Energy & Environment

Getting the Gulf back to work: Let's remove idle oil drilling structures (Rep. Raul Grijalva)

According to a recent analysis, there are more than 1,000 oil rigs and drilling structures sitting idle in the Gulf of Mexico. These structures have not been affected by the recently announced drilling moratorium -- rather, they were abandoned by their owners, sometimes many years ago, and allowed to decay or collapse into the ocean. These structures, commonly referred to as "idle iron," now provide us with a unique chance to create jobs and open up future economic opportunities throughout the Gulf region.


The demise of the spill bill (Sen. Lisa Murkowski)

The decision this week by the Majority Leader to table oil spill legislation was deeply disappointing to everyone who wanted to see constructive policy come out of the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 100 days have passed since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank to the ocean floor. What we’ve learned in that time has made clear that our offshore energy regulations need reforming. Even though this has been a difficult year for the Senate, I had faith this disaster would bring us together to pass responsible legislation. 


Ethanol: Now is the time — for truth

Editorialists around the country are opining about tax incentives for ethanol that are expiring at the end of the year. Unfortunately, many of the articles we’re seeing don’t get the facts quite right. The New York Times, for example, asserts that the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates the U.S. production of up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol, which it does not. The RFS is silent on corn as a feedstock and silent on domestic production. (


Standing in the way of justice for the BP calamity: GOP puts political points above all else

On August 3rd, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV scuttled plans to debate the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Spill Accountability Act, S. 3663, which would remove the ridiculously low liability cap of $75 million for damages from the BP oil disaster and other offshore oil drilling blow outs. Reid did this because he could not get a supermajority of 60 votes to allow commencement of debate on the bill. He said that he tried “jujitsu and yoga” to gain Republican support but to no avail.


How bad does it have to be?

H. Sterling Bennett’s column Wednesday (“More Hype than Harm”) claims the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t that bad. He says the environmental movement “is in absence of good evidence” when we call this BP oil disaster a massive catastrophe and horrible tragedy. 

Eleven men died. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. Vast quantities of untested chemical dispersants have been dumped into the sea. Tens of millions of dollars in tourism and fishing revenues are gone. Thousands of fishing industry workers have lost their livelihoods.

So, how bad does it have to be?


Creating a customer-first electricity transmission policy

Utilities across the nation are investing billions of dollars to produce more electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

They support the move toward a cleaner energy future because the benefits — including lower greenhouse gas emissions, more green jobs and improved energy security — are clear.

What's less clear is how utilities will get new supplies of clean electricity to customers. And most importantly, who will pay for the major transmission investments needed to move the energy?


Lessons from the Horizon blowout: More hype than harm

Only two weeks after BP began capping the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout, people have begun to ask, “Where’s the oil?” The fact that skimmer ships sent out to clean the water of oil are unable to find oil to clean is leading the mainstream media to question whether  environmentalists tried to exploit this unfortunate event by making it seem worse than it really was for political reasons.


Gulf Coast can't afford another disaster (Rep. Bill Cassidy)

Two man-made disasters have hit the Gulf Coast: the BP oil spill and the president’s moratorium on energy production. A third disaster is scheduled for a vote in the House today.

Two hundred twenty-six days before the Deepwater Horizon rig collapsed, the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act was introduced in the House. A repackaged version is now being sold as a response to the BP oil spill.

This bill has much less to do with preventing another spill than it does preventing domestic energy production and destroying jobs.


The economics of U.S. ethanol policy: A rebuttal

In his July 27 blog posting “The economics of U.S. ethanol policy” Professor Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University reports the results of new research suggesting that allowing the current 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol blender’s tax credit (Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, or VEETC) and 54-cent-per-gallon ethanol tariff to expire on Dec. 31, 2010 would have little or no adverse impact on the domestic ethanol industry.

That’s true only if you take a “Field of Dreams” view of the ethanol industry: If we mandate that Americans use more ethanol, then someone, somewhere will produce that ethanol.


The fading call of the wild

They are cultural icons as symbols of strength, agility, speed and grace.  They hold special places in music, art, theater and film.  Phrases that Americans use every day illustrate their ubiquity; we know what people mean when something is described as 'fast as a cheetah,' 'proud as a lion' or 'hungry as a wolf.'  They are regarded as important touchstones in this country despite the fact that many Americans have never seen one of them in the wild.

Yet many species of wild cats and canids remain perilously close to extinction.