U.S. Chamber of Commerce link

Energy Blog

Sean Hackbarth Pizza jointPhotographer: David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott/Flickr. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Want to make 50 grand delivering pizzas? Kathy Hoekstra at the Job Creators Network blog found a job listing in North Dakota:

Total Yearly Income: $56,400

Benefits Include:

- One week paid vacation every 6 months after your first six months.

- During your week of paid vacation you also receive a $1000 bonus.

-We will match up to $100/month in an employee savings account.

- If you like we also offer a Personal Financial Assistant to pay bills, do taxes and help manage your money.

In addition, there is no requirement for a college degree or any special certification - just a clean driving record, no criminal history and a reliable vehicle.

This is an example of the intense demand for workers there. As Hoekstra writes, shale oil development is the instigator for this:

Thanks to the shale oil extraction and a welcoming business environment, the state has increased its oil output tenfold over the past eight years, capped so far by records of more than one million barrels of oil per day for two straight months. Some 12 percent of US oil comes from North Dakota.

As a result, North Dakota boasts the nation’s lowest unemployment rate (2.6 percent in May.) The oil jobs are lucrative enough, commanding average salaries of about $100,000, “often with little-to-no experience or need for a college degree.”

North Dakota isn’t an anomaly. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data show that energy development is driving above-average economic growth in states such as Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

With smart federal policies, we can expect this to continue. A U.S. Chamber Institute for 21st Century Energy study found that shale oil and natural gas development could support 3.9 million jobs by 2025.

While we shouldn't expect pizza drivers to make $50K everywhere, we do know the job-creating potential of developing America’s energy abundance.

[H/t Mark Perry]

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

Sean Hackbarth Electrical towerPhotographer: Philippe Put/Flickr. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

The United States may be enjoying a natural gas boom, but at the Energy Information Administration’s annual summit, International Energy Agency executive director Maria van der Hoeven cautioned, “Energy security requires diversity. You don’t want too many eggs in one basket.”

In her speech, van der Hoeven applauded the impressive gains in natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing:

It was only seven years ago that your country was importing more than 300 billion cubic feet of gas a month. Now, you are on the cusp of becoming a net exporter. You are producing gas in abundance, so much so that it is muscling out other sources of power. 

She noted that reduced energy diversity could have serious implications, using the Northeast’s harsh cold snap last winter as an example:

Now, if your energy system had relied only on gas at the time of the “polar vortex”, the additional heating demand would have meant there was not enough gas for the power sector, and the system would have failed. Coal, nuclear and wind were all essential for keeping the lights on. Diversity of your power mix guaranteed your short-term energy security.

Unfortunately, later on in her speech, van der Hoeven not only backed EPA’s costly proposed greenhouse gas regulations but wants the agency to take “further steps” in reducing emissions. She believes carbon capture and sequestration technology is the answer. However, the technology is years away from being viable. EPA’s regulations are intended to drive coal out of America’s energy mix, resulting in less energy diversity and less energy security.

Current anti-coal policies are already doing damage to the latter. In April at the U.S. Chamber, FirstEnergy president and CEO Anthony Alexander explained that because of EPA power plant rules, “an estimated 376 coal-based units will close in 38 states over the next three to five years.  That’s nearly 17 percent of our nation’s coal fleet’s capacity.”

Van der Hoeven correctly touted that fuel mix diversity is important to energy security. However, she contradicted her commentary by pushing for policies that would shove coal out of America’s energy picture.

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

Sean Hackbarth An oil truck takes a load back to town in McKenzie County west of Watford City, North Dakota.An oil truck takes a load back to town in McKenzie County west of Watford City, North Dakota.Photographer: Tim Evanson/Flickr. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

This Bloomberg story shows that to sustain America’s energy boom, we need to ensure we’re investing enough in our roads:

With the U.S. projected to be energy self-sufficient by 2030, according to BP, crumbling highways may threaten billions of dollars of investment in the oil patch. Because more wells are being drilled using hydraulic fracturing, there’s greater need for truckloads of water, sand and chemicals, as well as steel structures used in the process in fields often miles from major roads.

“If you drive a cattle truck one or two times a year, you’re not affecting that road very much, but the first day you drive a 175,000-pound substructure of a drilling rig up that road you begin to destroy it,” Daryl Fowler, the county judge in DeWitt, Texas, said by phone May 20. “You’re looking at $2 billion of capital investment in our county alone that will be thwarted or curtailed completely if the road system is abandoned and they can’t get their product to market.”

DeWitt County is in southeast Texas, about halfway between San Antonio and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the heart of the Eagle Ford shale formation. About 87,000 barrels of oil a day were extracted within its borders last year, more than in 39 states and all but five other counties in Texas.

In North Dakota, where record-amounts of oil are being produced, there are similar highway concerns:

In North Dakota, nice weather may cause the biggest road problems. As the freezing winter thaws into spring, soil softens beneath roads and the state highway department restricts truck loads. The limits typically last from March through May or June, and for the past five years they’ve stayed on some highways in the Bakken area year-round.

Road issues, bad weather and exhausted wells have hampered crude production growth in North Dakota. Oil output from the state’s portion of the Bakken shale grew 24,000 barrels a day between December and April after growing 166,000 barrels a day from June through November last year.

Adequate transportation investment is critical. However, the Highway Trust Fund will soon become insolvent and throw state highway construction projects into chaos.

As Congress works to find short- and long-term solutions to the fund’s shortfall, here’s a reminder that a reliable transportation system is critical for every sector of the economy, including energy.

Read this explainer to learn more about the Highway Trust Fund.

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

Matt Letourneau  Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC. Photographer: Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

One of the biggest shortcomings of the public discussion surrounding EPA’s proposed power plant rules is the complete lack of context given to the topic.   The arguments in favor of the rule are often centered around addressing the impacts of climate change, even though EPA’s proposed rules will have virtually no impact on the issue

So let’s put aside all of the other issues and spend a minute examining the actual effectiveness of what EPA is proposing.  EPA estimates that as a result of its rule on existing power plants, carbon emissions in 2030 would be reduced by 555 million metric tons below current projections.  Sounds like a lot, and indeed it represents about 10 percent of U.S. emissions.

The problem is that the climate is a global issue, not just a U.S. one.   The U.S. currently accounts for about 18% of global emissions, while non-U.S. global emissions have jumped about 22% and are projected to increase an additional by 41% by 2030.

So what does that mean?  It means that the reduction in emissions from EPA’s rule would actually only decrease global emissions by 1.3%.  Based on projections from the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that will be reduced from EPA’s power plant rule is equivalent to just 13.5 days of Chinese emissions in 2030!

Perhaps that’s why EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted in a hearing last year that regulations are designed instead to “prompt and leverage international discussions and action.”

In other words—on their own, EPA’s incredibly complex, far-reaching and expensive regulations will have no impact on their actual underlying purpose.  The sentiment has also been acknowledged by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said:

[T]he United States cannot solve this problem or foot the bill alone….if we eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions – guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to counter the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. Because today, if even one or two economies neglects to respond to this threat, it can counter, erase all of the good work that the rest of the world has done. When I say we need a global solution, I mean we need a global solution.

The problem with that approach is that EPA’s proposed regulations, which will raise electricity rates and cost the economy billions—are not predicated upon any sort of international agreement or commitment to reduce emissions. The Obama Administration is set on implementing the rules regardless of the outcome of international negotiations.  And to date, China, India and other major emitters have shown no interest in reducing their emissions appreciably—even after “leadership” shown by Western nations, which have made strides.

That kind of strategy may allow the Administration to claim that its “doing something” about climate change, but it accomplishes nothing else except harm to the U.S. economy.