Topic A: Energy - Analysis, discussion & commentary on energy exploration, development and innovation
Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 22, 2014

Is the Keystone XL Pipeline Project Now Irrelevant?

Rebecca Leber argues that the push to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project comes at time when it has become irrelevant.

“Since it was first proposed, the economics surrounding it have changed, with oil prices falling sharply, and the oil industry has pursued other options for oil transportation, including other pipeline projects and railroad shipments. Harold Hamm, an oil billionaire and CEO of Continental Resources, recently told Politico the debate is no longer relevant. ‘We’re supporting other pipelines out there, we’re not waiting on Keystone,’ he said. ‘Nobody is.’ Bloomberg News quoted several energy consultants that said the same. TransCanada’s CEO, however, continues to make the case that its pipeline will be necessary.’”

About Topic A: Energy

Policy Analysis, Commentary & Discussion

Topic A: Energy is a digital meeting place for industry experts and policy makers to stay abreast of key issues in energy exploration, development and innovation. Discussion is open to the public.

Some of the content is from Roll Call and some is original to this blog. It includes Sponsor Content clearly marked.

The blog is curated by an independent team of editors hired by Roll Call.

Read more about Topic A

Could Obama Use Keystone as Leverage for His Domestic Agenda?

Reuters: “President Barack Obama might be open to using the Keystone pipeline as leverage with Republicans if they cooperate on other aspects of his long-stalled domestic agenda, such as investing in infrastructure, closing tax loopholes or reducing carbon emissions.”

“After years of fighting over TransCanada’s crude oil pipeline from Canada, a Keystone deal is not entirely out of the question, sources inside the administration and others close to the White House told Reuters on Tuesday.”

“Any deal would have to yield concrete gains for Obama on his agenda. Obama also likely would insist on making an executive decision on the $8 billion pipeline from Canada, rather than letting Congress approve the permit, sources said.”

“‘Whatever the president decides, I expect it will be driven by the bottom line on carbon pollution, not by symbolism,’ one former administration official told Reuters.”

2014 on Track to be the Hottest Year on Record

Think Progress: “It has been the warmest January-October on record and last month was the hottest October on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Thursday.”

“And while you wouldn’t know it from the cold temperatures in large parts of this country, NOAA’s “State of the Climate: Global Analysis,” projects that 2014 is almost certainly going to be the hottest year on record worldwide — probably by far.”

“As it has done for the last few months, NOAA plotted out several scenarios for the next two months, and they all show 2014 becoming the hottest year on record.”

2014 ytd scenarios NOAA 638x468 2014 on Track to be the Hottest Year on Record

Study: Drillers Should Prioritize Water Supply Issues

Fuel Fix reports that “oil and gas producers need to do more than look at their own operations to address water supply problems in the areas where they drill, according to a report from consulting group Deloitte.”

“Outlining the financial and political risks of the industry’s growing use of water, the report suggests that the problems are often bigger than one single producer; Will Sarni, a director and practice leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, said in the report that oil companies should look to work with residential water users and other industry in the same watershed.”

“’There is an increasing recognition that you really can’t manage your water risk by just looking at direct operations,’ Sarni said, ‘You have to look outside.’”

Fracking to Occur in National Forest

The Associated Press reports that “over the objection of environmental groups and Virginia’s governor, a federal management plan released Tuesday will allow a form of natural gas drilling known as fracking to occur in parts of the largest national forest on the East Coast.”

“The U.S. Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the 1.1 million-acre George Washington National Forest, but energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest.”

“’We think we’ve ended up in a much better place, which is we are allowing oil and gas drilling,’ Robert Bonnie, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.”

Senate and Keystone: What’s Next?

National Geographic reports that “the U.S. Senate’s failure Tuesday to approve Keystone XL won’t resolve the seemingly endless pipeline saga that has engulfed Barack Obama’s presidency.”

“Looking ahead, here are six questions and answers about the pipeline’s fate.”

  1. “Why has Keystone XL remained so controversial?”
  2. “What’s holding up an Obama administration decision?”
  3. “Will Obama really veto a bill to approve Keystone?”
  4. “Does TransCanada face other state-level obstacles?”
  5. “Aren’t other pipelines proposed to move oil sands crude?”
  6. “Will falling oil prices decrease demand to produce and transport oil sands?”

How Green is Your State?

Eco Watch: “What states are moving ahead on clean energy and what states are lagging behind? A new interactive map released by Earthjustice lets you see at a glance.”

EarthjusticeMap How Green is Your State?

“The map is part of an Earthjustice report Coming Clean: The State of U.S. Renewable Energy. It lets you locate your state alphabetically by name or find the states that fall in each category: ‘Spotlighting Green,’ ‘Too Close to Call,’ and ‘Lagging Behind.’”

“The report also provides more detailed information on each state including its top three energy sources, its own renewable goal and how close it is to meeting the EPA goal, whether its goal is voluntary or mandatory, and where a state is excelling and where it needs to do more work as far as its current policies on renewable energy.”

“Among the standouts whose own renewable energy goals for 2030 exceed the EPA’s are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Oregon.”

“At the other end of the spectrum are heavily coal-dependent states that have formulated no emissions-reduction goals—including Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming.”

D.O.E. Loan Program That Funded Solyndra ‘Flop’ Will Earn $5 Billion

Bloomberg: “The U.S. government expects to earn $5 billion to $6 billion from the renewable-energy loan program that funded flops including Solyndra LLC, supporting President Barack Obama’s decision to back low-carbon technologies.”

“The results contradict the widely held view that the U.S. has wasted taxpayer money funding failures including Solyndra, which closed its doors in 2011 after receiving $528 million in government backing. That adds to Obama’s credibility as he seeks to make climate change a bigger priority after announcing a historic emissions deal with China.”

“A $5 billion return to taxpayers exceeds the returns from many venture capital and private equity investments in clean energy, said Michael Morosi, an analyst at Jetstream Capital LLC, which invests in renewable energy.”

“’People make a big deal about Solyndra and everything, but there’s a lot of VC capital that got torched right alongside the DOE capital,’ Morosi said. ‘A positive return over 20 years in cleantech? That’s not a bad outcome.’”

Mitch McConnell Is Now a Scientist

Rebecca Leber of The New Republic: “During his midterm campaign, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell regularly deflected questions about climate change by saying he is ‘not a scientist.’”

“But apparently McConnell will make an exception when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline. In remarks on the Senate floor, hours before a vote on a bill that fast-tracks construction of the pipeline, McConnell pointed to the ‘science’ supporting the legislation.”

“’Those who took a serious look at the science and the potential benefits reached the conclusion long ago,’ he said Tuesday. ‘They understand that the whole drama over Keystone has been as protracted as it is unnecessary. We hope to turn the page on all of that today.’”

Landrieu, Keystone Lose By One Vote

The New York Times reports that “Senate Democrats, by a single vote, stopped legislation that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the most fractious and expensive battles of the Obama presidency.”

“The vote represented a victory for the environmental movement, but the fight had taken on larger dimensions as a proxy war between Republicans, who argued that the project was vital for job creation, and President Obama, who had delayed a decision on building it.”

“Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who is facing a runoff election Dec. 6, had pleaded with her colleagues throughout the day to support the pipeline, leading to a rare suspense-filled roll call in the Senate. But she was ultimately rebuffed and fell short by one. The bill was defeated with 59 votes in favor and 41 against, and Ms. Landrieu needing 60 votes to proceed.”

Senate: Landrieu Tries for Keystone Votes

The New York Times reports that “Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana pushed hard on Monday to round up votes for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, part of a last-minute effort to help her survive a close runoff and one of the toughest battles of her political career.”

“Even if the Senate supports building the pipeline in a vote on Tuesday night, President Obama is likely to veto the measure on the grounds that an environmental review of the process remains incomplete.”

“Nonetheless, the events of this week suggest that after the expected veto, Mr. Obama may eventually approve the pipeline, which would run from the oil sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast. The project is anathema to the environmentalists who are part of the president’s political base.”

Goldman: OPEC Faces Dilemma

Bloomberg reports that “a ’large’ production cut by OPEC to prop up crude prices isn’t in the group’s interest because it’s likely to bolster an expansion of U.S. shale oil, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.”

“While the slide in prices into a bear market increases the chances of a reduction, trimming output by more than 500,000 barrels a day would mean further cuts are needed starting 2016 as higher prices prompt more U.S. drilling, Goldman said in a note yesterday. Some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries including Saudi Arabia have resisted calls to decrease supply while others seek action to support crude.”

“’A large cut would be difficult to implement,’ given the financing needs of some OPEC members, said analysts including New York-based Jeffrey Currie, referring to Libya, Iran, Venezuela and Iraq, the group’s second-largest member.”

Study: State Collaboration Can Bring Carbon Reduction Costs Down

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “meeting federal carbon emission targets will be a lot cheaper if Pennsylvania teams up with other states, a new analysis by the nation’s largest grid operator found.”

“PJM Interconnection — the Valley Forge, Pa., organization that manages the flow of electricity in 13 northeastern states and the District of Columbia — released preliminary results of the study showing how much it would cost its constituent states to comply with the Clean Power Plan proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year.”

“The EPA standards aim to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. States get to decide how they want to meet their individual targets and whether they would do it independently or as part of a regional cluster.”

“PJM’s analysis suggests the latter approach might be the way to go.”

Might ‘Nanosize’ Batteries Revolutionize Green Energy?

National Geographic reports that “tiny is big in the quest to build batteries that store more energy for cars, buildings, and personal electronics.”

“Nanosize batteries that are 80,000 times thinner than a human hair represent a promising new front. They could advance the use of electric vehicles, now limited by short driving ranges, and of renewable energy, which needs storage for times when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.”

“The latest breakthrough: a ‘nanopore’ that’s the ultimate in miniaturization. It’s a hole in a ceramic sheet, no thicker than a grain of salt, that contains all the components a battery needs to produce electric current. One billion of these holes, connected in a honeycomb fashion, could fit on a postage stamp.”

GOP Plans Energy Policy Revolution

“The Republican party will seek to remove what it claims are shackles on America’s energy revolution just as low oil prices threaten the economic viability of some US shale developments,” the Financial Times reports.

“Since Republicans won control of Congress, attention has focused on their support for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and opposition to what they call the president’s “war on coal”, but a push to boost US shale energy will be at the heart of their agenda.”

“Republicans and industry officials say oil and gas is being held back by outdated laws and mindsets rooted in the 1970s, when the Arab oil embargo and energy shortages created an imperative to protect domestic resources.”

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...