Energy & Environment

Unleash our domestic energy

As we approach the peak driving months of summer, gasoline prices are nearly $4 a gallon – double the cost when President Obama took office. It’s no coincidence that American workers and families are still struggling through the weakest economic recovery and highest sustained joblessness since the Great Depression. High energy costs are keeping our country in the economic doldrums.
 
The president likes to remind us that he doesn’t control the price of gasoline. He blames the Japanese earthquake, Middle East unrest, and conspiracies by wily speculators and greedy oil companies. The American people don’t expect their President to halt earthquakes. They simply ask that he try to protect our families and businesses from price spikes and supply disruptions with the opportunities he does have. Unfortunately, the president is unwilling to do so.

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Coal ash bill protects environment, preserves jobs

Today our nation faces an economic climate in which our national debt is headed toward a record $17 trillion dollars. If we continue on this path, America will meet the fate countries like Greece, Italy and Portugal are now facing.

Let’s put this into terms to which we all can relate:  $17 trillion is a debt that exceeds all the worth of our country’s production. If our government’s spending were like that of a family, the collection calls and overdue bills would have long ago caused families to cut spending. The country’s financial woes are severe and we don’t need to make it worse.

Consequently, the last thing we need is to add hundreds of thousands of workers to the unemployment lines and an increase in road, bridge and infrastructure costs. That’s what is being predicted to happen if coal ash is designated as a hazardous material by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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National Ocean Policy makes smart business sense

At this moment, thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars are on the line. The United States’ offshore wind sector has the potential to employ tens of thousands of workers. But if some lawmakers have their way – blocking implementation of the National Ocean Policy – it would hamper the ability to fulfill the tremendous potential that offshore wind energy has for our country.
 
Deepwater Wind is working to develop this new and sustainable ocean use by building utility-scale offshore wind projects in the Northeast, delivering clean, renewable energy at cost-effective prices.  Building these projects creates not just clean power for markets that need it, but also a new marine industry and jobs for an entire region.

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Increasing our national security with new technology

The United States military is the single largest purchaser of petroleum fuel in the world, burning through about 325,000 barrels of fuel per day. Almost all of that fuel is derived from oil. This is important not because of the vast carbon footprint (or boot print) that the military has – a separate, and important problem. It is actually the dependence on oil that presents the military with a long-term strategic risk.
 
Although today the military is able to buy fuel for operations anywhere around the world, access to oil is not guaranteed in the future. Finite global reserves of oil means that some time in the future, oil may become physically more difficult to acquire, no matter the price. Related to that risk, the military, like all consumers in the U.S., relies on oil from countries that do not align with our interests. This affects our foreign policy and undermines our national security. It also means that, in a shooting war, when our fighting men and women need access to fuel to effectively fight, we may not be able to guarantee access to the fuel we need. We can no longer afford totake it as a given that oil will always be available.

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Why National Ocean Policy is flawed

Missing from much of the debate regarding President Obama’s executive order for a National Ocean Policy (NOP) is the fact that legislative attempts to create this new bureaucracy were regularly defeated by the House going back to the 108th Congress. No companion bill was every debated before the Senate or Senate committee, and the House version of this overreaching national policy never made it to the floor.

Mind you, this was not partisan gridlock which stymied this big government policy directive, but a coalition of Democrats and Republicans alike who would not support movement of this flawed legislation. In member debate before the bipartisan House Natural Resources Committee, the original NOP bill (known as “Oceans 21”) was called “bad legislation” being pushed by “an overzealous group of people” opposed to fishing. Committee members criticized the legislation for "creating a new bureaucracy and potentially costing taxpayers more money,” while one of the longest tenured Democrats on the committee even expressed concern for “unintended consequences for fisheries management” should the bill move forward.

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Balancing on a tight resource rope

Conventional wisdom tells us that the U.S. oil-and-gas boom is a welcomed turn of events — especially in the Midwest’s heavily industrialized and economically struggling Rust Belt states, tight shale oil and gas appear to be new varieties of precious black gold.

In Ohio and its neighboring states, residents have suffered through decades of downturn. The region’s specialization in processing raw materials for manufacturing had faded away. Prosperity is now returning, though slowly, to the Midwest economy in the form of resources buried deeply in the disconnected fissures of the Utica, Marcellus and Devonian shale. Conventional thinking is unlikely to question the wisdom of this energy windfall.

Unconventional thinking, however, raises red flags in the conventional wisdom. Will the U.S. oil-and-gas boom bolster energy and economic security? Maybe. But there are risks.

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Embracing the shale revolution

If there is one conclusion that should be drawn from the boom in U.S. natural gas production, it is that supplies are so abundant that it makes economic sense to export some of our gas to countries overseas. No one could have imagined that possibility even a few years ago when the United States was actually importing natural gas, with much of it arriving on LNG tanker ships.
 
Today America is completely self-sufficient in natural gas. In fact, we produce more gas than we can use, and soon we will not have enough room to store the surplus gas.  Even now, some of the gas produced as a byproduct of oil drilling must be burned off or “flared” as a waste product until customers can be found to buy it.

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Keystone XL: Against our national security

The House of Representatives once again is trying to force the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline down our throats and through the heart of our country - this time by attaching approval for it to a federal transportation bill and claiming the Canadian pipeline will help our national security.
 
Don’t buy it.
 
Truth is, the longer the United States remains dependent on fossil fuels – no matter where it comes from– the longer our nation’s security will be vulnerable.

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Account for the cost of carbon emissions

While American politicians worry about how high gas prices are perceived by voters, Mexico is actually doing something to free their country from risky fossil fuels. Our southern neighbors are poised to approve ambitious climate change legislation, any day now, that will give them an edge in the race to produce renewable energy and create green jobs, while reducing carbon pollution.

Unfortunately, in the United States, efforts to tackle climate-related issues have stalled, even if the impacts of inaction, such as more severe and more frequent extreme weather events, have not. Last year, 47 of the 50 states were forced to declare a state of emergency in response to climate-related weather disasters, racking up $72 billion dollars in damages.

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Federal investment in innovation drives leadership in space

In a Hill editorial on March 27, Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) stated that since the retirement of the space shuttle last year, America has fallen behind in the battle for the ultimate high ground — space. He pointed to China’s plans for an increased number of rocket launches and its ambitions for more sophisticated Earth satellites and exploration of the Moon in stating that NASA is falling behind. These metrics, however, do not define the high ground or our nation’s technological capability to efficiently utilize this domain. Preeminence in space, and the economic and national security implications that follow, are not simply measured in terms of a number of rocket launches, but rather by the depth and breadth of a nation’s space capabilities and the skill and expertise of personnel that flexibly adapt these capabilities to new missions and new frontiers.

This century will be won by those who innovate, seek breakthroughs and develop new technologies and new industries. Reaching for grand technological challenges, engineers and scientists across this country stand on the cusp of dramatic advances in materials, information technology, energy and biomedical science. These breakthroughs provide lasting societal benefits and are a catalyst to America’s high-tech economy. The aerospace sector is no different. According to a December 2011 report of the Aerospace Industries Association, U.S. aerospace sales marked their eight consecutive year of growth and U.S. aerospace exports are up 12 percent with a positive trade balance of $57.4 billion — the largest trade surplus of any U.S. manufacturing industry. In aerospace, we lead the world. This industry is a job-creator, a technological innovator (e.g., GPS, CMOS imaging sensors, stealth technology, unmanned aerial vehicles and the Weather Channel) and provides a critical advantage to our nation’s economy and security. The aerospace sector is driven by new ideas, innovation and technology, and NASA is the lifeblood of many of these innovations.

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