Energy & Environment

On ethanol, don’t bend to 'politics before science'

In our nation’s attempt to reduce dependence on foreign oil, we must be careful not to increase our reliance on politically-favored fuels that cause more problems than they solve. While this administration bulldozes forward with its agenda to increase the amount of ethanol in our gasoline, we should slow down before declaring high-ethanol gasoline the “fuel of the future.” Today the House Science Committee will mark up legislation that ensures, when it comes to decisions about our fuel, we get the science right.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it would allow the use of gasoline with 15-percent ethanol, called E15, in vehicles manufactured since 2001. In issuing this waiver, the EPA relied on findings from a single Department of Energy test, rushing E15’s introduction into the marketplace.


A price to be paid with over-regulation

For over 150 years, our nation's economy has thrived off of an efficient energy system that has provided for our basic needs. From the coal that powered the first steam engines to the petroleum that breathed life into automobiles, our forefathers have built on the technologies that have come from the demand of consumers and led to the innovations that we see today. Each generation's industry has evolved and the energy that fuels it has become cleaner and more effective. But this progress remained sustainable due to its ability to develop gradually and according to the demands of a free market.

Over the past three years, this responsible flow of progress and business development has come under attack by an administration that seeks total control over the private interests of our nation's small businesses and job creators. Through unprecedented power granted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Obama administration has sought to impose arbitrary guidelines on every entity that uses energy to create its products. This started gradually, with new mandates over carbon dioxide emissions, and now - three years later - has coalesced into a nightmare of complicated standards which have forced thousands of small businesses to devote time, money, and massive cuts to their production in order to comply with new regulations.


Blue Ribbon Commission: Disposing of our nuclear waste

Last week, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) released its final report to the Secretary of Energy detailing how the country should dispose of its nuclear waste. This week, the co-chairs, former Congressman Lee Hamilton and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft made the rounds to both the Senate and House for hearings on the issue.

This commission was tasked by President Obama in January 2010 with conducting a comprehensive review of America’s nuclear waste problem. The reason for creating this commission was that President had just fulfilled a campaign promise to close the Yucca Mountain Waste Repository in Nevada. But, closing Yucca Mountain would not address the problem of what to do with America’s nuclear waste.


The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act: Good for America

Once in a great while, a major piece of legislation comes along that can significantly change things for the better. The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act is one of them.

Nearly seven years have passed since Congress last passed a ground surface transportation bill, so the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee made the most of the opportunities provided by this new legislation.  The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act revolutionizes transportation policy by reforming and streamlining programs, cutting red tape in the project approval process, increasing states’ flexibility to fund their most critical needs and encouraging private sector participation in financing and building projects.

Here’s just one example: this bill takes more than 100 existing programs and, by consolidating redundancies and getting rid of those that only add to government bureaucracy, has whittled them down to nearly 30.


Oil shale - A vast resource that can't be dismissed

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for an all-of-the-above approach to energy as a critical part of securing this country’s future – and we agree. The United States must pursue all of its energy options – including increased domestic oil and natural gas production, coal, nuclear, renewables and more.

That includes unconventional energy sources. Certainly, the United States is realizing almost unimaginable growth in the development of oil and natural gas from shale, which is powering an economic boom in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and others.

Just a few years ago, that hardly seemed likely. Yet, the latest data from the Energy Information Administration demonstrates how technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have dramatically increased America’s natural gas potential to the point that the EIA now says the U.S. is home to the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, and that by 2035, 70 percent of the country’s gas supply will be produced by fracking from shale and tight rock formations.


Forget gas prices - It's the cost that counts

Recently, it seems the debates on Capitol Hill make even less sense than usual.

Look closely and you will find that the same politicians who demand more domestic oil production to “relieve pain at the pump”, simultaneously and inconsistently, attack the Obama administration’s efforts to increase fuel economy standards.

Take Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), for example, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee. He’s launched a needless investigation into the administration’s new mileage standards, even though they were negotiated with—not imposed upon—Detroit. Most importantly, Rep. Issa blindly ignores that boosting fuel efficiency is a sure-fire way to lower gas costs for American families.


An energy bill that Congress can and should pass

In last week's State of the Union address, President Obama issued a call to action to Congress to bring him an energy efficiency bill that will help manufacturers eliminate energy waste and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. He promised energy savings of $100 billion over the next decade, with less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs - if Congress can enact the right legislation.

What legislation could deliver these benefits?

Let me start by saying that the following ideas all embody what I believe to be the most effective role for government to play in bolstering this industry and creating jobs - creating an environment of enablement, as opposed to purely investment. Tax credits to encourage energy efficiency programs will absolutely spur action. But there are a set of more lasting initiatives the federal government can advance that will encourage businesses to drive and fund these energy efficiency programs without placing burden on taxpayers.


Commission calls for permanent nuclear waste facility

Nearly three decades since the debate over America’s high-level nuclear waste disposal began, the science remains clear that permanent geological
storage of spent fuel is superior to our present quagmire of on-site storage.

Yet in the wake of the Administration’s political blockade of an independent technical evaluation of the repository at Yucca Mountain, the resulting Blue Ribbon Commission found what many of us have long been saying about the failed management of nuclear waste. The Commission’s report correctly advises control of the Nuclear Waste Fund be removed from the purse strings of political ideologues and entrusted to “a new organization dedicated solely to implementing the waste management program” set forth under law.


Ensuring responsible practices begins with oil and gas industry

America is at a crossroads when it comes to determining our energy future.

Armed with new technology and funded by record profits, the oil and gas industry is developing new ways to find supplies: extracting natural gas by fracking; squeezing oil from dirty tar sands; erecting drilling rigs in the most remote places of our earth.

Yet today’s boom in oil and gas production also comes at a time of ever-increasing energy alternatives, from biofuels and electric cars to wind farms and concentrated solar.

As we debate the role of domestic fossil fuel resources in our energy future, there has never been a more important time for


Supercharge the economy with domestic energy

As we enter the year 2012, the battle to win the GOP presidential nomination wages on and 21 debates have come and gone, leaving very few commonalities left between the remaining candidates. There is, however, one thing that they-and all of the American people-can agree on: job creation.

It's been on our minds since 2008, but, Despite the gradual improvements in the U.S. labor market and the drop in the jobless rate to 8.5 percent in December, wrote Dr. Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, in a recent blog post, the payroll employment level of 131.9 million jobs in December is still more than six million jobs below the 137.9 million peak level when the recession started in December 2007.

However, there are three states he said that have now regained all of the jobs lost during the recession: North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.

Why? The people in these states are all benefitting from the thousands of opportunities made available in order to keep up with the abundant production of domestic energy resources, including natural gas.

America has the gas. It's ours, it's clean and it's much less expensive than oil. It just makes sense to expand its use so that the natural gas industry can play an even more vital role in our nation's recovery.

Fortunately, there is legislation before Congress that could add even more fuel to that recovery fire.