December 8, 2010

Pyle: “Neitherjobs nor the nation’s energy security are important considerations for thispresident.” Thomas Pyle(12/7) writes on, “Just prior to the mid-term elections,President Obama ended the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, at longlast heeding an outcry that included members of his own party. However, thegesture was purely political, and as it turns out, deceptive. Behind thescenes, his regulators imposed new red tape so complex that a de facto“permitorium” effectively kept the ban in place. The result was permanent joblosses, even as it came to light that the Interior Department doctoredscientific reports to enforce what turned out to be an unnecessary shutdown ofGulf energy exploration in the first place. The oil and gas industry supported$12.7 billion in household earnings in Louisiana alone, according to statedata, and a study by LSU Professor Joseph Mason found that the ban cost up to155,000 jobs. The impact extended to the region’s small businesses fromsuppliers to grocery stores relying on revenue from the oil and gas industry. OnDecember 1, the president finally gave up the charade and declared that nodrilling will take place in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for the next five years.He even upped the ante, adding the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts to the no-drillzones. Evidently, neither jobs nor the nation’s energy security are importantconsiderations for this president.”

Big Wind,Hat-in-Hand, Claims Thousands of Jobs at Stake if Taxpayer Handouts to theIndustry Aren’t Continued. Associated Press (11/7) reports, “The wind industry urgedCongress on Tuesday to extend a cash grant program for production of renewableenergy, claiming tens of thousands of jobs are at stake. Meanwhile, a birdadvocacy group, the American Bird Conservancy, cautioned lawmakers to limitgrant recipients to those who take steps to protect wildlife — arguingthat such protections are needed to prevent avoidable bird fatalities atwindmills. The flurry of lobbying came as Congress took up a tax package thatincludes President Barack Obama’s compromise with Republicans on tax cuts. TheAmerican Wind Energy Association wants the package to include renewal of thecash grant program for development in wind, solar and other renewable energy.The program, created by the federal stimulus law, is set to expire at the endof this month. The wind group said that tens of thousands of Americans couldlose their jobs or not get called back from layoffs unless the program isextended.”

Thousandsof Wells Drilled in Gulf, One Tragic Accident. Token Republican on SpillCommission says, “industry has not made safety a high enough priority.”Wall Street Journal (12/8) reports, “The oil and gas industryneeds a "major transformation" in its approach to safety to avoidanother big offshore-drilling disaster, a leader of the presidential panelinvestigating the BP PLC accident plans to tell a gathering of industryofficials Wednesday. William K. Reilly, co-chairman of the National Commission onthe BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, also plans to saythat BP and two other companies involved with the doomed Macondowell—Halliburton Co. and Transocean Ltd.—made "breathtakinglyinept and largely preventable" missteps, according to a copy of hisprepared remarks viewed by The Wall Street Journal. "The interest groupthat could most threaten the future viability of offshore drilling is the oiland gas industry itself," Mr. Reilly says in the speech. "There hasto be a recognition that the industry has not made safety a high enoughpriority. We need a major transformation in the oil and gas industry’sunderstanding of what it means to put a priority on creating a safety culture.This is an industry wide challenge that can’t simply be laid at the feet of afew rogue players."

Time forE&C to become H&C: First order of Business for Incoming Chair of ENERGY& Commerce Committee? Name Joe Pitts Chair the Healthcare Sub Committee. Politico (12/7) reports, “Overcoming concerns that he’s too moderatefor the job, Rep. Fred Upton emerged Tuesday as the winner of a bitter internalRepublican battle to lead the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. TheMichigan Republican won the steering panel nod with critical support from Rep.John Boehner and a collection of senior and rank-and-file GOP lawmakers closelyallied with the incoming House speaker. The full GOP caucus must now ratifyUpton’s selection Wednesday, but that is expected to be a formality as formerEnergy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) told POLITICO he will notchallenge the steering committee’s decision. Upton ispoised to run a panel with broad authority over the economy, from health careto energy and telecommunications. While campaigning for the job, the 12-termlawmaker appealed to conservatives nervous about his credentials by pledging topursue repeal of key pieces of the new health care law and also closelyscrutinize the Obama administration’s climate change and energy policies. Uptonhas already made his first major choice – picking Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.)as chairman of the Health Subcommittee. “Together, we will protect the sanctityof life, ensuring early next Congress that no federal funds are used for abortion,”Upton said in a statement.”

StateDept. on Global Tour Promoting HF, Shale Gas Development. Stateside, EPA isLooking to Shutdown Process. Chris Tucker (11/8) writes on the Oklahoman, “An energy revolution is under way in the U.S.thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a 60-year-old oil and natural gas stimulationtechnology that — coupled with advancement in horizontal drilling —is making the development of energy from underground shale formationseconomical for the first time. Given that natural gas has half the carbonemissions as coal, the U.S. State Department is aggressively promoting shalegas exploration throughout Asia and Europe as a way to reduce global carbonemissions. While one bureaucracy in Washington is promoting natural gas abroad,another is angling to hamstring production at home, citing claims that itcontaminates groundwater. Despite how fracturing has been portrayed inHollywood and by some national media, it’s been tightly regulated byenergy-producing states for more than six decades, and safely used more than1.1 million times without impacting groundwater. Top EPA officials haveconfirmed this fact. For decades, politicians have touted “energyindependence.” As modern shale gas development continues to expand, energysecurity is now truly on the horizon. Oklahomans reside atop the WoodfordShale, whose development has contributed ample jobs and revenue to the state.Even President Obama recently cited natural gas as an area for congressionalbipartisanship.”

RES,CES, REM; Call it What you Want. Mandated Use of One form of Electricity OverAnother is a Win for Wall Street, Raw Deal for Main Street. E&ENews (subs.req’d, 12/7) reports, “Energy Secretary Steven Chu today laid out a possibleproposal for a "clean energy standard" to help provide energycompanies more long-term investment certainty. A requirement that utilities useclean energy sources — such as solar, wind and nuclear — to meet a percentageof electric generation could give certainty to the markets and power companiesjust as a price on carbon would, Chu said during a nuclear energy roundtablediscussion hosted by the think tank Third Way and the Idaho NationalLaboratory. The "clean energy standard" (CES) would provide a targetand guidelines to help businesses make decisions but would not cost the federalgovernment any money, instead becoming a direct cost to the consumers and themarket, he said. "The federal government is ultimately responsible for thelong-term … consistent policy" for energy companies, Chu said. "Aclean energy portfolio standard is one example of a potential policy that theadministration and Congress should discuss. … In this time of fiscalausterity I propose such a standard." Chu said it could be viable to set astandard of 50 percent clean energy by 2050, with an intermediate target of 25percent by 2025. Chu added that 2020 was too short a timeline for nuclearenergy because of the long licensing and construction time needed for newreactors. A definition for "clean energy" could be any generationthat was able to capture 90 percent of emissions, he suggested.”

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