The Obama Administration’s war on carbon-based energy
A little reminder:
We are currently in the middle of a war against carbon based energy being waged by the current administration to do precisely what Obama promised as a candidate. Raise energy prices. The method is irrelevant to him. No “cap and trade”? Fine. He’ll find other ways. And that’s exactly what is happening as we speak.
For instance, via the EPA. Background – apparently the EPA released its new proposed “Cross-state Rule” on July 7th – a couple of weeks ago – after previously sending it around for comment. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on January 1st of 2012. It is 1,323 pages long. It seems they threw a new requirement into the mix that was not in the original proposed rule and that none of the energy generating owners knew was coming. It would require many to shut down. The Electric Reliability Coalition of Texas picks it up from there:
ERCOT’s May11 report to the Public Utility Commission on the impact of the proposed environmental regulations did not address the impact of SO2 restrictions on coal plants in ERCOT because these restrictions on Texas were not included as part of the EPA’s earlier rule proposal. We have not had time to fully analyze the entire 1,323-page Cross-State Rule released July 7 or to communicate with the generation owners regarding what their intentions will be. However, initial implications are that the SO2 requirements for Texas added at the last stage of the rule development will have a significant impact on coal generation, which provided 40 percent of the electricity consumed in ERCOT in 2010.
Our concern is that the timing of the new requirements – effective Jan. 1, 2012 – is unreasonable because it does not allow enough time to implement operational responses to ensure reliability. We fear that many of the coal plants in ERCOT will be forced to limit or shut down operations in order to maintain compliance with the new rule, possibly leading to inadequate operating reserve margins with insufficient time to reliably retrofit existing generation or build new, replacement generation.
So the EPA pushes out a new reg with drastic limits on SO2 that were not in the original draft of the regulation. If left unchanged it will, per ERCOT, cause many coal-fired plants to shut down or limit their generation. And with 40% of electricity generated by coal in Texas, that will be a significant loss of generating power. Texas will then have to buy what it can’t generate itself and consumer prices will do precisely what candidate Obama hoped – and planned- for them to do. Now think of this and its effect across the country.
Right in the middle of a recession (he’s not the only one trying his best to shut down coal).
Of course that isn’t the only facet of the war on carbon based energy being waged by this administration. Oil and gas also have seen what has now become to be called a “permatorium” on offshore drilling enforced by the administration. Using the Deepwater Horizon blowout as its excuse, the administration has slowed permitting to a crawl and is dragging its feet as slowly as possible to, one suspects, fulfill Obama’s desire.
Study after study have shown that opening the process back up to at least the speed in which it was previous to the accident could create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue. A real step toward jumpstarting the economy. Just yesterday another study made that very point:
Faster permitting of offshore oil and gas projects could create nearly 230,000 new jobs in 2012 and boost the economy by $44 billion, including a surge in tax revenue, according to an industry-funded study released Thursday.
The report by IHS CERA said job growth would extend beyond the Gulf Coast states, boosting employment indirectly as far away as California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Georgia.
The study, funded by the Gulf Economic Survival Team, a group of largely Louisiana-based energy and business interests, looks at data on the pace of permitting by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement through April 30.
That’s six months after the end of a federal moratorium on offshore drilling, which the government imposed after last year’s Deepwater Horizon accident killed 11 workers and triggered a 5 million-barrel oil spill.
Permit approvals take 95 percent longer now than before the spill, the study says.
You can read the study for yourself here [pdf]. But that last number is telling. There’s no reason for it. The industry has stepped up and raised the bar significantly on safety. The numbers quoted in the study projecting jobs and revenue are for 2012. What administration concerned with jobs wouldn’t leap at such low hanging fruit? This one. Compared to historical trends, pending exploration plans are up by nearly 90%, approvals are down by 85% ,and the approval process has slowed from an average of 36 to 131 days.
And there’s no reason for it.
Meanwhile, what we have is tough to get to market. Take West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil.
As for WTI, inadequate pipeline infrastructure makes it difficult to get the stuff out of North America — and that depresses its price, especially when demand is also weak. Its problems could also get worse before they get better. Output from North America is growing faster than expected. Canadian producers, for example, recently said output will grow from 2.7 million barrels a day to 3.4 million by 2014 and North Dakota production is surging. Meanwhile efforts to build new pipelines are mired in political controversy.
And they’ll remain mired in political controversy as long as this administration is in power. Slowly, but surely, a nation with huge energy resources is being strangled by a government and President who want to intentionally raise energy prices. Inadequate pipeline infrastructure means less product makes it to market. Less product in the market place means higher prices for what does make it there. Who pays? Consumers.
However, proposals and applications to build pipelines, submitted in 2008, still await action:
In September 2008 TransCanada applied to build a new pipeline — the Keystone XL — to bring diluted bitumen from the oil-rich tar sands of Alberta to thirsty American refineries on the Gulf Coast. It is hardly a radical proposal. Canadian crude has been flowing to the U.S. for decades. Another Canadian company — Enbridge — operates the Clipper pipeline across the Canadian border to Chicago. In July 2010 TransCanada began operating its Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma, which is a major storage and pricing depot…TransCanada estimates that building the pipeline will mean more than $20 billion — $13 billion from TransCanada itself — in investment and 13,000 new American jobs in construction and related manufacturing. The company also expects more than 118,000 "spin-off" jobs during the two years of construction. TransCanada says it has signed building contracts with four major U.S. unions. It projects that construction will generate $600 million in new state and local tax revenue and that over its life the pipeline will generate another $5.2 billion in property taxes. The Energy Policy Research Foundation in Washington estimates that by linking to the XL, oil producers in North Dakota’s Bakken region will enjoy efficiency gains of between $36.5 million and $146 million annually. Lower transport costs will mean savings for Gulf Coast refiners of $473 million annually if the pipeline meets conservative expectations of shipping 400,000 barrels per day.
Jobs and revenue (in addition to those previously cited in the study), there for the taking, and this administration sits and waits.
And of course, the newest controversy to hit the energy community as to be used as an excuse not to act has to do with hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. This is a 64 year old technology that has been used in the US on over a million wells. Suddenly, after news of massive new findings of natural gas in shale formations, it is a problem. And, of course, once it can be officially designated as a problem area, it must be investigated and regulated by the federal government. Complaints of ground water contamination have derailed the exploitation of these energy assets while the politicians argue, dither and delay. With those delays, again, go thousands upon thousands of potential jobs for Americans.
Name a reason for the sorry shape our economy is in and the government’s apparent refusal to aggressively move to help the energy industry create hundreds of thousands of jobs? Review that video again. It’s not long, but it plainly gives you the reason.
Is that what your government is there to do?