U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Energy Blog

Energy Blog

US Chamber of Commerce Blog

Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

After years of robust growth in the energy industry, things have slowed a bit due to lower oil prices and production. There's every reason to believe, however, that America continues to have a great opportunity to be a global leader in energy if we adjust our national energy policies for this new era of energy abundance.

America's energy revolution is already responsible for most of our net job creation and economic growth since the recession. After years of empty predictions about "peak oil," the United States is now the world's largest oil and natural gas producer. While prices may fluctuate, worldwide energy demand is only going in one direction--up. Global demand will increase 50% by 2040. With growing reserves of shale oil and gas across our nation, that presents a great opportunity for us.

There are three things we can do to ensure that energy continues to drive the U.S. economy and job creation for decades to come. First, we must remove barriers and obstacles to production. We should open more federal lands to safe and responsible development. We must beat back burdensome regulations that target entire energy sectors and seek to cripple production of our resources. We must modernize a broken permitting system that prevents job-creating energy projects from getting off the ground.

Second, we should lift the outdated ban on oil exports. The ban was enacted in 1975 when our nation was facing an oil embargo and long lines at the gas pump. Today's reality is much different. Studies have shown that lifting the ban on oil exports will decrease the price of gasoline by as much as $5.8 billion per year, create an additional 394,000 jobs, as well as add $1.3 trillion to the federal Treasury by 2030 and $239 per year in disposable income to American households. American oil entering the global marketplace will not only lower prices, but it will help ensure that energy cannot be used as a tool by unfriendly nations.

Third, we need to protect our energy infrastructure from physical disruptions and cyberattacks. According to the Department of Homeland Security, attacks against energy-related systems made up more than 40% of all reported incidents in fiscal year 2012. To combat these threats, information exchanges between government intelligence agencies and the private sector are absolutely critical.

When we think about ways to create jobs, boost revenues, and improve our national security, updating our energy policy should be at the top of our list. Smart reforms will keep America the world leader in energy production for decades to come.

Sean Hackbarth Boundary Dam Power Station in Saskatchewan is the world's first commercial-scale coal-fired power station with a fully-integrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) system.Boundary Dam is the world's first commercial-scale coal-fired power plant with a CCS system. Photo credit: SaskPower.

EPA may have lost faith in an important technological component in upcoming carbon regulations.

Newsmax reports the agency may have abandoned carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), a crucial technological requirement in its proposed carbon regulations for new power plants:

InsideEPA cites a source who said the "EPA decided to drop the CCS mandate in the face of growing legal concern that the technology requirement would not withstand court review, because the projects the agency had relied on to show that CCS is 'adequately demonstrated' and 'commercially available' are faltering."

...

The EPA plans to release its New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) report this summer.

InsideEPA explained, "EPA's proposed NSPS sets an emissions rate for new coal plants of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which can only be achieved with partial CCS."

It would be hard for EPA to claim that the technology is commercially viable when the world's only commercial CCS plant-- Saskatchewan's Boundary Dam power plant--hasn't even been operating for a full year.

There have been plenty of voices telling EPA not to have such hope that CCS will be ready anytime soon. Dan Byers of the U.S. Chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy wrote on this blog:

The EPA is mandating carbon capture sequestration (CCS), but as an integrated technology, CCS has never been demonstrated on a commercial power plant, and is nowhere near ready for broad deployment. This fact has been argued by the federal government itself.

And Charles McConnell, former assistant secretary of energy in the Obama Administration, in 2013 told the House Science Committee:

[C]ommercial [CSS] technology currently is not available to meet EPA's proposed rule. The cost of current CO2 capture technology is much too high to be commercially viable....  [I]t is disingenuous to state that the technology is "ready."

The agency may have finally realized that wishing for a technological fix to work wouldn't withstand the scrutiny of a federal court.

EPA is expected to release final carbon regulations on new power plants in August.

Sean Hackbarth Sea ice floating in the Chukchi Sea.Sea ice floating in the Chukchi Sea. Photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

While the Interior Department granting Shell permission to drill exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's coast may rile up Pacific Northwest anti-energy activists, developing the region's energy resources has solid support in early Presidential contest states, recent polls from the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) find.

I made three charts out fo the findings. 

South Carolina

south-carolina-voters-backing-arctic-drilling-support-oppose_800px.png Consumer Energy Alliance South Carolina Arctic Energy Poll Consumer Energy Alliance South Carolina Arctic Energy Poll

South Carolina voters were found to support Arctic offshore energy production by a significant 38 point margin, with 63% of voters in support and only 32% in opposition. As the primary season approaches, these results show that Presidential candidates will need to take a strong stance on the issue of Arctic offshore energy exploration.

Iowa

iowa-voters-backing-arctic-drilling-support-oppose_800px.png Consumer Energy Alliance Iowa Arctic Energy Poll Consumer Energy Alliance Iowa Arctic Energy Poll

A majority of registered voters in Iowa support allowing offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in U.S. waters inside the Arctic Circle (52% support, 32% oppose). Three-quarters of Republicans support Arctic drilling (74% support, 10% oppose). A near majority of Democrats oppose the measure (34% support, 49% oppose). Arctic drilling is supported by a wide plurality of non-partisan voters (48% support, 38% oppose).

New Hampshire

new-hampshire-voters-backing-arctic-drilling-support-oppose_800px.png Consumer Energy Alliance New Hampshire Arctic Energy Poll Consumer Energy Alliance New Hampshire Arctic Energy Poll

A majority of registered voters in New Hampshire support allowing offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in U.S. waters inside the Arctic Circle while only about a third oppose it (54% support, 35% oppose). More than two-thirds of Republicans support Arctic drilling (70% support, 18% oppose), as does a narrower majority of non-partisans (54% support, 35% oppose). Most Democrats oppose the measure (34% support, 54% oppose).

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air analyzes the findings in terms of voters appreciating improved energy security from expanded domestic development:

Americans are enjoying the benefits of being a global energy leader and not relying entirely on the good will of nations who don't care much for us.

As I wrote previously, "The U.S. portion of the Arctic holds 34 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil or "about 15 years of current U.S. net oil imports." America's economy will continue to rely on oil and natural gas for decades to come. We should begin developing those resources sooner rather than later.