Energy & Environment

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.


Continued progress in advanced biofuels relies on the RFS

There is widespread agreement among experts, policy makers and the public that the United States must overcome its addiction to fossil fuels to protect the environment and for reasons of national security. As in any addiction, interventions are necessary to break bad habits. Fortunately, in 2007 Congress expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring increased production and use of renewable fuels from multiple sources. American companies are making steady progress in creating advanced plant-based fuels. But this progress could be threatened by political uncertainty about continuing the RFS mandate.

Despite the clear intention of Congress to create the RFS, it took until March 2010 for the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize lengthy rules for administering the law. That interval coincided with economic recession, emergency economic stabilization measures to prevent bank failures, and oil prices that rose above $140 per barrel and then dropped below $40. Advanced biofuel companies, like other enterprises deploying new technology, face enormous challenges in raising the necessary capital for commercial-scale production – which were intensified in the recent challenging economic conditions. Still, many have made significant strides in making investments to commercialize advanced biofuel technology.


Ozone standards: Good for the public, good for the economy

Millions of Americans live in areas with smog levels that are unhealthy and violate common sense, public health standards. That doesn’t have to be. In fact, we can change that, and change that fast.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to issue rules any day now to strengthen protections against ozone, a primary ingredient in smog. The key question is whether the Obama Administration will adopt a sufficiently strong enough standard to genuinely protect the most vulnerable among us—infants, children and the elderly—or whether it will bend to the will of old line, polluting industries who care more about short-term profits than long-term public health.


The strategic energy choices we need to make

Thirty-seven years ago, President Richard Nixon announced a national goal that by “the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes, and to keep our transportation moving.”
Since this 1974 State of the Union address some sort of ‘energy independence’ has been a stated policy of every Presidential administration, but the United States though has not come anywhere near ‘energy independence.’
Today, we have an opportunity to set on a road to achieve these goals.


Administration energy doublespeak

The Obama administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to energy policy. During a visit to Anchorage, Alaska, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Obama administration supports more oil drilling. Pointing to a conditional permit to allow four exploratory wells to be drilled off the coast of Alaska, Salazar told a group of Alaskan business leaders that the President's feeling toward Arctic offshore drilling is, "Let's take a look at what's up there and see what it is we can develop."

Of course, what he didn’t say is that this is the same administration that killed similar drilling plans in 2010 and revoked a major source air quality permit that was already granted by the EPA. So here we are, two years and billions of dollars later, in the exact same place in the process. In other words, were it not for the administration stonewalling the permitting process, we could already be creating desperately needed jobs and be well on the way towards bringing more Alaskan oil to the market.


Will the energy industry get fracking right? The future of natural gas depends on it

Even the most seasoned corporate management teams can confuse impossible risk with highly improbable risk. Think of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout, Fukushima core meltdown and Yellowstone River oil spill. The failure of the companies involved in these incidents to anticipate the risks — and to implement preemptive protective measures — led to enormous financial, reputational and environmental consequences.


Business voice: EPA protects health, spurs job creation in clean energy sector

Charged with protecting our land, air and water, the Environmental Protection Agency is also doing two other important things: protecting public health and creating new jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency. 

The clean energy and energy efficiency sectors are among the fastest growing segments of the nation’s economy. They are putting people back to work and attracting new opportunities and investments to countless communities across the nation, including in Michigan, the home state of Congressman Fred Upton, whose attacks against the EPA are as misinformed as they are misguided (The Hill, 08/05/11).


We demand a decision on the Keystone pipeline extension

Imagine this: you come up with a business plan. You raise the funds to get it started and you file applications for all of the legally-required permits.

Then, you start to wait for a decision on your permits. You wait a year. You start to wonder what is taking so long with the permit evaluations.

You wait another year. You notice that similar projects are receiving their permits, though you haven’t. You wait a third year and you still don’t receive a determination on your permits. The entire time you’re waiting, you’re dedicating time and precious financial resources to making certain your project remains viable.   
Well, now you can relate to the people who planned the Keystone pipeline extension. In September of 2008, the extension’s developer filed an Application for a Presidential Permit with the State Department (required because the pipeline extension crosses the U.S.-Canadian border). The developer still hasn’t received a decision on the permit, and the project remains in limbo. All other cross-border pipelines have been approved within an 18 to 24 month time frame, but the Keystone extension continues to wait for President Obama’s verdict.  


New gas mileage standards will boost the economy

By setting an average standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 for passenger vehicles, the Obama administration has done right by America’s economy.

Higher gas mileage and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards will spur innovation, create jobs and save drivers money at the pump. They’ll lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and make our economy less susceptible to the destabilizing swings of the international oil market.

A new economic analysis by Management Information Services Inc. drives home these benefits. The report, “More Jobs Per Gallon,” details what stronger mileage and greenhouse gas standards will really mean for our economy. Its conclusions are clear: the stronger the fuel efficiency standards, the greater the economic benefits.