Energy & Environment

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.


Study ignores true cost of fossil fuels to taxpayers

As the United States temporarily postpones a potentially catastrophic blow to its credit ratings, Congress is missing a substantial opportunity to reduce obvious government misspending. I am referring to government handouts to the fossil fuel industry in the form of subsidies, tax deductions, tax credits, and cheap access to public property.  

Smaller-government advocates in Congress, who say they are committed to spending reductions, should be falling over each other to cut handouts to the most profitable companies in human history. Instead of meaningful action, however, there is a concerted effort to justify those handouts at a time when the nation’s global credit rating is at stake.


Congress needs to end its dependence on all special interest money

Noticeably absent from this week's debt ceiling deal between President Obama and Congressional Republicans were the billions in taxpayer subsidies Congress continues to dole out to Big Oil, despite overwhelming support among Americans to end these handouts and in the face of staggering oil company profits released last week. When it came to taking on Big Oil, Congress and the Obama administration blinked.
Cutting Medicare for low and middle-income seniors? On the table. Closing loopholes for profitable, multinational corporations? Not under discussion.
The world’s largest oil companies announced another round of billion dollar profits last week. BP made $5.6 billion. Shell got even more, with over $8 billion. And ExxonMobil’s profits were $10.7 billion – an astounding $117 million a day from April to June. Gas prices are still at record levels and everyday taxpayers are footing the bill for billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies these companies get every year. Big Oil is making big profits—and the American people are paying the price. In fact, we’re paying it twice – once when we fill up our tanks and once when we pay taxes.


The solid science behind E15

For more than two decades, we have been in almost continual combat operations in the Middle East over access to foreign oil. More than 40 percent of the foreign oil we import comes from nations that national security experts rank as “hostile” to U.S. interests.

Our national addiction to foreign oil has cost the lives of thousands of U.S. service men and women, and cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. A peer-reviewed study published by the journal Energy Policy calculated that taxpayers have paid more than $7.3 trillion over the last 30 years for our military to defend access to Middle Eastern oil. That’s a staggering $225 billion annually.


Crying wolf over fuel efficiency standards

In 1972, a vice president of General Motors said that requiring catalytic converters in cars would result in a "complete stoppage of production." Of course, that didn't happen. In 1966, Henry Ford II predicted that his company would "have to close down" over seat belt and safety glass standards. In 2008, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said proposed new fuel economy standards went "beyond what is technologically feasible and economically practicable." Two years later, they stood side by side with the president, endorsing those same standards, and pledging to average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Now the government is considering the next generation of fuel efficiency standards. And guess what? The automakers are at it again, predicting doom. But as an automotive technology expert, former auto company engineer and longtime observer of how efficiency and safety improvements get done, I can tell you this: Once again, they are crying wolf.

Take one of the main carmakers' talking points: They keep telling people that stringent standards require smaller, unsafe cars. There used to be some truth in that standards were easier to meet with smaller vehicles. But that's simply not true now -- and the carmakers know it.


The EPA's out-of-touch agenda

As the House debates and votes on appropriations for the Department of the Interior, much of the focus will be on the Environmental Protection Agency’s record. One thing is increasingly clear: what the Obama Administration has been unable to achieve through legislation, the EPA will enact through regulation.

The agency’s politicized agenda is sorely out of step with the American people and our national economic interests. The latest example is EPA’s waiver to allow 50 percent more ethanol in our fuel.