Energy & Environment

Memo to Congress and candidates: American biofuels boost job creation

From Capitol Hill to the campaign trail, the top three issues are jobs, jobs and jobs. For all the nation’s economic problems, public officials and political candidates don’t need to rack their brains for untested schemes for reinventing the economy. Many quintessentially American industries with proven records of job creation hold the promise of exponential job growth if given a chance. American ethanol is one such industry, and it deserves a fresh look and strong support.

While Americans are understandably concerned with the near-double-digit national unemployment rate, less attention is being paid to positive news about regional and local economies, especially in the nation’s heartland. The Midwest is home to the three states with the lowest unemployment rates in the nation – North Dakota, Nebraska, and South Dakota -- and three more states in the top 15 -- Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. Further, the latest Gallup job creation index shows three Midwest states -- North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska -- in the top 10, with North Dakota in the top spot.

Much of this Midwestern jobs boom is rooted in energy production, particularly renewable energy, such as ethanol, which has surged in recent years. In the past decade, the ethanol industry has grown from 50 biorefineries producing 1.8 billion gallons of fuel per year to more than 200 facilities producing nearly 14 billion gallons.


World bank weighs in on U.S. tax code, fossil fuel 'subsidies'

A newly leaked World Bank report calls on 24 OECD countries to boost tax burdens on their oil and gas sectors—eventually by as much as $40-$60 billion annually—in order to funnel part of the money raised to carbon-trading and other environmental concerns.
This would include the World Bank’s Clean Development Mechanism—a program that has even elicited howls of criticism from carbon-emission-trading supporters for not being sufficiently harsh on traditional energy sources. This effort precedes last year’s pledge by G20 countries, including the United States, to scrap so-called fossil fuel “subsidies.”
The World Bank should know better that politics and policy often clash when it comes to energy production, having come under fire itself last year when it provided $3.75 billion to finance a giant coal plant in South Africa. U.S. taxpayers also have legitimate questions over how many (or whether any) of their dollars should be sunk into multilateral lending institutions associated with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. And while several developing nations do subsidize fuel consumption through price ceilings on everyday items like cooking oil and gasoline, OECD countries conversely tax oil and gas far more than they subsidize it.


Congress must act now to stop filthy factory farming of the sea

It’s not every summer that a fish lands on the cover of TIME Magazine. But that’s just what happened this July, signaling that the future of our nation’s fisheries has become a pressing issue to be seriously debated among the federal government, environmental and consumer groups and of course, fishermen. Unfortunately, this debate was heating up at a time when Congress was mostly focused on issues like the debt ceiling – and right before they left town for congressional summer vacations.

Now that the summer is over, it’s time for Congress to weigh in.

“There's no denying that aquaculture [fish farming] can be messy,” the TIME story acknowledged. “A badly run near-shore farm of 200,000 salmon can flush nitrogen and phosphorus into the water at levels equal to the sewage from a town of 20,000 people.”


BP: One year later, Americans continue to pay the price

In September 2010, engineers successfully capped BP’s ruptured Deepwater Horizon oil rig, after it spilled estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This month, one year after a milestone in the worst environmental disaster in America’s history, its effects continue to devastate the region’s economy and the families who live there.

Adding insult to these American’s injuries, BP was able to write-off a whopping $13 billion of its clean-up costs on its taxes, forcing American families to pay the tab for the damage the oil company created.

This summer, an ExxonMobil pipeline rupture polluted at least 10 miles of Montana’s Yellowstone River. And like BP, lawyers and politicians will make sure that Americans pay the damages by permitting the world’s most profitable corporation to write-off clean up costs on its taxes.

That’s in addition to the $15 billion Americans pay every year in taxpayer-funded subsidies and special tax breaks to the oil and gas industry.


American energy can create jobs

America needs energy. America needs jobs. A way to get them both is right under our feet.
A recent report by the National Petroleum Council says the United States has a more abundant supply of oil and natural gas than previously believed. The report concludes that by 2035 America could be producing 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil per day from shale formations, including the Bakken shale in North Dakota and Montana and the Eagle Ford shale in Texas.
The Sept. 15 report forecasts that under the most optimistic assumptions, America and Canada combined could produce up to 22.5 million barrels of oil per day, if the U.S. lifts regulatory barriers. This would allow America to reduce its reliance on oil from other parts of the world.
The National Petroleum Council study is consistent with a study issued Sept. 7 by Wood Mackenzie for the American Petroleum Institute. That study concluded that 1.1 million new American jobs could be created by 2020 if regulatory reforms are adopted to give American companies greater access to the treasure trove of oil and natural gas buried under our nation and off our shores.


An 'open' and shut case for an enduring American energy policy: The infallibility of free markets underscores the philosophy for FuelChoiceNow

Over the course of time, free and open markets have proven infallible in their ability to reward winning products and technologies, and quickly leave behind those that cannot compete. Free and open markets have a perfect record. They are never wrong.

As brutal as this Darwinist reality may be, it represents an implicit compact with which innovators are comfortable. It’s a fair system. It rewards successful risk takers and punishes those with inferior products. And it speeds the rate at which the best solutions gain share of market and share of mind.

In a truly competitive marketplace, no one is precluded from bringing forward new solutions. As such, free and open markets allow fantastic successes for a few and spectacular failures for many. But in return, a real marketplace fuels groundbreaking new technologies, provides consumers with a choice and fairer prices, and winnows the losers more quickly, thereby clearing space in the market for another wave of innovation and American ingenuity.

Unfortunately, this distinctly American vision does not seem to be the aspiration of the current energy policy dialogue. Instead of creating a marketplace in which innovation can emerge, we engage in a perpetual debate about which fuel is best that only perpetuates the far worse outcome of remaining dependent on foreign oil.


NAT GAS Act: Déjà vu all over again

When it comes to unchecked government spending and misguided energy policies, it seems that Congress cannot escape channeling Yogi Berra’s oft-quoted remark, “it’s deja vu all over again.”  The latest Congressional boondoggle concerns the NAT GAS Act, which will be addressed at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on September 22. 
Some background first: the proposed law offers between $5 billion and $9 billion in tax subsidies—although there is no cap on maximum spending in the law—to encourage businesses to convert their vehicles to natural gas, despite the fact that many companies are already doing this doing on their own.  Proponents of the law argue that using cleaner burning natural gas will help the environment and that it will improve the nation’s energy security, but a closer look reveals these demand-centric subsidies will lead to expensive consequences for consumers, taxpayers, workers and employers across the board. 


Clean energy: Alive, well - and in need of support

We are making truly transformational change in America.

At New York's Empire State Building, we're cutting $4.4 million annually in wasted energy, creating new jobs and reducing pollution along the way.

In Nevada, we're building a new type of hybrid power plant that uses both solar and geothermal energy to provide emissions-free electricity to local homes and businesses using only the sun and the earth's natural heat.

And in San Francisco, we've started a new type of bank that links depositors and investors with green-energy entrepreneurs who share the common cause of trying to make the world a better place.

The clean energy industry is alive and well and growing. Companies big and small, like ours and thousands of others across America, are proof of that.


Protect winter

As school starts and the evenings get a bit cooler, it’s a reminder that winter isn’t too far behind.  Since we were kids, this has signaled the transition to the most exciting season of the year.  As professional snowboarders, it means gearing up for a long event season, but it also means reengaging in the sport that is our identity and our passion. We’re not alone. More than 12 million winter sports enthusiasts will visit the mountains this season in the United States. They’re buying new gear and booking hotels and picking out places to
eat. These 59 million skier visits pump $6 billion dollars annually into the communities we call home.

As these skiers and snowboarders make their travel plans to hit the slopes, we have made our own plans to visit the nation’s capital this week to make sure we continue to have the season we love. We want to keep coming back to snow-covered mountains just as much as we want to see those employed in shops, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on our sport to keep their jobs.

We cannot shake this uneasy feeling that winter, as we know it, is on borrowed time. Even though the world's scientific community has spoken unequivocally on the realities and implications of climate change, America’s political leadership has failed us. The Environmental Protection Agency is under attack, with too many using the ill-informed excuse that environmental regulations kill jobs.  But we know that without broad policy action by the U.S. government, the joys of winter – and the jobs that go along with it – may become a thing of the past.


Time to stop the EPA's war on job creation

The White House last week touted its plans to streamline regulations and save businesses $10 billion over the next five years. And it promises that similar review efforts will continue. In the Wall Street Journal, regulatory czar Cass Sunstein wrote that the White House Chief of Staff told federal agencies to “prioritize regulatory actions that promote economic growth and job creation.”

This message needs to make its way to the top, and the President must put a stop to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory war on job-creating businesses. That agency’s agenda is a direct threat to economic growth and job creation. Saving $10 billion is little consolation when trillions in new regulatory costs are on the horizon.

Any serious strategy to create jobs has to address the EPA’s agenda—and the President is in a position to do just that. The EPA has proposed a number of new and revised regulations that would harm job growth and do long-term damage to our economy. Millions of Americans are out of work, and the EPA is undeterred in going forward with an agenda that will make new jobs even more scarce in this country.