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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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Sean Hackbarth Electrical linesPhotographer: Kevin Dooley/Flickr. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


In the Wall Street Journal [subscription required], Edwin Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) calls EPA’s proposed carbon regulations, “a classic example of federal tunnel vision—focusing on a single goal with little heed for the costs and dangers.”

Those costs include a less-reliable electrical grid:

The EPA’s plan, according to its own estimates, will require closing coal-fired power plants over the next five years that generate between 41 and 49 gigawatts (49,000 megawatts) of electricity. That’s approximately enough capacity to power the state of Georgia at any given time. Unless that capacity is replaced, the nationwide equivalent of the Peach State would go dark.

The U.S. is already facing the loss of 60 gigawatts of power over the next three years, the result of older coal plants' being forced to shut down because they cannot comply with the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards enacted in 2012.

The U.S. cannot lose more than 100 gigawatts of power in five years without severely compromising the reliability and safety of the electrical grid. That would pose a danger for the entire economy and all Americans.

It also will cost jobs:

When gauged by accepted industry metrics, the agency's plans also would result in the loss of some 52,000 permanent direct jobs in utilities, mining and rail and at least another 100,000 jobs in related industries. High-skill, middle-class jobs would be lost, falling heavily in rural communities that have few comparable employment opportunities.

On many issues, labor unions and the business community are often on opposing sides. However, on EPA’s proposed carbon regulations, we’re united in opposition. If implemented, they’ll be a costly burden on workers, employers, and families.

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

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 Joshua Lott/Bloomberg.Rows of wind turbines rotate in a corn field near a farm in Blairsburg, Iowa. Photographer: Joshua Lott/Bloomberg.


This post originally appeared on FreeEnterprise.com.

Though it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “good government,” Iowa is, in fact, an example of a state that is supporting its economy by working with businesses to attract investment and create jobs.

Perhaps nowhere is this commitment to free enterprise more apparent than in the Des Moines metropolitan area. It takes about 20 minutes to make the drive from Des Moines to Altoona, which recently garnered a significant amount of media attention thanks to a technology giant’s announcement that it would expand its presence there.

Facebook, it turns out, had long mulled opening satellite buildings in Iowa, a state whose 4.4% unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average of 6.2%. Aside from its strong labor market, Iowa has also benefited from initiatives undertaken by its governor, Terry Branstad, who has championed a number of programs aimed at drawing strategic investment in the state. Last year, for example, Branstad headed to California, where he urged business leaders to boost their presence in Iowa, the Associated Press reported. 

For its part, Facebook representatives said the company’s decision to build a remote data center in Altoona was spurred by, among other factors, the state’s robust renewable energy sector.

With slightly more than 3 million residents, Iowa ranks only 30th among all states in terms of population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet the American Wind Energy Association pegs the state’s installed wind capacity at just under 5,200 megawatts—the third highest such level in the U.S. Iowa’s wind power industry, moreover, provides 27.4% of the state’s total electricity needs, placing the Hawkeye State ahead of all other states. 

Additionally, Facebook cited Iowa’s workforce as yet another motivating factor. “We’re excited to have found a new home in Iowa, which has an abundance of wind-generated power and is home to a great talent pool that will help build and operate the facility,” Jay Parikh, a vice president of infrastructure engineering at the social network, said in a statement.

The Menlo Park, California-based tech giant also teamed with a local utility to develop and build its own wind turbine system capable of supplying electricity to the Altoona data center, explained Vincent Van Son, a Facebook data center energy manager. “When we settled on Altoona as the location for our fourth data center, one of the deciding factors was the opportunity to help develop a new wind project in the state,” Van Son wrote in a message.

“The project brings additional investment and jobs to the region, and in effect it makes it possible, on an annualized basis, for 100% of our energy needs to be met entirely with one of Iowa’s most abundant renewable resources,” he added.

Nonetheless, Iowa has done more to attract investment than simply cultivate its wind energy sector. According to the Iowa Workforce Development, lawmakers have also approved a spate of enticing incentives and tax breaks for companies that hire state workers and invest in depressed economic areas.

Indeed, it was these sorts of incentives that prompted Microsoft to develop its next $1.1 billion data center in Iowa instead of Washington, Erik Smith wrote in the Seattle Times. The Washington State legislature had failed to extend high-tech tax credits, Smith reported, which enabled Iowa to swoop in and offer the Redmond, Washington-based technology company roughly $20 million in tax incentives. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, scores of high-paying jobs will result from the deal. 

As Iowa continues to lobby business to set up shop in the state, it is also working to enhance its workforce. Late last year, Branstad embarked on an initiative that seeks to draw military veterans to the state, the Des Moines Register reported. By employing such an all-encompassing approach to stimulating its economy, proponents argue that Iowa is well on its way to reaching the governor’s lofty goal of creating 200,000 new jobs in just five years.

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