Energy and Commerce to improve regulatory process
Looking to rein in an already out of control and unaccountable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and aloof Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin its mark-up tomorrow of H.R. 1582, Energy Consumers Relief Act and H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. Less than a month ago, President Obama unveiled his second term energy agenda in a speech at Georgetown University that will empower the government agency to set broad and costly measures on job creators and energy producers. Fortunately, the House has opted to go a different route.
The Energy Consumers Relief Act will require the EPA to provide a detailed cost benefit analysis of rules costing more than a $1 billion dollars and seek input from the Secretary of Energy on new rules. One of the ways the EPA downplays the cost of its regulations is by not accounting for their compounding effect on consumers and energy producers. Forcing the EPA to accurately calculate the effect of its regulations is not only a commonsense transparency measure, but will protect consumers from the agency’s billion-dollar regulations.
The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act will require the FERC to approve or deny a certificate for public convenience and necessity within one year of public notice of the application. This legislation does not require FERC to approve all natural gas pipelines, but provides regulatory certainty to developers in the form of a regulatory backstop.
The United States possesses vast potential when it comes domestic energy. While the President continues to look for ways to increase the cost of energy and thereby swell the unemployment lines, the House has passed numerous energy bills that create jobs, reduce burdensome regulation, and promote domestic energy production. Perhaps the administration should try to do the same.
Gasland II Premiers
Filmmaker Josh Fox attempts to go to the well once more with Gasland II and tries to derail the natural gas revolution that is taking hold in the United States. Lachlan Markey of the Washington Free Beacon points out some of the more blatant inaccuracies in the film.
Gasland II claim: Water contamination is the result of fracking, not any one of a litany of potential natural causes
Reality: Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Gasland II claim: One study disproves all the other studies. Relying on a 2011 Cornell study, the film insists, life cycle emissions for power generated from natural gas are two to five times higher than prior studies estimated, due primarily to methane emissions at the site of extraction.
Reality: Other studies from the NYC Mayor’s Office and Department of Energy express skepticism of the claims made by the Cornell report
Gasland II claim: Fracking causes earthquakes
Reality: US Geological Survey: “We find no evidence that fracking is related to the occurrence of earthquakes that people are feeling,” said USGS seismologist Bill Ellsworth after releasing a study on the issue.
Energy in Depth also published a two–part, twenty five page rebuttal to Josh Fox’s second installment writing, “in the case of this film, accuracy is too often pushed aside from simplicity, evidence is sacrificed for exaggeration, and the same old cast of characters and anecdotes- previously debunked- simply lifted from prior incarnations of the film and given a new home in this one.”
What the critics are saying:
“The problem with Gasland is that it is entertainment that actually is ‘science denial’ and thus not fitting as an educational documentary or journalism.”- Daily Kos
“Mr. Fox works in the first-person style of colorful mudslingers like Michael Moore… The film runs to two hours and its anecdotal, hopscotch style starts to wear.”- The New York Times
“Whatever your political sympathies, you can’t ignore the evidence that ‘Gasland’ is pure propaganda, not a documentary.”- Washington Examiner
“‘Gasland Part II’ runs longer than the earlier installment, but ultimately it has less to say.”- Indie Wire
President's Energy Speech: More of the same
In what was billed as a landmark speech, President Obama recycled more of the same rhetoric and ideas that Americans have been hearing for the last four years. In sum, his speech proposed the following wish list: more regulation, more tax hikes and less jobs. To top it all off, the President refused to give Keystone Pipeline the green light, despite the overwhelming bi-partisan support and a State Department Environmental Impact Statement saying the environmental risks of the project are minimal.
President’s Wish List:
Ending So-Called Tax Breaks for Oil and Gas Companies
Obama’s antagonistic stance towards oil and gas companies is antithetical to tax policies he’s previously advocated for. Arguing that full business expensing creates jobs by lowering companies’ investment costs, Obama championed this policy for small businesses. The benefits of timely cost recovery policies are never more evident than in the capital intensive oil and natural gas industry. A Wood-Mackenzie study shows that repealing oil and natural gas producers’ tax deductions would cause companies to delay or scrap future projects and could kill 170,000 jobs.
Cap and Trade
President Obama attempted to pass Cap and Trade in his first term, but failed, even with large majorities in both houses. The simple fact is that a cap and trade scheme would be a massive tax hike.
“The implementation of a cap and trade program on American businesses will result in a tax increase of $646 billion dollars over 10 years…When fully phased in, this will be a $100 billion per year tax on American businesses and a $3,100 tax ion energy American family. This tax will decrease U.S. competitiveness and increase consumer costs.”
The most troubling part of President Obama’s speech was his call via executive order for the EPA to introduce and enforce new standards on existing power plants. Though hardly surprising given the President previous statements on coal-fired plants, this plan will cause energy prices to soar and jobs to disappear. Tens of thousands of jobs and livelihoods in states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania depend on the very industries the President is looking to destroy with new regulations. Citing the Department of Energy, which reported that coal will produce 37% of America's energy until 2040, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said it best: “It’s clear the President has declared a war on coal,”
Despite the U.S energy sector being one of the few bright spots in an otherwise struggling economy, the President seems determined to make life more difficult and more expensive for energy consumers all across the country. With huge supplies of oil, natural gas, and coal, the United States can create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of wealth. Meanwhile the President seems determined to stifle and disrupt that potential in order to meet his own political agenda.
Environmental groups look to monopolize forest certification, killing competition and jobs
Environmental groups are seeking a forest certification monopoly instead of preserving the current system of competing certification programs that works perfectly well. A new study reveals that favoring one program – the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – favored by radical environmentalist would hurt landowners, and cost thousands of jobs. Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious and looking for products that they think reflect their beliefs. One of the ways to identify eco-conscious products are the various forest certification labels that appear on wood and paper products. These include FSC, American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Environmental groups, such as ForestEthics and Greenpeace, are pushing to have a monopoly take hold of forestry in the United States instead of allowing competition between the existing forest certification programs. Once again environmentalists are ignoring the very real impact on consumers, taxpayers and jobs to push their agenda by bullying the private sector as they pressure companies to only use the FSC label. This is the same program that was found to allow 600 year old trees in Russia to be used in IKEA furniture.
A research paper released by EconoSTATS at George Mason University entitled: Comparing Forest Certification Standards in the U.S.: Economic Analysis and Practical Consideration found that an FSC monopoly has real implications, specifically in the Southern United States as well as the Pacific Northwest.
“In Oregon, both FSC scenarios significantly reduce economic returns to landowners…Forests managed as either natural stands or plantations under FSC reduce the estimated present value of net operating cash flows by 31% to 46% for the 46 year operating period. The FSC guidelines reduced the acres available for timber harvests, which result in fewer harvested volumes of wood compared with the base case and SFI scenario."
“In Arkansas, the FSC scenario significantly reduces economic returns to landowners. Forest classified as plantations under FSC significantly reduced landowner’s returns and operating flexibility compared with the other certification scenarios…Plantations must have a 25% permanent set aside. That has significant financial implications for landowners as it removes land from operations, which permanently reduces harvest volumes and cash flows."
In Oregon, 31,000 jobs and reduce annual severance taxes by over $6 million
In Arkansas, 10,000 jobs and reduce annual severance taxes by over $600,000
It’s clear from the report that a monopoly standard of forest certification programs kills jobs.
Ed Markey's Awful Record
Having served in Congress for the last 37 years, Ed Markey (D-MA) has built up an extensive voting record. Unfortunately for the voters of Massachusetts it’s nothing to brag about. Markey has consistently voted for higher taxes, more regulation and bigger government at the expense of jobs and economic growth. Here are some of Markey’s greatest hits:
Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade
Introduced in 2009, this 1400 page bill was co-authored and championed by Ed Markey, who claimed this massive policy proposal would have little financial impact on average Americans. According to an analysis conducted by the Heritage Foundation, Waxman-Markey would:
• Reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $7.4 trillion,
• Destroy 844,000 jobs on average, with peak years seeing unemployment rise by over 1,900,000 jobs,
• Raise electricity rates 90 percent after adjusting for inflation,
• Raise inflation-adjusted gasoline prices by 74 percent,
• Raise residential natural gas prices by 55 percent,
• Raise an average family's annual energy bill by $1,500, and
• Increase inflation-adjusted federal debt by 29 percent, or $33,400 additional federal debt per person, again after adjusting for inflation.
Despite overwhelming bi-partisan support for the Keystone pipeline, Ed Markey has persistently opposed the project that would create thousands of new jobs, billions in economic activity and spur American energy. In 2012, Markey voted against Keystone even after 26 of his fellow Democrats voted in favor of it. When the Northern Route Approval Act was on the floor this year, Markey didn’t even bother to show up and vote.
Ed Markey loves to raise taxes and hates cutting them. At a recent campaign stop Markey couldn’t remember when asked if he could name a time when he didn’t support his party raising taxes. According to the National Review, Markey has voted to raise taxes 271 times.
Tax Hikes Not the Answer to Student Loan Debt
Democrats are at it again. Determined to raise taxes, Senate Democrats are propping up students to justify extracting more money from the American people. Instead of looking at ways to cut spending and reform government to pay for student loans, they are resorting back to the familiar playbook that calls for overtaxed citizens to pay even more. Quarterbacking this madness is Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who seems to think that calling for $8.6 billion in new taxes to pay for more spending is sound public policy. When talking to college students at Roger Williams University Senator Reed said:
“We need to rethink the federal approach to providing student loans. There are sensible, fiscally-responsible steps we can take to make our financial aid system more effective, affordable, and sustainable in the long run.”
The problem is that Senator Reed’s proposal doesn’t match his rhetoric. There is nothing sensible or fiscally responsible about billions of dollars in new taxes that would simply keep the status quo of student loans rates. If politicians like Senator Reed really want to get serious and provide real solutions to problems like student loans, a good starting point would be to stop asking for more tax revenue.
Liquefied Natural Gas is a Job Creator
While the United State economy struggles to achieve meaningful growth, one sector of the economy that continues to overachieve is the energy sector. A new report by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE) said that energy firms were one of the largest job creators during 2005-2010. It’s important to note that during the same 2005-2010 period, overall employment declined for small businesses in the United States. In terms of looking ahead Raymond J. Keating, Chief Economist of the SBE Council said:
“Growth opportunities for small businesses and employment in the U.S. energy sector look bright due to increased natural gas demand, including in international markets. The opportunity exists for exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG). Expanded demand for U.S. natural gas internationally will be a net positive, resulting in greater U.S. natural gas production, increased investment, enhanced GDP growth, rising incomes, and more jobs.”
By the Numbers (courtesy of SBE)
Rising Production. Natural gas production increased by 27
percent from 2005 to 2011. This increase in natural gas has
come from high production levels from shale gas, which
• The number of drilling oil and gas wells employer firms grew by 7.2 percent, including 4.7 percent among firms with less than 20 workers and 7.3 percent among firms with less than 500.
• The number of oil and gas operations employer firms grew by 24.5 percent, including 24.5 percent among firms with less than 20 workers and 24.6 percent among firms with less than 500.
• The number of oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction employer firms grew by 5.1 percent, including growth of 3.5 percent among firms with less than 500 workers.
• The number of oil and gas field machinery and equipment manufacturing employer firms grew by 61.0 percent, including growth of 59.0 percent among firms with less than 20 workers and 62.7 percent among firms with less than 500 workers.
Small Business Population. At the same time, small and midsize firms overwhelmingly populate each of the energy sectors considered. Businesses with less than 20 workers came in at:
• 91.3 percent of oil and gas extraction employer firms;
• 80.4 percent of drilling oil and gas wells employer firms;
• 84.7 percent of oil and gas operations employer firms;
• 63 percent of oil and gas pipeline and related structures
construction employer firms; and
• 60.3 percent of oil and gas field machinery and equipment
manufacturing employer firms.
With the United States in the middle an energy revolution there seems to be unlimited potential in what can be accomplished. States such as Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming are all emerging as leaders in the liquefied natural gas market. One thing that threatens this energy revolution is unnecessary government regulation and red tape that kills jobs and stifles innovation. Government should be doing everything possible to encourage these job creators, not standing in their way
House Approves Keystone Again
Yesterday the US House of Representatives voted to approve the Keystone Pipeline by a vote of 241-175. Over 1700 days have passed since the Keystone Pipeline first applied to the State Department for permitting. Instead of approving a project that would create thousands of jobs, billions in economic activity and push America towards energy independence, the President has opted to drag his feet instead. On approving Keystone, Speaker Boehner said:
“The Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of American jobs and pump nearly a million barrels of oil to U.S. refineries each day, helping to lower gas prices, boost economic growth, enhance our energy security, and revitalize manufacturing. The project is backed by a majority of the American people, including members of the president’s own party. Labor unions have rallied for its approval, saying it’s ‘not just a pipeline, it’s a lifeline.’ Unfortunately, after nearly five years of blocking the project, it’s a lifeline President Obama is refusing to toss American workers.”
President Obama had threatened to veto the Keystone Pipeline if the House passed H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. Now that the House has overwhelmingly endorsed the Keystone Pipeline yet again, it will be interesting to see if the President will make good on his promise to deny American workers jobs. Once more it seems this President is more concerned with politics than economic growth.
Not Happy Anniversary Keystone Pipeline!
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed HR 3, legislation approving the Keystone Pipeline, 1700 days after the project was first submitted to the State Department.
The Keystone Pipeline represents the best opportunity for President Obama to allow for meaningful and immediate jobs as well as economic activity for a project that enjoys overwhelming support in Congress and in the public. According to countless studies, Keystone will create 20,000 immediate jobs as well 118,000 indirect ones, billions of dollars in economic activity, and be a boon to the US energy sector. The President still won’t approve it.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in 2012, 293-127 in favor of the pipeline. Just this past March in a non-binding resolution, the United States Senate voted 62-37 approving the pipeline. The Governors of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana all support it. The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffet, and even Chris Matthews support the Keystone Pipeline. Even with this groundswell of support the President refuses to act.
On March 1, the State Department released its environmental impact report regarding Keystone. The report concluded that the pipeline would have no meaningful impact on the environment. However even his own State Department’s report hasn’t stopped the President from taking policy advice from the likes of the Sierra Club, Van Jones and Robert Kennedy Jr.
Sen. Vitter: EPA has shown an absolute disregard for transparency
As the EPA continues to stonewall Congress, Senator David Vitter discovered that former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, a.k.a. Richard Windsor, used a fake alias to communicate with interest groups. This revelation represents just the latest example of the EPA’s blatant disregard for calls to be more open and transparent.
In a press release Vitter said:
"EPA has shown an absolute disregard for transparency with their email practices, but this one is pretty bizarre…We also know now that Lisa Jackson used the alias ‘Richard Windsor’ to correspond outside of the EPA, including with environmental activists. There are still a lot of unanswered transparency questions, and Jackson’s replacement, nominee Gina McCarthy, is responsible for answering them and reinforcing transparency as a priority for the future of the Agency.”
This comes after a letter was sent to the Senate Environment and Public works committee by conservative groups highlighting their concerns over transparency at the EPA and Lisa Jackson’s successor, Gina McCarthy:
“The Windsor-gate scandal that precipitated Lisa Jackson's departure was only the latest example. The agency has also refused to release the underlying data for benefit claims for rules that impose billions of dollars of economic costs, skirted FOIA requests, and evaded public participation by entering into secretly-negotiated settlement agreements with left-wing interest groups.”
The latest batch of e-mails illustrates a clear pattern of deception. Before the Senate considers Gina McCarthy, the American people should be assured that the EPA will change how it does business.