U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Energy Blog

Energy Blog

US Chamber of Commerce Blog

Sean Hackbarth U.S. Capitol dome seen through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

Early on in his time in office, President Donald Trump has made great strides on energy. Unlike his predecessor who only paid lip service to embracing all of America’s energy abundance, President Trump is advancing policies he expects will “start a new energy revolution.”

In Oil & Gas Financial Journal, Karen Harbert, president and CEO for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy lists off some of President Trump’s accomplishments:

Moreover, at the time of this writing, numerous additional measures were just set in motion, including an executive order declaring energy independence a strategic national priority, initiating withdrawal of EPA's Clean Power Plan, reversing the Obama Administration moratorium on federal lands coal leasing, and repealing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidance aimed at making mitigation of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions a condition of federal environmental permitting.

As of press time, the Trump administration has already taken executive action to:

advance permitting decisions for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; rescind an EPA data-collection program on methane emissions for oil and gas facilities-a precursor to eventual regulation; withdraw the Environmental Protection Agency's "Waters of the US" rule; repeal restrictions on fracking on federal lands; and sign Congressional Review Act legislation repealing the Bureau of Land Management's anti-coal "Stream Protection Rule."

But Harbert notes Congress needs to lock in these gains:

Reining in federal agencies, however, is no substitute for legislation. Many of the administrative actions the president has taken are subject to similarly straightforward reversal by future chief executives.

The good news is that members of Congress are eager to get to work and motivated by the opportunity to collaborate with a supportive president. Groundwork is underway. Key congressional leaders have announced their intent to pursue updates to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and NEPA-not to undermine important environmental protections, but to prevent regulators and activists from perverting statutory intent as a means to block investment and energy production. We are even more optimistic about changes to the way regulations are developed, through the Regulatory Accountability Act, and bipartisan infrastructure legislation that could help ease energy bottlenecks.

 

When both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue work to unshackle America’s energy sector, good jobs, rising wages, and stronger economic growth will follow.

Sean Hackbarth  Tim Rue/Bloomberg.Oil tankers anchored near the Port of Long Beach, Calif. Photo credit: Tim Rue/Bloomberg.

The U.S. oil export boom is an example that policy matters.

In December 2015, after 40 years, American oil was allowed to be exported. Companies quickly got to work, and they haven’t looked back.

Energy Information Administration data show that 746,000 barrels a day of oil were exported in January 2017.

 U.S. oil exportsChart: U.S. oil exportsSource: Energy Information Administration.

The record pace continues, CNBC reported in March:

The U.S. last week sent more than 1 million barrels a day of crude out of the country, the third biggest export week ever, and double the average amount exported in 2016. It is also the third time this year that U.S. exports exceeded a million barrels a day, an industry record.

Before the restrictions, 92% of oil exports went to Canada which was exempt from the export ban. But in 2016 U.S. crude oil went to 26 different countries.

By changing the law, new markets opened to American oil. This incentivized companies to invest in domestic production, which in turn, supports workers who produce and transport oil. There are over 500,000 jobs in the oil and petroleum industry according to an Energy Department report. Some of these jobs wouldn’t exist if it the export ban hadn’t been lifted.

It’s a reminder that when it comes to supporting jobs and our economy, good policy out of Washington makes a difference. It's why the U.S. Chamber supported lifting the ban. Here are the Congressmen and Senators who voted in 2015 to make this happen.

Sean Hackbarth Dakota Access Pipeline protesters pin a security guard against a truck.Dakota Access Pipeline protesters pin a security guard against a truck. Photo source: Morton County (N.D.) Sheriff's Department.

Don’t expect the Pipeline Wars to simmer down, because some radical opponents will go to any lengths to stop them.

Inside Sources reports one group of pipeline protesters is selling an ecoterrorism manual to instruct others on how to fight energy infrastructure projects:

They call it DAM. That’s short for Direct Action Manual. Groups connected to the protest camp for the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Pennsylvania are selling copies for $25. Published by Earth First! — an openly radical environmentalist (sic) group and journal — the manual lays out protest techniques for use by environmentalists. Some of these approaches were even used at the pipeline protests in North Dakota last year. Earth First! supports violent actions against energy infrastructure development and the manual itself is essentially an ecoterrorist’s handbook, laying out techniques and approaches to stop various forms of energy infrastructure development. Now on its third edition, its publishers are supporters of the protest against the Mariner 2 pipeline in Pennsylvania and worked to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in the past.

The report goes into some of the tactics mentioned in the book:

“The possibilities are really endless, and you should let your imagination run wild,” the Direct Action Manual advises. “Do they only value money and property? Some slashed tires, paint stripper, and sand in the gas tank can certainly make them think twice about if their choices are worth it…Channel your inner younger sibling energy and you’ll be sure to make someone’s life hell.”

This is followed by a section detailing how to turn off lights and water at someone’s home or business and recipes for DIY stink bombs and “critter bombs,” involving a dead animal.

Many of those violent tactics were used in the protests surrounding the recently-completed Dakota Access Pipeline: Arson;  rioting; vandalism; tires slashed and hoses cut on heavy machinery; construction and security workers attacked; Molotov cocktails launched at police.


What’s more, during the protests, pipeline opponents calling themselves, "Climate Direct Action," attacked four other pipelines. One expert warned their actions could’ve created a “catastrophic” pipeline disaster.

Now with an energy-friendly president in the White House, it should be easier to get oil and natural gas pipeline projects through the federal permitting process. In response, “Keep it in the ground” folks may resort to more violence to stop them.

Energy infrastructure developers and law enforcement must be vigilant. Also, anyone (or groups) tempted to join these pipeline protests—like celebrities—should think twice about the types of people they may be associating with.

Spirited debate is an American tradition, but it crosses the line when it becomes violent.