Energy & Environment

Sound science can protect agriculture and endangered species

In a recent address at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), President Obama promised to shield science from political maneuvering and ideological agendas that too often undermine the integrity of the scientific process and taint public policy. “In all the sciences we have to make sure that we are supporting the idea that they aren’t subject to politics; they are not skewed by an agenda … that we make sure we go where the evidence leads us.” 

Just one day after Obama’s remarks there, the NAS released a new report showcasing a scientific and regulatory train wreck in U.S. agriculture that affects federal regulation of crop protection products essential to American food production. The contentious issue has captured the attention of the House Agriculture and House Natural Resources Committees.  


The president’s legacy on energy

The United States is in a new and unique position: not only does it have the capacity for energy self-reliance, but also the ability to export energy. This enviable situation provides President Obama with an opportunity that could shape his legacy by creating more American jobs, strengthening our economy, and being a positive influence on the global stage.

All over the world, as populations and economies grow, the thirst for energy — especially fossil fuels — continues to rise. And those nations with abundant natural gas, oil and coal reserves have a marked advantage over others struggling to harness their energy potential or lacking recoverable resources altogether.

These emerging nations are forced to buy energy off a global market that, more and more, is controlled by totalitarian regimes that could potentially use their resources as a weapon. Specifically, nations like Russia, Iran and Venezuela have a history of shutting off, or threatening to shut off, natural gas and petroleum to nations that have fallen out of their favor. This triumvirate has the ability to freeze out any nation it chooses. And doing so could upset the fragile global marketplace leading to price spikes that would affect all consumers — no matter where they reside.


Gov. Hickenlooper a bad example on oil-and-gas issues

The cozy relationship between politicians and big business has been a fact of life in America since the days of the robber barons. Today, this affiliation is especially strong between certain governors and the oil and gas industry. And, the consequences could include drastic impacts on the health and safety of their constituents. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Given that Colorado is the epicenter of both the gas boom and the controversy over its impacts, the governor has become a leading national figure on oil and gas. Earlier this year, Hickenlooper appeared in front of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing and stated that he drank fracking fluid, implying that it’s safe. Shortly after, he was forced to clarify that what he drank isn’t actually used commercially, stating that: “I don’t think there’s any frack fluid right now that I’m aware of that people are using commercially that you want to drink.”
It turns out that this wasn’t the last time that the governor would go to bat for the oil-and-gas industry.


Calling Big Oil’s bluff

Big Oil is back to its old tricks, this time trying to convince Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency that the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) cannot work and should be eliminated.


Small Businesses Need The Keystone Pipeline

Small Business owners are concerned about the threat of rising fuel and energy costs. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey, 77 percent of small businesses say that rising energy prices pose an immediate threat to their business. The Chamber’s survey shows that 80 percent feel that the administration is not doing enough to keep gas prices low, increase domestic energy sources, or develop an energy policy that supports American jobs. The United States can do a number of things to ease these concerns but one in particular stands out from the rest.


Consumers, economy and environment lose with Renewable Fuel Standard

It is quite a shock when an industry, built by taxpayer dollars and surviving on government support, touts the importance of fair competition. Clearly, advocates of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its biofuel blending mandates lack a basic understanding of how markets work here in the United States. Worse still, they feign ignorance and completely deny that their bread-and-butter policy is dealing a blow to our economy — raising costs for fuel, food and engine repairs for consumers, constraining vital American industries and failing in its goal of protecting the environment.


Energy - what a waste!

As much energy as the United States consumes, it’s nothing compared to how much energy we allow to go to waste.

Amazingly, almost two-thirds of energy produced is going to waste, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 2011, EIA estimated that the equivalent of 39 quadrillion British Thermal Units (“quads”) of electricity was generated from a variety of sources: natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, and renewables.  Of the 39 quads, only about one-third was actually used for residential, commercial and industrial uses; the other two-thirds of electricity was wasted -- lost due to inefficiencies and waste in transmission lines, the electrical distribution grid, and end-use of electricity in homes and businesses.


Ag-Gag laws seek to put factory farms off-limits to whistle-blowers

It really has become the age of the whistle-blower.  Perhaps it was the 9/11 wakeup call that we live in a more dangerous world.  Maybe we no longer trust the government to look out for us the way we think it should.  Or maybe it is simply about corporate plunder and the ever-widening gulf between the haves and have-nots.  Whatever it is, a new mindset pervades -- where getting involved is the right thing to do; where if you see something you are supposed to say something.  And with this new outlook has come some significant additional prodding from a host of newly energized laws that for virtually every industry sweeten the pot considerably for those willing to stand up and be heard.

When it comes to factory farms, however, the legislative tide seems to be moving in the exact opposite direction.  That is because of a set of laws being pushed across the country which not only discourages whistle-blowers from coming forward.  It actually threatens them with jail time if they do.


The Case for Keystone XL Goes Beyond Jobs and Energy Independence

For anyone who’s been following the Keystone XL debate, it’s by now common knowledge that the 1200-mile pipeline is being touted by proponents of energy independence as an important step forward.  It’s also no secret that Keystone XL will create jobs – lots of jobs.