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Energy Blog

Sean Hackbarth

Coal has been a key factor for expanding electricity access to hundreds of millions of people, a new report finds. Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment, calculates that from 1990-2010, 832 million people gained access to electricity because of coal.

He writes that this trend isn’t about to slow down:

Between 2013 and 2040, the EIA expects global coal-fired capacity to expand by about 500 gigawatts, from about 1,800 gigawatts to about 2,300 gigawatts.

“Coal, which now accounts for about 40 percent of all global electricity production, will likely maintain its dominant role for decades to come,” he adds.

Here are four examples of developing countries that will continue to rely on coal as their economies grow.

China

By 2040, the EIA expects China to add another 400 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity to its generation sector. Put in perspective, the U.S. currently has about 300 megawatts of coal-fired-generation capacity. Thus, over the next 25 years, China is projected to add a new fleet of coal-fired generators that will be larger than America’s entire existing coal-fired capacity.

India

India’s coal use is expected to more than double by 2035. And within the next six years or so, India will likely surpass China as the world’s largest coal importer….  the EIA projects that India’s coal-fired capacity will increase by about 100 gigawatts by 2040.

Pakistan

The country is planning to build 15 new coal-fired power plants, with a total capacity of about 15 gigawatts. In January, the country’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, kicked off construction on a new 3.9-gigawatt complex of lignite-fired generators that are expected to come online in 2017.

Indonesia

Indonesia’s electricity use is expected to more than double by 2022; to meet that demand, the country is building more coal-fired power plants. One planned but still-delayed project is a $4 billion, 2-gigawatt plant slated for construction in Batang, in central Java…. In April, the Indonesian government announced plans to build a new 2- gigawatt, coal-fired power plant in Jakarta, the capital. And in mid-July 2014, the state-owned electricity firm, PT PLN, announced that it was planning to build additional coal-fired power plants, with a total capacity of 2 gigawatts, to help meet the expected growth in electricity demand.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy can claim that other nations will follow the United States’ lead and limit their carbon emissions. But the fact is, with the progress underway we shouldn’t expect developing nations to walk away from these gains. This makes EPA’s proposed carbon regulations pointless. “Given soaring global coal use, banning new coal-fired power plants in the U.S. will not make a significant dent in global carbon-dioxide emissions,” Bryce writes.

Instead, Bryce recommends that research go into developing and promoting technology to burn coal more efficiently.

Sean Hackbarth Oil pump jack in North Dakota.An oil pump jack just outside of Watford City, North Dakota. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg.

In the Washington Post, Energy guru Daniel Yergin writes on the effects of lower oil prices:

But, as things are now, the gains from lower prices outweigh the losses to the economy. The drop from $112 per barrel last June to $80 a barrel now means that Americans would save more than a $160 billion on gasoline and other crude oil products each year.  That adds up to some significant extra money that ends up in the pockets of American motorists. And that is money that they will spend all across the U.S. economy.

World-leading production also means more American jobs. According to a Institute for 21stCentury Energy report, by 2025 shale energy will support 3.9 million jobs.

 January 1994 to June 2014Total petroleum production: Saudi Arabia versus United States: January 1994 to June 2014Source: Mark Perry.

Thank the shale boom for putting us in this situation.

Abram Olmstead Image of a crane holding text of "6 Massive Projects"

American free enterprise can achieve almost anything. But, only if we allow it to work properly (this requires a nimble regulatory environment and a streamlined permitting process). One stark example of this gone wrong is the increasingly evergreen example of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that is projected to create 42,000 new jobs and generate $3.4 billion in economic activity. So far, we've waited 6 years for a response on the permit request.

Studies have been conducted. Talking heads and scientists have hashed out all the pros and cons. And despite broad affirmation and support, the American people are stuck waiting for Washington to act. Six years is a disgrace; bigger things can be done in far less time. Here are just a few great examples:

6 Massive Projects Completed Faster than the Keystone Pipeline's 6 Year Permitting Process from U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Sean Hackbarth Not one dollar more

EPA’s proposed carbon regulations aren’t winning a popularity contest.

A poll for the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, a coalition that includes the U.S. Chamber, found that almost half said they aren’t willing to spend even one dollar more to pay for EPA’s radical restructuring of America’s electricity grid.

Almost half said they aren’t willing to spend even one penny to pay for EPA’s proposed carbon reductions.Almost half said they aren’t willing to spend even one penny to pay for EPA’s proposed carbon reductions.

Almost half of those surveyed (49%) believe that proposed carbon regulations will result in higher energy costs.

Almost half (49%) believe that EPA's proposed carbon regulations will result in higher energy costs.Almost half (49%) believe that EPA's proposed carbon regulations will result in higher energy costs.

More than half (54%) do not think the United States can afford those higher energy costs and job losses that will come with them.

More than half (54%) do not think the United States can afford higher energy costs and job losses that will come with EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.More than half (54%) do not think the United States can afford higher energy costs and job losses that will come with EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.

While the administration pays lip service to it, a vast majority of the public—71%--supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and coal--the chief target of the proposed carbon regulations.

71% supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and coal.71% supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and coal.

70% oppose carbon regulations if they increase energy costs but don’t make a difference globally.

70% oppose EPA's proposed carbon regulations if they increase energy costs but don’t alter global carbon levels.70% oppose EPA's proposed carbon regulations if they increase energy costs but don’t alter global carbon levels.

As for the proposed carbon regulations themselves, the poll found that more people oppose (47%) than support (44%) them. What’s more, nearly one-third strongly oppose them, while only one-fifth strongly support them.

More people oppose (47%) than support (44%) EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.More people oppose (47%) than support (44%) EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.

Karen Harbert, President and CEO of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy commented on the poll’s findings:

EPA’s push to implement one of the most complicated and costliest rules in history is creating real concerns across the country that should not be ignored.

This poll affirms what we’re hearing from states, businesses and families that will be forced to comply.   EPA should heed these concerns and abandon their current approach, which will bring negative consequences for our entire economy with very little environment benefit in return.

Sean Hackbarth Green gas pump handle.Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that lifting the oil export ban will mean lower fuel prices for families, truck drivers, airlines, and other fuel consumers:

[A]llowing crude oil exports would increase world supplies of crude oil, which is expected to reduce international prices and, subsequently, lower consumer fuel prices.

The GAO finds that consumer fuel prices—like gasoline—are determined on world markets:

A decrease in consumer fuel prices could occur because they tend to follow international crude oil prices rather than domestic crude oil prices, according to the studies and most of the stakeholders. If domestic crude oil exports caused international crude oil prices to decrease, consumer fuel prices could decrease as well.

Adam Sieminsk, administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, came to a similar conclusion when he told Platts Energy Week TV, “Preliminary evidence suggests that gasoline prices get set in the global markets."

In addition, GAO finds that lifting the ban will help the economy:

Removing export restrictions is expected to increase the size of the economy, with implications for employment, investment, public revenue, and trade. For example, removing restrictions is expected to contribute to further declines in net crude oil imports, reducing the U.S. trade deficit.

Other studies that have come out recently also show that ending the oil export ban will be an economic plus:

An Aspen Institute study found that lifting the ban would put “modest” downward pressure on gasoline prices. An IHS study found that opening export markets to U.S. crude will mean $746 billion in new investment, additional 1.2 million barrels per day of oil would be produced annually, and 394,000 additional jobs per year from 2016-2030.

[H/t The Hill]

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