“4 Ways Election Results Could Intensify U.S. Energy Battles” – National Geographic, 5 November 2014

After November’s midterm elections and the newly elected Republican majority in the both houses of Congress, President Obama might have a difficult time moving forward with his climate policy agenda. Now there’s a chance that Republicans will obstruct the EPA‘s funding so that it won’t be able to enact its proposed regulations of curbing power plants emissions. Meanwhile, we might get closer to authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and repealing our 1970s crude oil export ban. Only a few days before the elections, the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change issued another report with grave warnings about the effects of climate change.

One method that Republicans can employ to hinder the Obama administration is with a joint congressional resolution of disapproval, which asks for a majority vote in favor of blocking proposed regulations. However, in order to advance their own bills, Republicans need 60 votes to stop filibusters by Senate Democrats, or a two-thirds majority to quash any of Obama’s vetoes.

Though those odds might seem unlikely, the Republicans can still play a huge hand in climate policy and the energy debate by:

  1. Further Opposing the EPA‘s Power Plant Regulations
    Previously, climate activist and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) chaired the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; however, now the position will transfer to Republican Senator James Inhofe (OK), a staunch climate denier and author of the 2012 book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.That title itself says it all. Inhofe is staunchly again the idea that climate change is caused by human activity. So it’s reasonable to assume that his goal — along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — is to block funding for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, where the EPA’s goal is to reduce existing power plants’ emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

  2. Advancing the Keystone XL Pipeline
    Another one of McConnell’s targets is the Keystone XL Pipeline — he would do whatever possible to advance the project, including strategizing a plan that would make sure the legislation would end up on Obama’s desk. Obama would then have to either approve the pipeline or use his veto power.Obama is more likely to approve the pipeline if it has no impact on emissions; according to the State Department, Keystone will not increase emissions.
  3. Increasing Fossil Fuel Exports
    Republicans are now more motivated than ever to end the circa-1970s crude oil export ban that was authorized amid the Arab oil embargo. So far, the Department of Energy has already authorized a few projects that would allow the US to export natural gas, but Republicans would like to push more through.Many Republicans and those in the oil industry contend that exporting crude could push gas prices down even more. Environmentalists assert that repealing the ban might prompt the US to generate more oil, at the cost of the environment.
  4. Introducing a Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill
    Republican Senator Rob Portman (OH) and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) have created a bipartisan bill that advocates for energy efficiency in many spheres, including residential, commercial, and federal buildings. The bill tried to get through the Senate in 2014, but was unable to because of the debate around Keystone. The bill will have another go, but might very well be blocked by Republicans who don’t support implementing rules that require stronger efficiency guidelines for appliances.

(From National Geographic)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 26, 2015

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“Shale-Oil Boom Puts Spotlight on Crude Export Ban” – 1 January 2014, Wall Street Journal

The flood of natural gas might have the US rethinking its ban on crude oil exports, which dates back to the 1970s.

The world’s biggest oil refinery is located in the US, along the Gulf Coast, and is pumping out an oversupply of crude. The abundance of oil is causing prices to crash, forcing producers to look at their other options — i.e. exporting. These last few months, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has been fighting to lift export restrictions, as is Exxon Mobil, the US’s largest energy company. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has more or less agreed, noting that the bans were instituted during the period of an energy dearth, not an abundance.

Arguments on the ban pit environmentalists, producers, consumers and the government all against each other. Proponents contend that removing the ban will boost the US’s trade deficit; opponents want to retain supplies in the US so that we rely less on the Middle East; others worry about the negative effects of increased drilling on the environment and climate.

The US currently exports coal, electricity, gasoline, diesel and natural gas — everything, it seems, but crude. Crude production is on an upswing in the US, largely due to shale formations located in Texas and North Dakota. It’s predicted that these formations will generate around 7.7 million barrels/day in 2014, and, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), set to grow by 24% to 9.6 million barrels/day in 2019. The onslaught of oil could drive down prices, ultimately slowing the nation’s energy boom.

The only way Congress is likely to immediately act is if the ban induces layoffs of energy workers. Regardless, any revisions to the law won’t be immediate. But the new year might just be Exxon’s, and other major energy companies’, year.

We believe that US oil companies should be allowed to export crude oil as a tool lower trade deficit, and increase export-related high paying domestic jobs.

See also:
Exxon Presses for Exports

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 3, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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