining contributed 3.61 percentage points to the state's 9.7% growth in real GDP.

BEA has begun releasing quarterly state-level GDP numbers, like it does with the U.S. economy. With this more granular data, the Wall Street Journal reports that several energy-rich states saw above-average economic growth at the end of 2013:

GDP in North Dakota and Wyoming expanded at an 8.4% pace in the fourth quarter. West Virginia’s GDP grew at a 7.5% pace in the final three months of 2013 and Louisiana’s economy expanded at a 5.4% pace.

Developing shale through the use of hydraulic fracturing is taking place in all four of the states mentioned. 

If policymakers embrace America’s energy abundance, we will continue to enjoy these economic benefits. A 2012 report by IHS for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy concluded, “By 2035, unconventional oil and gas will add almost $475 billion dollars to the economies of the lower 48 US states.”

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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Sean Hackbarth Power lines covered in snow and ice.

Prepare to bundle up this winter. The Associated Press reports:

Winter’s going to be colder than usual and next summer hotter. So says the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts.

Published Wednesday, the New Hampshire-based almanac predicts a “super-cold” winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The west will remain a little bit warmer than normal.

“Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” Editor Janice Stillman said. “Think of it as a refriger-nation.”

More bad news for those who can’t stand snow: Most of the Northeast is expected to get more snowfall than normal, though it will be below normal in New England.

Other weather prognosticators see something similar:

Joe Bastardi, chief meteorologist at WeatherBELL Analytics, told the Wall Street Journal Live that current weather patterns are “flowing along right now into the type of El Niño situation that is notorious for giving the United States cold, snowy winters, especially in the southern and eastern part of the United States, relative to the averages.”

Temperatures last winter set new record lows for huge swaths of the U.S. The stretch from December 2013 to February 2014 was the “34th coldest such period for the contiguous 48 states as a whole since modern records began in 1895,” reports the Weather Channel.

AccuWeather thinks the polar vortex might hit the Northeast this fall.

January’s polar vortex pushed the electrical grid in the Northeast to the limit. Thankfully, coal-fired power plants were available to meet increased demand. However, with EPA’s assaults on coal, we might not be as lucky in the future. Earlier this year, American Electric Power’s CEO, Nicholas Akins told shareholders on a conference call that 89% of his company’s coal-fired plants scheduled to be shut down in 2015—many because of EPA regulations--were providing needed electricity during the polar vortex.

At Hot Air, New York State resident Jazz Shaw, worries that EPA regulations will reduce electrical grid reliability:

Having the power go out in the summer when you’re trying to run the air conditioning is bad enough. Losing heating when the temperatures head below zero for weeks on end is a recipe for disaster.

In a Senate floor speech, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked, “The question we should be asking is, what happens when that capacity is gone? Hoping for a mild winter isn’t a viable strategy.” And while there’s interesting work going in improving battery technology, we’re not at the point where they can support the electrical grid on a large scale. The need for energy diversity and coal-fired power plants is as apparent as ever.

Policies like EPA’s proposed carbon regulations that remove coal from the energy mix make the electrical grid more vulnerable to extreme weather and create needless uncertainty for families and businesses.

That is why Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Phillip Moeller has called on EPA to host a public forum reviewing reliability challenges associated with its carbon regulations:

Just as the Commission does not have expertise in regulating air emissions, I would not expect the EPA to have expertise on the intricacies of electric markets and the reliability implications of transforming the electric generation sector. Hence I reiterate my call for a forum to publicly discuss the extent of reliability challenges under the proposal and potential solutions to these challenges.

I hope for the sake of keeping the lights and heat on this winter, EPA heeds this call for cooperation.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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Sean Hackbarth Oil pumping jack in Fort Lupton, Colorado.Oil pumping jack in Fort Lupton, Colorado. Photographer: Jamie Schwaberow/Bloomberg.


Because of the shale boom, Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute jokingly calls the United States, “Saudi America.” But when you look at the chart he made, the nickname makes sense:

 January 1994 to April 2014Total petroleum production: Saudi Arabia versus United States: January 1994 to April 2014

Perry writes:

For the 18th month in a row starting in November 2012, “Saudi America” took the top spot again in April as the No. 1 petroleum producer in the world. Also, for the 18th straight month, total petroleum production (crude oil and other petroleum products like natural gas plant liquids, leased condensate, and refined petroleum products) in the US during the month of April at 13.63 million barrels per day (bpd) exceeded petroleum production in No. 2 Saudi Arabia (11.61 million bpd).

Expect this trend to continue. Fuel Fix reports, “U.S. shale fields are expected to produce 4.87 million daily barrels in September, up from 4.77 million daily barrels this month.”

Increased production from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has meant less imported oil and has spurred job creation and economic growth in North Dakota, Texas, and elsewhere. Shale oil and natural gas development could support 3.9 million jobs by 2025, according to a U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy report.

In this sluggish economy, energy development has been a bright spot and has to be part of the solution. We need policies that take advantage of our energy abundance. 

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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