Energy & Environment

We must get BP settlement structure right

Tragically, 11 men lost their lives on April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil platform burst into flames. We continued to feel the tragic effects of that across southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast as the oil flowed from the well in astounding quantities for months, and significant environmental damage and economic devastation followed.
Three years later, the good news is that the Gulf is rebounding physically. Mother Nature truly is an awesome, powerful — and in this case healing — force. Economically, our tourism and energy industries are also rebounding. And our Gulf seafood is as safe and delicious as ever, though some buyers outside the region don’t fully understand that.


Environmentalists shouldn't side with Big Oil against biofuels

There’s a fight for the future of American motor fuels – renewable fuels versus fossil fuels. Environmentalists shouldn’t have much trouble deciding which side they’re on.

After all, the major source of greenhouse gas emissions is fossil fuel combustion. That mostly means running cars, trucks, and other vehicles with petroleum products such as gasoline.

If you don’t want to spew more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, there’s really only alternative fuel – ethanol. There is no other fuel available at scale today that matches ethanol’s ability to improve overall environmental quality, compared to gasoline.


Seismic testing will inform sound energy decisions

During the 2012 campaign, President Obama talked often of his “all of the above” energy strategy and the desire to make science-based decisions with regard to energy and environmental policy. It is wise to incorporate the latest science and technology to pursue every energy option we have, and that includes exploring the Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS). In order to do that, the Obama administration needs to complete the long-delayed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will inform how best to proceed with a safe and environmentally protective seismic assessment of the oil and natural gas resources beneath federal waters in the Atlantic.


New EPA Administrator should seek to improve relationships with industry

The recent decision by President Barack Obama to nominate Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency is an opportunity for the White House to try and repair the rift that has grown between industry and the Democratic Party. Regardless of who’s to blame for the split between business and the White House, the resulting lack of economic growth hurts millions of Americans who need jobs.


Nuclear non-proliferation obligations must be honored

Twenty-five years ago, the United States and the former Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at each other. But doomsday was averted in 1993 when the newly-formed Russian Federation signed an agreement to harness the huge amount of energy contained in nuclear-weapons materials for the production of electricity.
Under the agreement, the U.S. offered a financial incentive to the Russians to dismantle their weapons and dilute uranium to a lower level of enrichment that could be used as fuel in U.S. nuclear power plants. So far nearly 500 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium from dismantled Soviet warheads has been eliminated.


Biofuels cuts harmful to energy security

Gas prices these days are far higher than they should be for this time of year, costing Pennsylvanians at the pump and creating a headache for politicians. The good news is that we already have a fuel technology that is cheaper than gasoline, cleaner than oil, and most importantly for me, comes from right here in the USA. It’s renewable fuel.

As a former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, I know firsthand that how we fuel our vehicles affects more than our pocketbooks – it affects how well we protect our country. Luckily, the military is leading the way to develop the next generation of clean, renewable fuels. The Navy is using advanced biofuels, derived from sources like recycled waste oil and algae, to power its ships and aircraft. These fuels promise to cut us loose from a dependence on oil that reduces our military’s readiness and costs billions more than we ought to be paying.


Budget theater with a familiar script - energy taxes

Recently, Washington will attempt to step away from its growing tradition of fiscal stalemate and – for the first time since 2009 – move a budget resolution through both houses of Congress. On the surface, this represents a genuine opportunity to return to the nearly forgotten “regular order,” and chart a course for managing the federal government that, someday, both parties could support.

Someday, maybe. But if history is a guide – not likely today.


Raising the game for energy efficiency

President Barack Obama later this week will focus on his goal to secure America’s energy future with efforts to find new fuel sources, invest in the development of alternative energy and use our resources more efficiently. The cleanest and lowest cost way to meet our energy needs is to consume less. Strong financial paybacks are the biggest incentives for state and federal governments to raise the game by putting the right tools and policies in place to increase investment in energy efficiency, which will save money, produce jobs and reduce carbon pollution.


Fix the broken biofuels mandate

It’s time to face facts: the biofuels mandate Congress established in 2005 is creating too much bad biofuel and not enough good biofuel.

This year, that mandate requires American refiners to use 13.8 billion gallons of corn ethanol – more than they can actually blend into their gasoline.

By contrast, fuel makers are expected to generate only a little more than 5 million gallons of non-food-based biofuels that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many doubt whether the industry can hit this target.


Renewable fuels: Due for a reality check

A growing chorus of congressional voices are calling for revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Proposals by Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.) to limit or repeal the standard have been joined by bills from Sens. Wicker (R-Miss.) and Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) that would cap the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline at ten percent.

These efforts come on the heels of pleas from 10 governors, nearly 200 members of Congress and diverse businesses groups from around the country calling for administrative waivers of ethanol requirements. However, these appeals have been largely denied by the EPA, which is holding to a strict interpretation of the stringent and expansive RFS mandate that Congress enacted in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.