Topic A: Energy - Analysis, discussion & commentary on energy exploration, development and innovation
Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

Report: U.S. Energy Independence 10 Years Away

Natural Gas Intel reports that “the road to energy independence has two lanes: produce more and consume less. Thanks to growing output from shale plays and increasing energy efficiency, the United States is driving in both lanes and is estimated to reach energy independence by 2025, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie.”

“When the country does reach energy independence, it will be the first time since 1952 that the United States exports more energy than it imports, according to the firm’s analysts.”

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Producers Lobby for Oil Exports

Fuel Fix reports that “the nation’s largest independent oil companies are banding together to lobby for the right to export crude around the world.”

“The new venture, dubbed ‘Producers for American Crude Oil Exports,’ is the first formal lobbying effort solely designed to take down the 39-year-old ban on selling most U.S. oil overseas. With more than a dozen independent oil companies on board, the venture is a sign that the industry is revving up for a big, coordinated push to dismantle those trade restrictions next year, when a new Congress is sworn in and the Obama administration may have more political freedom to tackle the issue.”

Sen. Wyden: DOE Should Study Strategic Petroleum Reserve

A politicalnews.me press release states: “Sen. Ron Wyden, D- Ore., asked the Department of Energy to follow through on a recommendation from the Government Accountability Office to study the size and make-up of the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve – the largest emergency supply of crude oil in the world.”

“In a report released Monday, the GAO noted that increased domestic crude oil production, combined with decreasing net oil imports as well as industry developments and related public policies implemented over the last 40 years raise serious questions about the necessary size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Given these changes, the GAO recommended the DOE, which is responsible for maintaining the reserve, initiate an evaluation.”

“’The recent shale boom is having a profound effect on United States energy policy,’ Wyden wrote in the letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. ‘In fact, some policy provisions put in place as recently as 2007 are now at best irrelevant, or at worst detrimental, to national environmental and economic goals, while much of our law in relation to oil and gas conservation and reserves comes from the 1970s.’”

New Worker Perk: Home Solar Power Discounts

The New York Times reports that “expanding the notion of corporate benefits beyond discounted health club memberships and low insurance rates, a group of major companies is set to offer employees access to cheaper solar systems for the home.”

“Under an arrangement announced Wednesday, employees of the companies — Cisco Systems, 3M, Kimberly-Clark and National Geographic — will be able to buy or lease solar systems for their homes at rates substantially lower than the national average, executives said. The program, offered through Geostellar, an online marketer of solar systems, will be available to more than 100,000 employees and will include options for their friends and families in the United States and parts of Canada.”

“Conceived at the World Wildlife Fund, the program, called the Solar Community Initiative, aims to use the bulk buying power of employees to allow for discounts on home systems.”

Environmental and Energy Issues Are a Hot Topic This Election Season

New York Times: “Ads mentioning energy, climate change and the environment — over 125,000 spots and climbing on the Senate side — have surged to record levels during the 2014 midterm election cycle, reflecting the priorities of some of the nation’s wealthiest donors, with Democrats now pouring millions into campaigns to match Republicans, according to an analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising.”

“In Senate races in the general election, the analysis found, energy and the environment are the third-most mentioned issue in political advertisements, behind health care and jobs.”

Screen Shot 2014 10 21 at 3.48.53 PM e1413920976223 Environmental and Energy Issues Are a Hot Topic This Election Season

2014 Wind Installations Surpass 2013 Capacity

Bloomberg: “The U.S. added 419 megawatts of wind-power capacity in the third quarter, as installations in the first nine months surpassed all of last year, the American Wind Energy Association said.”

“Nineteen projects have added 1,254 megawatts this year, up from 1,088 megawatts in 2013 … The rate of growth in wind development has slowed in recent years as a federal credit has been allowed to repeatedly lapse by lawmakers. The tax was renewed by Congress last year and has expired again.”

“More than 20 percent of the nation’s existing 62,300 megawatts are in Texas, which had the largest rate of installations during the third quarter.”

An Increase in Air Pollution

Eco Watch: “Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration released today show that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 2.5 percent in 2013, from 5,267 million metric tons in 2012 to 5,396 million metric tons in 2013. This increase comes after two years of declining emissions.”

EIA cites two major reasons emissions rose in 2013:

  • Colder weather, which increased the demand for oil and natural gas to heat homes and drove an increase in residential sector emissions (nearly half of the total emissions increase in 2013).
  • More coal-fired electricity generation. Higher natural gas prices in 2013 resulted in a small shift back from natural gas to coal-fired generation.

eiachart An Increase in Air Pollution

NASA: Space Program Can Help Arctic Drillers

Rigzone reports that “as the oil and gas industry intensifies its exploration efforts in the Arctic, it could benefit from exploration of another kind – outer space, Dr. Omar Hatamleh, NASA’s assistant chief scientist, told attendees at the recent Houston Consular Forum in Houston, Texas.”

“The space program and drilling in extreme environments have some surprising similarities, Hatamleh said.”

“’What are the advantages of working with NASA? During the peak of the Apollo program in the 1960s, it took about 400,000 people from different industries, academia and the government to produce this great endeavor. That was a huge cost in personnel, and wouldn’t be allowed in today’s environment,’ Hatamleh said. ‘Experts estimate that by 2050, total energy demand is going to be about 80 percent higher. We need to put together our collective intellect to start thinking about better ways to attack these problems and move forward.’”

Rise in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Guardian (UK) reports that “America’s energy-related carbon pollution rose 2.5% last year despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, according to new federal data.”

“The rise in emissions from burning coal, oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels was one of the steepest on record in the last 25 years, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Energy Review.”

“The increase in carbon pollution is a setback for Obama, who has been heavily promoting his progress in cutting America’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Oklahoma State Senate Looks at Wind Tax Credits

The Associated Press reports that “a state Senate committee is taking a close look at some of the tax incentives and subsidies offered to help lure the burgeoning wind industry to Oklahoma.”

“The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony Tuesday from opponents and supporters of the industry, which has grown dramatically in Oklahoma over the last decade.”

“State tax officials estimate two main tax incentives offered to the industry are projected to cost the state about $300 million over the next four years.”

Oil And Gas Industry Backs Landrieu in Louisiana US Senate Race

Reuters reports that “oil and gas interests are pouring money into a tight U.S. Senate race in Louisiana, giving twice as much to the Senate campaign of incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu than her Republican challenger even though the industry backs the Republican push to regain control of the Senate.”

“Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, is struggling to fend off Republican Representative Bill Cassidy and Tea Party favorite Rob Maness on Nov. 4 in one of a handful of races that could determine which party holds a Senate majority.”

“As much as the industry wants to see Republicans wrest control of the Senate, it has a bigger fish to fry in the Louisiana race. Oil and gas interests want Landrieu to retain leadership of the energy panel and prevent another Democrat, Maria Cantwell, who backs an environmentalist agenda, from taking over the committee.”

GAO: Oil Exports Could Reduce Gas Prices at the Pump

Fuel Fix reports: “Ending the United States’ longstanding ban against most crude exports could lift oil prices inside the country while decreasing the cost of gasoline, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.”

“The document — the first broad government analysis of proposed oil exports — dovetails with industry-backed studies predicting lower gasoline prices would result if repealing the export ban spurred more domestic crude production and helped lower world prices for the fossil fuel. Domestic gasoline prices tend to track the international Brent crude benchmark, rather than US. oil prices.”

“The GAO report — largely a digest of four existing studies and interviews with refiners, oil producers and other stakeholders — isn’t the silver bullet that export advocates want. They are waiting for a more definitive analysis from the government’s Energy Information Administration, expected later this year.”

Former U.S. Energy Deputy Secretary Joins Harvard as Senior Fellow

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government announced that “Daniel Poneman, former Deputy Secretary of Energy, has joined Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs as a senior fellow.”"

Poneman was nominated by President Obama to be Deputy Secretary of Energy on April 20, 2009, and was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 18, 2009. Under the leadership of Secretaries of Energy Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz, Poneman also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Department. Between April 23, 2013, and May 21, 2013, Poneman served as Acting Secretary of Energy. He concluded his responsibilities as Deputy Secretary on October 3, following the longest tenure in that position in the Department’s history.”"

Poneman’s responsibilities spanned the full range of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, including fossil and nuclear energy, renewables and energy efficiency, and international cooperation around the world. He led 2009 negotiations to address Iran’s nuclear program and participated in the Deputies’ Committee at the National Security Council. He played an instrumental role in the Department’s response to crises from Fukushima to the Libyan civil war to Hurricane Sandy, and led the Department’s efforts to strengthen emergency response and cybersecurity across the energy sector. As Chair of the Credit Review Board, he considered a wide array of DOE loan guarantees to support the expansion of clean power generation (including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass) and advanced vehicles across the nation. His efforts supported all three pillars of the President’s Climate Action Plan – cutting carbon pollution in America, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change, and leading international cooperation to support the first two pillars.”

Study Shows Natural Gas Won’t Slow Global Warming

Associated Press: A “new international study says an expansion of natural gas use by 2050 would also keep other energy-producing technologies like wind, solar and nuclear, from being used more. And those technologies are even better than natural gas for avoiding global warming.”

“Computer simulations show that emissions of heat-trapping gases to make electricity would not decline worldwide and could possibly go up, says the study, released Wednesday by the journal Nature.”

“Two computer models even found that when considering other factors like methane leaks, cheaper natural gas could lead to more trapping of heat by greenhouse gases.”

“The new results show it’s important to have a climate policy to go with cheap natural gas, said experts who weren’t part of the research.”

Republicans’ ‘Nutty’ Stand on Climate Change

Rebecca Leber questions why Mitch McConnell, who “often chides Obama for his lack of leadership” is now “willing to make an exception for climate change … McConnell said on Monday that he would rather the U.S. do less on climate change and let other countries take the lead.”

McConnell: “Well the president has been trying to take a leadership position, but of course nobody is interested in tying their hands behind their back and creating more problems for their people in pursuit of a goal they do not think we can achieve … My job is to look out for Kentucky’s coal miners.”

And Jonathan Chait contends that Paul Ryan is “a nut” for constantly dodging the question about the link between human activity and global warming.

“His ideological fantasies prevent him from accepting even basic scientific facts. He is, to be sure, a lucid nut, rather than a raving nut who accosts passersby on street corners. Ryan has spent his life imbibing the tenets of right-wing-movement thought, and he can apply the concepts he has learned to nearly any topic.”

“So while nuttery can be found on the left and right, it is not a bipartisan problem at the national level … If the Democrats let [Robert Kennedy Jr -- a Democratic 'nut' --] write their party-policy manifesto, or gave him a spot on their presidential ticket, it would be very, very alarming. But Ryan is in a party where this sort of thing barely even attracts attention.”

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