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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]

Sean Hackbarth A natural gas drilling rig in Bradford County, PA.A natural gas drilling rig in Bradford County, PA. Photo credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

Last week, I linked to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago that found that 45,000 construction jobs were created by the natural gas boom in the Marcellus Shale region of the Northeast. The report states [emphasis mine]:

From 2008 to the first half of 2014, over 72 million hours of direct and indirect construction labor has been worked on natural gas and oil projects related to the Marcellus Shale. These hours translate to 36,321 actual construction workers (based on a standard 2,000 hours of work) and engaged in oil and gas work that would not have occurred “but for” natural gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale geological footprint. 

On a call with reporters on the release of the study, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, AFL-CIO Sean McGarvey explained that the timing of the shale boom in the region couldn’t have been better for construction workers in the region:

At a time when the U.S. construction industry was in the midst of what was arguably a depression, … one of the few, if not only, bright spots, were the jobs that were created by virtue of domestic oil and gas development.

Here’s a chart from the study that illustrates how critical natural gas development has been for employing construction workers since the Great Recession hit. Shale energy construction employment increased as the non-shale energy construction employment decreased. 

Marcellus Shale gas construction employment unaffected by recession.Marcellus Shale gas construction employment unaffected by recession.

Other union leaders have praised the Marcellus Shale as a job-creator. Earlier this year, Laborers' International Union (LIUNA) mid-Atlantic regional manager Dennis Martire, called shale “a lifesaver and a lifeline for a lot of working families.” LIUNA members logged 400,000 hours on energy-related jobs in 2008, but that increased to 5.7 million hours in 2012.

From drilling rigs to pipelines and other energy infrastructure, record-levels of natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale is fueling construction job growth. Barring federal regulators needlessly piling duplicative regulations on hydraulic fracturing, the region should continue seeing job growth.

Sean Hackbarth  Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.An oil pump near Williston, North Dakota. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.

North Dakota oil production continues setting records. In August, its portion of the Bakken formation produced its one billionth barrel of oil.

The state averaged over one million barrels of oil daily for the fifth straight month. In addition, Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute points out, 500,000,000 barrels of oil have been produced in just the last two years.

Accumulated oil production from the Bakken area of North Dakota.Accumulated oil production from the Bakken area of North Dakota.

Perry also notes that drillers continue to improve using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Daily production per well has more than doubled from 52 barrels in 2009 to 101 barrels in August.

This growth in oil production has helped the United States become the world’s top petroleum producer, lead to a dramatic drop in oil imports, and allowed us to seriously consider lifting the oil export ban.

For North Dakota, the shale boom has meant a 2.8% unemployment rate and stories of people making $50,000 delivering pizzas. If you want a job in North Dakota, you can find a job. North Dakota’s success illustrates the economic benefits of shale energy. Shale oil and natural gas development could support 3.9 million jobs by 2025, according to an Institute for 21st Century Energy study.

If federal regulators refrain from imposing duplicative regulations and fix the permitting process to open federal land to development, we can expect continued growth.

Sean Hackbarth The U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.The U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy.

One year after a federal judge told the Obama administration that it couldn’t ignore federal law by shutting down development of a permanent nuclear waste facility in Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released a report finding that the site would be safe:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Thursday’s report after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit directed the agency to resume the evaluation last year.

The NRC said after reviewing information from the Energy Department that it found the site “design meets the requirements that apply after the repository is permanently closed.”

That means the proposed site can safely store the nation’s nuclear waste for one million years — the federal threshold — once it’s closed.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praised the report:

Knowing that the Yucca Mountain site is a safe, worthwhile investment as a permanent repository for the country’s spent nuclear material is welcome, if long-overdue, news, and I call on the NRC to resume its license review process and for Congress to provide the NRC with the funds needed to complete its review.

In 2002, Congress approved Yucca Mountain as a disposal site and $9.5 billion was spent to develop it. However, as the Institute for 21st Century Energy’s Matt Letourneau wrote, “The administration effectively cancelled the Yucca Mountain repository and has failed to provide any alternative to on-site storage" for America's nuclear reactors. At the same time, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has blocked any efforts to fund the program from passing the Senate.

Federal policy is to build a facility to safely store nuclear waste. (And for over 30 years, many electricity users paid fees to fund the facility.) As the NRC report states, Yucca Mountain can accomplish this. It’s time for the Obama administration and Senator Reid to follow the law, restart the program, provide the funding needed to license and build the facility, and solve this decades-old problem once and for all.

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