In 2011, polluted water was discovered in Pavillion, WY. EPA jumped to conclusions and released a non-peer reviewed report declaring that hydraulic fracturing was the cause. After issuing that report, EPA backed away from its claim. So much so that in 2013 it let Wyoming state environmental officials take over the investigation.
The first of three reports has been released and finds no evidence that natural gas wells stimulated by hydraulic fracturing caused water contamination, the AP reports:
A draft state report released Wednesday on a possible explanation why well water in a central Wyoming gas field smells foul and tastes bad points away from leaky gas wells as a source of the problem.
Testing showed no evidence gas wells in the Pavillion area are leaking produced gas into the ground or providing a route for deep gas to seep into aquifers tapped for household water, according to the draft report by the agency that regulates oil and gas development in Wyoming.
The release of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission report, which examined 50 gas wells within a quarter-mile of 15 water wells, opens a 30-day period for the public and others to weigh in on the draft findings.
Encana, the petroleum company that owns the Pavillion gas field, pointed to the latest findings as evidence their gas wells aren’t to blame.
“The report confirms that the natural gas wells in the Pavillion Field were soundly constructed and provide no migration pathway into domestic water wells,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said in an emailed statement.
I hope in the future EPA doesn't carelessly make accusations against hydraulic fracturing, a decades-old technology.
Because of America’s domestic oil boom, oil imports fell to their lowest level in 3 ½ years in June, improving the trade deficit.
As you can see from this chart by Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute, oil imports as a share of total petroleum products supplied have fallen dramatically since 2005, about the time when the shale boom began.Net United States petroleum importsSource: Mark Perry.
It seems counterintuitive to argue for exporting American oil, right? The Washington Post editorial board understands energy markets and explains why allowing U.S. oil exports is sound energy policy [emphasis mine]:
New technology is tapping oil-bearing shale formations in states such as North Dakota and Texas. Most of this product is light oil, which does not require heavy refining. Some of the most advanced refineries in the world are along the Gulf Coast, but that’s actually a problem: Their owners invested in expensive facilities suited to refining heavier crude, so there is a mismatch between the refining infrastructure and the type of crude flowing from U.S. wells. In the deeply interconnected global oil market, in which borders matter less than many people think, the obvious solution is to allow oil companies to ship the light crude to refineries suited for processing it, supporting U.S. profits and U.S. jobs in the process, and to tolerate imports of crude oil that U.S. refineries can handle.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz made this point in May.
The Post editorial goes on to note that exporting oil will improve American energy security: “[E]xpanded exports would encourage the development of oil fields and transport infrastructure, which would help the country weather some disruption in the global oil trade.”
The job gains will be substantial. An IHS study found that exporting U.S. oil will mean an additional $746 billion would be invested in domestic oil production resulting in an additional 1.2 million barrels per day of oil produced per year and 394,000 jobs created annually.
We’re long past fearing that an oil embargo will bring our economy to its knees. Instead, we live in a time of American energy abundance. When circumstances change, policies should too.
“Nothing has come close to the positive impact Marcellus Shale has had on our local economy.” That’s what Vince Matteo, President & CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and Dennis Martire, Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, wrote in May.
The economic benefits should continue unabated since, according to the Energy Information Administration, natural gas production hit a new milestone in July:
Natural gas production in the Marcellus Region exceeded 15 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) through July, the first time ever recorded, according to EIA's latest Drilling Productivity Report. The Marcellus Region, mostly located in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, is the largest producing shale gas basin in the United States, accounting for almost 40% of U.S. shale gas production. Marcellus Region production has increased dramatically over the past four years, increasing from 2 Bcf/d in 2010 to its current level.
Bloomberg reports, “Marcellus gas accounts for about 16 percent of gross U.S. production, up from 2 percent in 2008.”
Companies working the Marcellus Shale plan to hire 2,000 more people this year. Matteo and Martire write, this has brought hope to their area:
Our neighbors’ entrepreneurial spirit has seen a resurgence. For the first time in recent memory, young people have a real opportunity to stay here and many who left the region -- or the country -- to find work have returned home because good-paying, family-sustaining jobs are now available again.
Jobs ranging from all educational levels are being created across a growing and robust supply chain, with many paying salaries twice that of the statewide average.
The economic benefits from natural gas development have spread across Pennsylvania, as the Manhattan Institute’s Mark Mills writes:
The Marcellus shale fields in Pennsylvania were responsible for enabling statewide double-digit job growth in 2010 and 2011 and now account for more than one-fifth of that state’s manufacturing jobs. For every $1 that the Marcellus industry spends in the state, $1.90 of total economic output is generated.
At the same time, Duke University researchers concluded that natural gas development via hydraulic fracturing has been a plus for local Pennsylvania governments.
Responsible development of Marcellus Shale natural gas is creating jobs and improving peoples' lives. If federal regulators refrain from slapping duplicative regulations on hydraulic fracturing, these communities will continue reaping the benefits.
[H/t Mark Perry]
The minority staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee released a report tracing how the anti-energy agenda is funded through private foundations to influential Washington, DC-based environmental organizations and to local activist groups. In particular the report looks at how a California-based foundation funded a local Nebraska group that opposes the Keystone XL pipeline:
Bold Nebraska projects itself as a Nebraska-based and progressively oriented organization, proclaiming on its website: “Nebraskans are bold. We are pioneers. We are reformers. We are independent. Bold Nebraska is setting out to change the political landscape and restore political balance. We are going back to our roots and we need your help to build a Bold Nebraska.” However, underlying Bold Nebraska’s homespun, grassroots facade is a significant, growing, well-funded and well-organized financial support network originating from wealthy far-left environmental interests thousands of miles away.
This funding network ensures that Bold Nebraska continues to protest the job-creating, energy infrastructure project:
In 2012, the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation gave it $50,000, and Tides’ San Francisco-based 501(c)(4) group, The Advocacy Fund, gave $15,000. These two donations equaled one-third of Bold Nebraska’s total contributions received in 2012. In 2013, Tides Foundation almost doubled its 2012 grant by giving $90,000.
This chart illustrates the connection between influencers and local organization.Funding of Keystone XL opposition group, Bold Nebraska.Source: Minority Staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Bold Nebraska is certaintly local, but it's also the product of anti-energy, foundation-funded activism.
In an interview with The Economist, President Obama claims that his administration’s policies have “generally been friendly towards business.”
I’ll grant him this: On the need for immigration reform and promoting trade, his administration has been on the right side. But here’s the flipside: On health care, energy, environmental regulations, financial regulations, and labor law, his administration has put up too many barriers that keep businesses from growing, investing, and hiring.Obamacare
Despite the promise to lower health care costs, recent surveys have found that employers expect costs to rise 8% - 9%. The biggest worry for business owners and executives remains rising health care costs.
There’s been little done to pull back the onerous employer mandate. Its definition of full-time work continues to be a perverse incentive to hire part-timers. Yet, the White House threatened to veto a House bill that would restore the 40-hour definition of full-time work. In addition, complying with its reporting requirements will be costly and complex.Energy
Oil and natural gas production on federal lands has decreased, while it’s increased on private and state lands.
Also, we’re still waiting for the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s found plenty of excuses to delay it and keep thousands of jobs from being created.EPA
EPA has proposed carbon regulations that will raise electricity prices and cost one million jobs.
Its (along with the Army Corps of Engineers’) proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule will subject farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, home builders—nearly any property owner—to new layers of reviews and permitting.
Under Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, regulators have to treat insurance companies like banks even though they have much different business models. As John Berlau points out in The Hill, this flawed regulatory approach will hurt the insurance industry and its customers:
Imposing bank capital standards on insurers would raise costs for life insurance consumers by $5 billion to $8 billion, according to the economic consulting firm Oliver Wyman. These costs could hit policy holders both through higher premiums and reduced benefits. And some policies simply could become unavailable as insurers “exit certain product lines,” the Oliver Wyman study found.NLRB
After the President filled it with pro-union commissioners, the National Labor Relations board wants to treat McDonald’s as a joint employer, which will change decades of labor law and upend the franchise business model, as Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (owners of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. brands) writes in the Wall Street Journal [subscription required] [h/t Tim Worstall]:
If the NLRB’s new interpretation of the rules—which McDonald’s has vowed to contest—becomes the law of the land, it will be tantamount to rewriting an existing contractual relationship by government fiat in ways the parties never contemplated and to their mutual detriment. Franchisers would inevitably pass the costs of jointly managing their franchisees’ employees on to their franchisees. Franchisees would find themselves unable to control their labor costs, a key controllable expense and an important element of their profitability.
These are just the issues at the top of my mind. In no way, have President Obama’s policies been “generally good for business.” More often than not, this administration has created policy roadblocks that keep businesses from investing and hiring. The tepid jobs recovery is proof of that.