Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WIMS Publication Break

WIMS is on our late summer break.
We will return on September 6, 2011
Thank you very much for visiting our blog.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CRS Report Analyzes So-Called EPA "Train Wreck" Regulations

Aug 8: A recent 50-page Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, EPA's Regulation of Coal-Fired Power: Is a "Train Wreck" Coming?, (No. 7-5700), provides an overview and analysis of many of the regulatory impact studies conducted by interest groups that discuss the impact of proposed regulations by U.S. EPA. The analysis emphasizes the impact on coal-fired power plants, but also includes discussions of regulations affecting other industry sectors. The report includes an important reference appendix of Bibliography of Analytic Reports which lists the various analytic reports with Internet links by policy and advocacy groups both for and against the regulations. CRS mission is to "serve the Congress throughout the legislative process by providing comprehensive and reliable legislative research and analysis that are timely, objective, authoritative, and confidential, thereby contributing to an informed national legislature."
    The report indicates that, "Given the central role of electric power in the nation's economy, and the importance of coal in power production, concerns have been raised recently about the cost and potential impact of regulations under development at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would impose new requirements on coal-fired power plants. Six of the rules, which have drawn much of the recent attention, are Clean Air Act regulations. Two others are Clean Water Act rules, and one is a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act rule. The majority are expected to be promulgated over the next 18 months. All together, these rules have been characterized by critics as a regulatory "train wreck" that would impose excessive costs and lead to plant retirements that could threaten the adequacy of electricity capacity (i.e., reliability of supply) across the country, especially from now through 2017.
    "Although some question why EPA is undertaking so many regulatory actions in such a short timeframe, supporters of the regulations assert that it is decades of regulatory delays and court decisions that have led to this point, resulting in part from special consideration given electric utilities by Congress under several statutes. Further, several of the current regulatory developments have been under consideration for a decade or longer, or are being reevaluated after an earlier action was vacated or remanded to EPA by the courts. The regulations are supported by proponents and EPA as having substantial benefits for public health and the environment.
    "Recent reports by industry trade associations and others have discussed potential harm of EPA's prospective regulations to U.S. electricity generating capacity, with emphasis on coal-fired generation. One of these reports, by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which represents investor-owned utilities, has attracted considerable attention by depicting a timeline in which multiple rules would take effect more or less simultaneously over the next five years. Congress has shown significant interest in these issues, and bills have been introduced that would de-fund or restrict EPA's ability to develop rules, and which would legislate new regulatory analytic requirements. The report describes nine rules in seven categories that are at the core of recent critical analyses, with background on the rule and its requirements and, where possible, a discussion of the rule's potential costs and benefits.
    "The EEI and other analyses discussed here generally predate EPA's actual proposals and reflect assumptions about stringency and timing (especially for implementation) that differ significantly from what EPA actually may propose or has promulgated. Some of the rules are expected to be expensive; costs of others are likely to be moderate or limited, or they are unknown at this point because a rule has not yet been proposed. Rules when actually proposed or issued may well differ enough that a plant operator's decision about investing in pollution controls or facility retirement will look entirely different from what these analyses project. Further, promulgation of standards is not the end of the road: court challenges are likely, potentially delaying implementation for years, and even when final, EPA rules must be adopted by states and implemented over time through
state-issued permits.
    "The primary impacts of many of the rules will largely be on coal-fired plants more than 40 years old that have not, until now, installed state-of-the-art pollution controls. Many of these plants are inefficient and are being replaced by more efficient combined cycle natural gas plants, a development likely to be encouraged if the price of competing fuel -- natural gas -- continues to be low, almost regardless of EPA rules."
    CRS concludes, ". . .evaluating regulatory impacts, compliance costs, and possible retirement decisions depends on facility-specific considerations—micro, not macro. Utilities and states will be affected differently. Rules when actually proposed or issued may well differ enough that investment or retirement decisions look entirely different. Technology options available to a unit or plant depend on the specific rule, and compliance costs may be less than projected. Even some units with high assumed control costs, or others that look to be marginal economically, may install controls and continue to operate. Many utilities have already installed technology needed to comply with new rules; for them, costs will be minimal: EPA said that, with regard to the most expensive proposed rule, the Utility MACT, more than half of the coal-fired units fall in this category. The EEI and NERC [North American Electric Reliability Corporation] reports did not account for the fact that plants' compliance costs may be less because of investments already made in pollution control equipment.
    "Frequently overlooked in analyses of EPA regulations are the benefits to public health and the environment that will occur, benefits that for the most part are difficult to monetize. EPA does estimate benefits of individual rules, while acknowledging that it is challenging to quantify benefits due to data limitations and uncertainties in approaches used to value benefits. The costs of the rules may be large, but, in most cases, the benefits are larger, especially estimated public health benefits. Neither the EEI nor the NERC report addresses benefits."
    CRS indicates that several other conclusions bear repeating:
  • The studies sponsored by industry groups (EEI and NERC) were written before EPA proposed most of the rules whose impacts they analyze, and they assumed that the rules would impose more stringent requirements than EPA proposed in many cases.
  • Of the regulations so far proposed, the Utility MACT, which will set standards for power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, appears to be the most expensive. EPA's analysis concluded that it will impose annual costs of $10 billion to $11 billion annually
  • Other rules that industry expected to impose major costs now appear less likely to do so. The Cooling Water Intake rule, for example, proposes a less costly, more flexible regulatory option than EEI and NERC anticipated. Further, NERC believes that few coal-fired EGUs will be affected by this rule, which will have greater impact on older, oil-fired units. The Coal Combustion Waste Rule has been delayed, with no deadline for promulgation.
  • For coal-fired plants, the primary impacts will be on units more than 40 years old that have not, until now, installed state-of-the art pollution controls. Many of these plants are inefficient, and are being replaced by more efficient combined cycle natural gas plants.
  • Lower prices for natural gas and recent increases in its projected availability may reduce the impact of the proposed rules on electric utilities and consumers, although they may lead to more retirements of coal-fired units.
  • There is a substantial amount of excess generation capacity at present, due in part to the recession and also due to the large number of natural gas combined cycle plants constructed in the last decade, muting reliability concerns.
    CRS also provides concluding thoughts on the uncertainty of the actual implementation of EPA rules including changes in effective dates, court challenges, interactions and actual state-level implementation, permitting and compliance schedules -- all of which involves time periods of years in actual final implementation of regulations. CRS concludes, "In short, the road to EPA regulation is rarely a straight path. There are numerous possible causes of delay. It would be unusual if the regulatory actions described here were all implemented on the anticipated schedule, and even if they were, existing facilities would often have several years before being required to comply. Unable to account for such factors, which will vary from case to case, timelines that show dates for proposal and promulgation of EPA standards effectively underestimate the complexities of the regulatory process and overstate the near-term impact of many of the regulatory actions."
    Access the CRS report on the Foley Hoag's Environmental Practice Group website (click here). [#All]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

DOE Adopts Full-Fuel-Cycle Policy For Energy Use & Emissions

Aug 18: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a Statement of Policy in the Federal Register [76 FR 51281-51289] which it indicated is consistent with recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (the Academy) regarding its intent to modify the methods it uses to estimate the likely impacts of energy conservation standards. The impacts for covered products include energy use and emissions and DOE said it will work to expand the energy use and emissions information made available to consumers. Specifically, DOE intends to use "full-fuel-cycle" (FFC) measures of energy use and emissions, rather than the primary (or site) energy measures it currently uses. Additionally, DOE said it intends to work collaboratively with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make information readily available to consumers on the FFC energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of specific products to enable consumers to make cross-class comparisons of product energy use and emissions.
    In August 2010, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy published a Notice of Proposed Policy indicating its intent to begin using full-fuel-cycle (FFC) measures of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions in the national impact analyses and environmental assessments included in rulemakings for future energy conservation standards (referred to herein as "energy conservation standards" or "energy efficiency levels." DOE stated that using the FFC measure in these analyses will provide more complete information about the total energy use and GHG emissions associated with a specific energy efficiency level rather than the primary (or site) energy measures currently used by DOE. DOE also indicated that utilizing the FFC measure for environmental assessments and national impact analyses would not require alteration of the measures used to determine the energy efficiency of covered products (i.e. "appliances and equipment" or just "appliances") because the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended, requires that such measures be based solely on the energy consumed at the point of use.
    However, DOE indicated in the Notice that using the FFC measure in lieu of primary energy in environmental assessments and national impact analyses could affect the alternative standard levels that DOE considers before choosing an energy efficiency level in the future. A policy change to consider FFC impacts would increase the energy and emission reductions estimated to result from energy efficiency levels. DOE said this shift would, consequently, increase some of the estimated benefits of such standards.
    The Notice also proposed that DOE would significantly improve upon the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) existing online databases of appliance site energy use and efficiency ratings by including FFC energy use and emissions data. DOE solicited public comment on whether such an online service would likely benefit consumers and, if so, the most effective way to present this information. DOE also solicited comments on the merits of providing GHG emissions and other product-specific comparative data on Energy Guide labels.
    After consideration of the comments received on its NOPP, DOE has decided to use FFC measures of energy use and GHG and other emissions in the national impact analyses and environmental assessments included in future energy conservation standards rulemakings.
    DOE currently uses primary (or site) energy consumption for national impact analyses and environmental assessments using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) developed by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). DOE will continue to rely upon NEMS-based estimates of primary energy and emission impacts, but intends to use conversion factors generated by the DOE Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model to convert the estimates into estimates of FFC energy and emission impacts. DOE said it will also, subject to the availability of funds, support efforts to make readily available to consumers and other users of regulated products information on the FFC energy use and emissions associated with specific products, and the means to compare this energy use and emissions to other comparable products, whether or not those other products use the same type of energy.

    Section 1802 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) directed DOE to commission a study with the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether the goals of energy conservation standards are best served by measurement of energy consumed, and efficiency improvements at, the actual point-of-use or through the use of the FFC, beginning at the source of energy production The FFC measure includes point-of-use energy, the energy losses associated with generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, and the energy consumed in extracting, processing, and transporting or distributing primary fuels. The study, "Review of Site (Point-of-Use) and Full-Fuel-Cycle Measurement Approaches to DOE/EERE Building Appliance Energy-Efficiency Standards," (Academy report) was completed in May 2009 and included five recommendations.
    The Academy's primary recommendation was that "DOE consider moving over time to use of a FFC measure of energy consumption for assessment of national and environmental impact, especially levels of GHG emissions, and to providing more comprehensive information to the public through labels and other means such as an enhanced Web site."
    DOE indicates that in response to its Notice, it received comments from 41 entities. Comments were submitted by utilities, research facilities, consumer representatives, non-profit organizations, farmers and others. The final Statement of Policy announcement includes an extensive review of the comments and DOE responses and includes a series of policy statements responding to the various comments.
    Access the complete final Statement of Policy FR announcement (click here). Access the National Academy of Sciences report (click here). [#Energy/Efficiency]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Investor Groups Praise Northeast States' Clean Fuels Proposal

Aug 17: Ceres President Mindy Lubber and two leading investors issued public statements on the proposed Clean Fuels Standard for 11 Northeast states and the early release of the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) economic analysis showing clear economic benefits stemming from a Clean Fuels Standard (CFS). NESCAUM includes the eight Northeastern states of CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI and VT. [Note: DE, MD and PA are added to form the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region]. The analysis modeled the impacts of a regional CFS that would achieve a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels over a 10 year period ending in 2022.

    The CFS analysis was undertaken by the NESCAUM at the request of the Northeast states in 2009. The analysis assumed different scenarios accounting for uncertainties with gasoline and diesel demand, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel expenditures, delivery infrastructure and vehicle mix and macroeconomic factors such as employment and disposable income. Though the specifics of a regional CFS are still under development by the states, it would generally require fuel providers to gradually decrease the carbon intensity of their fuel, either by adding cleaner fuels into their fuel mix, or by purchasing credits generated by alternative fuels such as electricity or natural gas. The transition would reduce regional dependence on imported oil by diversifying transportation fuels to include domestic alternatives such as advanced biofuels, electricity and natural gas.

    The NESCAUM report findings, which will be formally released soon, show that a CFS would:

  • reduce oil consumption in the 11 states by up to 29 percent, or 9 billion gallons annually, in 2022 when the program is fully implemented
  • increase total jobs by up to 50,000 over the 10-year period. The new jobs would be in various industries, including utility-related jobs due to increased demand for electricity and natural gas for transportation purposes, as well as manufacturing and construction jobs related to installing fueling  infrastructure and building and operating biofuel and biogas production plants.
  • increase cumulative net savings on transportation costs for households and businesses by up to $74.7 billion by 2022.
  • Additionally, construction, manufacturing, forestry and agricultural services sectors would benefit. The health care and finance/insurance sectors would also experience positive indirect impacts.

    Lubber, who leads a national coalition of investors and public interest groups working to build a sustainable economy, said of the findings, "NESCAUM's analysis demonstrates that a Clean Fuels Standard would bring significant economic benefits to the region and foster investment in a strong regional clean fuels system. The standard would provide the market certainty that investors and businesses need to invest in the development and production of alternative fuels, creating a robust clean fuels market and minimizing our vulnerability to volatile oil prices. By investing at home, rather than spending billions on foreign oil, the standard will also help create badly needed jobs."

    Matthew Fitzmaurice, Managing Partner of AWJ Capital Partners, LLC, a global fund of funds manager, and member of Ceres' Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) added, "America's overdependence on oil generally, and foreign oil specifically, is unacceptable, as it will weaken our competiveness in a global economy.  To change the status quo, we need clear standards. Investment capital now plays on a global stage, and capital represented by hedge funds will find its way into those economies and thus companies where clear standards exist. Failure to enact clean fuel standards will result in the U.S. becoming less competitive in the allocation of global investment capital."

    Access a release from Ceres (click here). Access the Maine release of the 146-page NESCAUM "Economic Analysis of a Program to Promote Clean Transportation Fuels in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Region" (click here). Access the NESCAUM website for more information (click here). [#Energy/CFS, #Transport/CFS]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review Panel For Refinery MACT Is "Inadequate" & "Premature"

Aug 16: In a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Cass Sunstein, the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) has indicated that it believes the agencies are conducting an "inadequate" and "premature" Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel on its upcoming rulemaking, "Petroleum Refinery Sector Risk and Technology Review and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS)." The panel is to focus on developing updated emissions standards for petroleum refineries for multiple pollutants, including greenhouse gases (GHGs) [See WIMS 5/3/11].

    Advocacy states in the August 4, letter, "
Today, EPA convened a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel on its upcoming rulemaking, 'Petroleum Refinery Sector Risk and Technology Review and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).' The Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) does not agree that this panel should have convened at this time. We believe that EPA is not yet ready for this panel, since it has not provided the other panel members with information on the potential impacts of this rule and will not provide small entity representatives (SERs) with sufficient information upon which to discuss alternatives and provide recommendations to EPA. It is Advocacy's position that EPA is not in compliance with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) due to the lack of information provided and that a panel conducted under these circumstances is unlikely to succeed at identifying reasonable regulatory alternatives, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Advocacy acknowledges that EPA is conducting this rulemaking under court-agreed deadlines as part of negotiated settlement agreements, deadlines to which Advocacy objected in a public comment letter to EPA on January 19, 2011. EPA cannot rely on these deadlines to justify an inadequate SBAR panel." [Note: EPA indicates that it must comply with the settlement agreement proposal date of December 10, 2011 and promulgation date of November 10, 2012].
    Advocacy states that, "EPA has broad discretion to design a regulatory program to regulate GHGs under section 111 of the Clean Air Act. For that reason, Advocacy believes that SERs have not been provided enough information to project how EPA will structure this regulation or establish the relevant standards. In the absence of information, SERs will be unable to understand potential impacts of the rulemaking and make recommendations about regulatory alternatives that would minimize the impacts on small entities while fulfilling EPA's goals. Advocacy raised this concern at the convening of the SBAR panel for the EGU GHG standards of performance rulemaking earlier this year."
    Advocacy concludes, "Advocacy states its objection to the convening of this panel because we believe EPA is not providing sufficient information to the SERs. As a result, the SBAR panels will likely be unable to identify specific regulatory alternatives that would 'accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and which minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities.' We believe input from small entities will be valuable in this important rulemaking, and we want to ensure SERs on this SBAR panel are able to contribute effectively to this process."
    Access the letter from SBA Advocacy which includes further details (click here). Access details from EPA including, background information for the Refinery panel (click here). [*Air, *Climate, *Transport, *Energy]

Monday, August 15, 2011

Advisors See Health & Climate Benefits From Black Carbon Mitigation

Aug 11: U.S. EPA's Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis has completed its review of the draft EPA document, Report to Congress on Black Carbon, with respect to its accuracy and clarity in summarizing the available scientific literature, including uncertainties [See WIMS 3/28/11]. Black carbon is a mixture of light-absorbing particles that results from incomplete combustion of organic materials such as petroleum fuels or biomass, and these particles have been implicated in climate change and impacts on human health. In 2009, Congress directed EPA, in consultation with other Federal agencies, to summarize the available science on the impacts of black carbon on climate, sources of black carbon emissions, benefits to climate and human health from reductions in those emissions, and the cost-effectiveness of available mitigation strategies. The Council, augmented with experts in the chemistry, modeling and control of black carbon, has reviewed the draft 386-page EPA report and provides advice and recommendations in their own 74-page report.
    The Council indicates that it commends EPA on the quality of the draft report. In a cover letter to Administrator Jackson the Council indicates, "It is comprehensive and well-written, and summarizes much of the relevant scientific literature on the nature of black carbon particles; their formation, transformation and transport in the atmosphere; associated climate and health impacts; and possible mitigation technologies. In addition, the Report successfully uses text boxes and figures to convey a wealth of complex information. However, the enclosed Council report has many substantial recommendations for how the EPA report can be improved."
    The Council indicates that the preponderance of the available data support a conclusion that there are actions to reduce black carbon emissions that will be a -- "win-win" for public health and climate, and the Council urges the Agency to strengthen this message in the report. "The report should expand the discussion of health effects associated with black carbon, which is a component of particulate matter, and highlight the considerable health benefits that would derive from reductions in black carbon emissions. In addition, the Council recommends that the report be revised to include a more rigorous treatment of benefits and costs and associated uncertainties of black carbon mitigation options to inform policy."
    Without prescribing specific policies, the Council says, "the report should develop recommendations for U.S. black carbon mitigation strategies in the short and longer term, and strategies for developing countries, and discuss how the selection of metrics and mitigation approaches would vary for the different timescales and geographic domains.
    "The EPA report appropriately emphasizes that black carbon reductions should not be viewed as a substitute for needed reductions in long-lived greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) over the long term, but is relatively silent on the unique benefits that might be expected from changes in more near-term influences. The Council recommends a more thorough discussion of these implications and the desirability of placing a higher priority on the control of a short-term climate forcer such as black carbon in addition to controls on long-lived greenhouse gases. In closing, the Council agrees that meaningful reductions in short-term climate forcers such as black carbon could provide additional time for society to implement climate change adaptation as well as to transition to low-carbon economies."
    Among the many recommendations, the Council's report indicates:

  • Based on the preponderance of available data, the Council suggests an affirmative statement that BC appears to warm climate and that BC mitigation will produce both health and climate benefits.
  • The Report should expand the discussion of health effects associated with BC, drawing upon the particulate matter, traffic emissions and other relevant literature, and highlight the considerable health benefits that would derive from reductions in BC emissions. This health co-benefit may exceed climate-mediated benefits.
  • The discussion of BC climate impacts should focus more on measures of climate response (such as changes in temperature and precipitation patterns), rather than on changes in radiative forcing, so that a broader set of impacts are considered and presented in terms that are meaningful to the generalist reader.
  • The Report should articulate potential benefits to pursuing a goal of reducing short-term climate change or slowing the rate of change, as a complement to the existing policy goal of limiting the long-term increase in global mean temperature. The discussion of metrics should discuss how policy goals will influence the selection of appropriate metrics.
  • The Report should discuss a broader range of BC mitigation approaches, including policies that could influence demand for sustainable transport, vehicle use generally, modal substitution, enhanced energy use efficiency, electrification using wind/water/solar, and improved fuel combustion and engine technologies.
    Access the Council's final report (click here)Access the Council website on the report and link to background, information on meetings and the 386-page draft report (click here). [#Air, #Climate]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Obama Unleashes Criticism Of Washington Politics In Holland, MI

Aug 11: In a small Midwestern town, at the Johnson Controls advanced battery facility in Holland, Michigan, President Obama decided to unleash his frustration with Congress and the bitter partisan politics that have characterized legislative actions in Washington, DC. It was expected that the President was going to focus much more on the recent rules [See WIMS 8/11/11] to bring fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 20205 [See WIMS 7/29/11] and fuel-efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles [See WIMS 8/9/11]. While he did mention very briefly that he "brought together the world's largest auto companies who agreed" to the standards; and emphasized "we didn't go through Congress to do it," he spent most of his speech criticizing Washington politics. The President said in part:

    "At a time when Americans are rightly focused on our economy, when Americans are asking about what's our path forward, all of you here at Johnson Controls are providing a powerful answer.  This is one of the most advanced factories in the world.  You're helping America lead in a growing new industry. You're showing us how we can come back from the worst recession that we've had in generations and start making things here in America that are sold all around the world. . . And that's why even in these difficult times, there is not a single country on Earth that wouldn't trade places with us. Not one. We've got to remember that. . .

    "Unfortunately, what we've seen in Washington the last few months has been the worst kind of partisanship, the worst kind of gridlock –- and that gridlock has undermined public confidence and impeded our efforts to take the steps we need for our economy. It's made things worse instead of better. So what I want to say to you, Johnson Controls, is: There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics. There's something wrong with our politics that we need to fix. . .

    "We know there are things we can do right now that will help accelerate growth and job creation –- that will support the work going on here at Johnson Controls, here in Michigan, and all across America. We can do some things right now that will make a difference.  We know there are things we have to do to erase a legacy of debt that hangs over the economy. But time and again, we've seen partisan brinksmanship get in the way -– as if winning the next election is more important than fulfilling our responsibilities to you and to our country. This downgrade you've been reading about could have been entirely avoided if there had been a willingness to compromise in Congress. See, it didn't happen because we don't have the capacity to pay our bills -– it happened because Washington doesn't have the capacity to come together and get things done.  It was a self-inflicted wound. . .

    "There are things we can do right now that will put more money in your pockets; will help businesses sell more products around the world; will put people to work in Michigan and across the country. And to get these things done, we do need Congress. They're common-sense ideas that have been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans, things that are supported by Carl Levin. The only thing keeping us back is our politics. The only thing preventing these bills from being passed is the refusal of some folks in Congress to put the country ahead of party. There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.

    "And that has to stop.  It's got to stop. We're supposed to all be on the same team, especially when we're going through tough times.  We can't afford to play games -- not right now, not when the stakes are so high for our economy. And if you agree with me –- it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent -- you've got to let Congress know.  You've got to tell them you've had enough of the theatrics.  You've had enough of the politics.  Stop sending out press releases.  Start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.  That's what they need to do -- they've got to hear from you. . ."

    The President continued saying, ". . .over the coming weeks, I'm going to be putting out more proposals, week by week, that will help businesses hire and put people back to work.  And I'm going to keep at it until every single American who wants a job can find one. Now, we do have to pay for these things. And in order to pay for these things, Congress has to finish the job of reducing the nation's budget deficit in a sensible, responsible way. Not just with more cuts this year or next year -- those cuts would weaken the economy more than it already is, and we've already cut a trillion dollars in what's called discretionary spending.  What we need is a long-term plan to get our nation's finances in order. That's the only way we can invest in places like this.  . . We can't ask the people in this room -- working families, middle-class families -- to bear the entire burden.  We're not going to balance our budgets on the back of middle-class and working people in this country. Everybody has got to do their part. . ."

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement on the President's remarks in Michigan and said, "American families and small businesses are hurting in this economy, and they are still asking 'Where are the jobs?' That's why Republicans have acted on common-sense, pro-growth policies aimed at creating a better environment for job creation. Republicans passed a budget that includes pro-growth tax reforms that will create jobs, real entitlement reforms, and more than $6 trillion in spending cuts.  Republicans have introduced and are implementing a Plan for America's Job Creators. And the House-passed Cut, Cap & Balance Act is still sitting over in the Senate, where it could be taken up and passed immediately. President Obama likes to talk about being 'the adult in the room' -- but there's nothing 'adult' about political grandstanding. If the President wants to do something productive, he can start by delivering on his promise to outline his own recommendations to rein in the massive deficits and debt that are undermining job creation in our country."

    Access the full text of the President's comments (click here). Access Speaker Boehner's statement (click here). [#Energy/Battery, #Energy/CAFE]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DOE Advisors Issue Recommendations For Fracking Of Shale Gas

Aug 11: A diverse group of advisors to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu released a series of consensus-based recommendations calling for increased measurement, public disclosure and a commitment to continuous improvement in the development and environmental management of shale gas, which has rapidly grown to nearly 30 percent of natural gas production in the United States [See WIMS 5/6/11]. The draft report indicates that increased transparency and a focus on best practices "benefits all parties in shale gas production: regulators will have more complete and accurate information, industry will achieve more efficient operations and the public will see continuous, measurable, improvement in shale gas activities."

    The report calls for industry leadership in improving environmental performance, underpinned by strong regulations and rigorous enforcement, evolving to meet the identified challenges. The Shale Gas Production Subcommittee Chairman John Deutch, an MIT professor said, "As shale gas grows and becomes an increasingly important part of our nation's energy supply, it is crucial to bring a better understanding of the environmental impacts -- both current and potential -- and ensure that they are properly addressed. The current output of shale gas and its potential for future growth emphasize the need to assure that this supply is produced in an environmentally sound fashion, and in a way that meets the needs of public trust. Better data will help the industry focus its investments, give the public the information it needs to effectively engage, and help regulators identify and address the most important problems," Deutch continued.  "We're issuing a call for industry action, but we are not leaving it to industry alone."

    On August 15, 2011, the full Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) will convene a public meeting via conference call to discuss the draft report. Members of the public may submit comments on the draft report at any time, but comments must be submitted by noon on August 15, 2011, in order to be considered at this stage. Comments received after August 15, will be considered before the Subcommittee's final report is issued, which is scheduled for November 18, 2011. The Natural Gas Subcommittee met for the first time on May 18, 2011. Subsequently, it conducted public meetings on June 1-2, June 13, June 28, and July 13, to gather information and discuss issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing. As of July 15, 2011, DOE had received over 25,000 public comments.

    The Subcommittee was tasked with producing a report on the immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of shale gas development. The report reflects three months of deliberations among a diverse group of industry experts, environmental advocates, academics and former state regulators. The report includes recommendations in four key areas:

1. Making information about shale gas production operations more accessible to the public

     The report calls for the full disclosure of all chemicals used in fracturing fluids. While the committee agrees with the prevailing view that the risk of leakage of fracturing fluids through fractures made in deep shale reserves is remote where there are is large separation from drinking water, the report finds that there is no economic or technical reason to prevent public disclosure of all chemicals used in fracturing fluids. It also calls for the creation of a national database of all public information made about shale gas. Assembling the data, which are currently dispersed in perhaps a hundred different locations, in a comparable format would permit easier access by all interested parties. The report recommends government funding support for existing, multi-stakeholder mechanisms such as the non-profit Ground Water Protection Council's Risk Based Data Management System and the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulation.

 2. Immediate and longer-term actions to reduce environmental and safety risks of shale gas operations, with a particular focus on protecting air and water quality

     Air Quality: The report says that measures should be taken to reduce emissions on air pollutants, ozone precursors and methane as quickly as practicable and supports prompt adoption of standards to reduce emissions of all air contaminants. The subcommittee recommends the design and rapid implementation of measurement systems to collect comprehensive methane and other air emissions data from shale gas operations. The subcommittee also recommends that a federal interagency planning effort be launched immediately to acquire data and analyze the overall greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas operations throughout the lifecycle of natural gas use in comparison to other fuels.

     Water Quality: The report urges the adoption of a systemic approach to water management based on consistent measurement and public disclosure. Companies should measure and publicly report the composition of water stocks and flow throughout the process; manifest all transfers of water among different locations; and makes recommendations about best practices in well development and construction, especially casing and cementing. Likewise, agencies should review and modernize their rules to ensure they are fully protective of both groundwater and surface water. The findings also recommend additional field studies on methane leakage from hydrofractured wells to water reservoirs and the adoption of requirements for background water quality measurements to record existing methane levels in nearby water wells prior to drilling.

 3. Creation of a Shale Gas Industry Operation organization committed to continuous improvement of best operating practices

     A more systemic approach by the shale gas industry based on best practices -- recognized as improvements to techniques and methods over time based on measurement and field experience -- is an important way to achieve better operational and environmental outcomes. The report envisions the creation of a national organization, with external stakeholders, dedicated to continuous improvement of best practice through the development and diffusion of standards and the assessment of member compliance. The organization would likely work through regional subgroups.

 4. Research and development (R&D) to improve safety and environmental performance

     The report finds that, while the majority of shale gas R&D will be performed by the oil and gas industry, there is a role for the Federal government. The report recommends that the administration set an appropriate mission for shale gas R&D and level funding, with a particular focus on efficiency of water use and other improvements to enhance environmental objectives. Deutch said, "We are mindful of the nation's financial constraints. But we do see a key role that can be played by modest government support for R&D around environmental questions."

    Access a release from DOE (click here). Access the complete 41-page 90-day draft report (click here). Access the SEAB website for extensive information including details on commenting, the Aug. 15 meeting, details of previous meetings, and a summary of comments (click here). Access a 5/5/11 release from DOE with additional background information on the committee members (click here). Access the complete 3-page charge to the group (click here). [*Energy/Frack]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

House & Senate Leaders Appoint Most Super Committee Members

Aug 10: House and Senate leaders have announced their appointments to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC, a.k.a. "Super Committee") recently created under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (i.e. debt ceiling legislation). The JSC is charged with devise a long-term approach to reducing the nation's deficit by at least $1.5 trillion before this Thanksgiving. The bipartisan, bicameral committee will be comprised of 12 members, 6 from each Chamber, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The JSC has been given broad leeway to examine all areas for deficit reduction, and its legislation will be given expedited consideration, with a guaranteed up-or-down vote in the Senate before Christmas.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his appointments as: Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA). Senator Murray will serve as the co-chair of the JSC. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Budget, Banking, Commerce and Joint Economic Committee member Pat Toomey (R-PA), and former OMB Director and now Budget Committee Rob Portman (R-OH).
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his appointments as: House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX); House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI); and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not yet announced her appointments.
    Access a release on the Senate Democrat appointments (click here). Access a release on the Senate Republican appointments (click here). Access a release on the House Republican appointments (click here). Access a release on the House Democrats (click here, posted soon). [#All]

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

First Ever Fuel Efficiency Standards For Trucks & Heavy Duty Vehicles

Aug 9: At a meeting with industry officials at Interstate Moving Services in Springfield, Virginia, President Obama announced the first of their kind fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles. The new standards are designed to provide American businesses, who operate and own these commercial vehicles, tens of billions of dollars in fuel savings, and to dramatically reduce oil consumption and cut pollution.
    According to a White House release, the standards, will save American businesses who operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. EPA developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with the President today as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to develop this program. The cost savings for American businesses are on top of the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administrations for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the President last month [See WIMS 7/29/11].  

    The President said, "While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened. We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I'm proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks."

    DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said, "Thanks to the Obama Administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school. These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America." EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "This Administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe and cutting carbon pollution -- and programs like these ensure that we can serve those priorities while also reducing our dependence on imported oil and saving money for drivers. More efficient trucks on our highways and less pollution from the buses in our neighborhoods will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy."

    The White House indicated that under the comprehensive new national program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the recently proposed CAFE standards, this program -- which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies – was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.  

    The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes.  Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. The flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.  

    According to the White House, a semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck's useful life. These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death. By the 2018 model year, the program is expected to achieve significant savings relative to current levels, across vehicle types.  Certain combination tractors -- commonly known as big-rigs or semi-trucks -- will be required to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

    For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018. Under the finalized standards a typical gasoline or diesel powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Vocational vehicles -- including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks -- will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018. These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

    Access a release from the White House (click here). Access complete detailed information including fact sheets, prepublication copy, modeling, regulatory impact analysis, response to comments and more from EPA's website (click here). Access more information from the NHTSA website (click here). [#Energy/Efficiency, #Climate, #Air]

Monday, August 08, 2011

Building America's Future: Falling Apart & Falling Behind

Aug 8: The Building America's Future Educational Fund (BAFEF), a bipartisan and national infrastructure coalition comprised of state and locally elected officials, released a new study that lays out the economic challenges posed by our ailing infrastructure. The report, Building America's Future: Falling Apart and Falling Behind, provides a comparative look at the smart investments being made by our international competitors and suggests a series of recommendations for crafting new innovative transportation policies in the U.S.
    The Building America's Future Educational Fund (BAF Ed Fund) is a bipartisan coalition of elected officials dedicated to bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in infrastructure that enhances our nation's prosperity and quality of life. Founded by former Governor Edward Rendell (D-PA), former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NYC) of New York, the BAF Ed Fund boasts a politically diverse membership of state and local elected officials from across the nation. The BAF Ed Fund seeks to advance a new national vision for infrastructure investment that strengthens our cities and rural communities, focuses on economic growth and global competitiveness, job creation, and environmental sustainability. In addition, we embrace a wide definition of infrastructure - from roads and bridges to water and sewer systems, energy systems, buses, trains, ports, airports, levees, dams, schools and housing.

    The first section of the report, A Building Crisis, makes the case why U.S. infrastructure has fallen from first place in the World Economic Forum's 2005 economic competitiveness ranking to number 15 today. The second section of the report, Losing Ground to Our Global Competitors, takes an international look at transportation infrastructure and highlights certain themes that unify our competitors' plans while setting our transportation policies apart. The third section of the report, Recommendations for Reform, contains a clear set of recommendations for moving our economy-- and the case for strategic investment in infrastructure—forward.
    Former Governor Rendell, BAFEF co-chair said, "There are always excuses to delay tough decisions, but the time has come for the U.S. to commit to a long-term infrastructure revitalization plan that invests at least $200 billion a year. It should focus on transportation but should also include our water and wastewater systems, our dams, our electric grid and our broadband system. At a time when our nation is crying out for job creation, this plan can produce millions of good-paying American jobs over a sustained period of time." Mayor Bloomberg (I-NYC), BAFEF co-chair said, "In Washington, everyone is talking about the need to fix the economy, but our long-term economic prospects will only get weaker the longer Congress allows our infrastructure to crumble. As Congress stands idly by, our competitors around the world are racing ahead -- especially when it comes to building modern transportation networks. Washington needs to get into gear transforming our infrastructure or else our economy will be stalling out for decades to come."

    The report explains how international economic competitors are sprinting ahead of the U.S. and outlines the case for creating a blueprint to transition to a high-tech transportation network for the 21st century. The report also contains many sobering statistics detailing how the U.S. is falling behind including:
  • U.S. infrastructure has fallen from first place in the World Economic Forum's 2005 economic competitiveness ranking to number 15 today; 
  • China now boasts six of the world's top ten ports -- and none of the top ten are located in the U.S.  The Shanghai port now moves more container traffic a year than the top seven U.S. ports combined;
  • The U.S. has the world's worst air traffic congestion -- a quarter of flights in the U.S. arrive more than 15 minutes late, and the national average for all delayed flights in the U.S. (about 56 minutes) is twice that of Europe's average;
  • There are more than 15,000 miles of true high-speed rail in operation around the world – essentially none of which is in the U.S.;
  • The U.S. is one of the only leading nations without a national plan for public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects or a National Infrastructure Bank to finance large-scale projects and leverage private capital.
    The final section of the report is a set of recommendations for moving the economy forward through strategic investments in infrastructure including:
  • Develop a long-term national infrastructure strategy that makes choices based on economics, not politics.
  • Pass a robust transportation bill that focuses investment on projects that will increase economic return and mobility while reducing congestion and pollution. Such a bill will put Americans back to work and make the U.S. more competitive in the global economy.
  • Be both innovative and realistic about how to pay (including the establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank) and looking at all long-term revenue generating options including congestion pricing, carbon auctions, fees based on miles traveled, and – once the economy recovers – an updated gas-tax.
  • Promote accountability and innovation by setting clear criteria for all funding; encouraging innovation by states and the country's largest cities through competitive grants; and carefully auditing the results to ensure projects are completed on time, on budget, and yielding promised results.
     Access a release from BAFEF (click here). Access the complete 48-page report (click here). Access a 4-page Executive Summary (click here). Access a 3-page fact sheet (click here). Access the BAF website for more information and background (click here). [#All]

Friday, August 05, 2011

Administration Announces Environmental Justice Strategies

Aug 4: The Obama Administration announced that Federal agencies have agreed to develop environmental justice strategies "to protect the health of people living in communities overburdened by pollution and provide the public with annual progress reports on their efforts." U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were joined by agency heads across the Administration in signing the "Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898" (EJ MOU). 

    Administrator Jackson said, "All too often, low-income, minority and Native Americans live in the shadows of our society's worst pollution, facing disproportionate health impacts and greater obstacles to economic growth in communities that can't attract businesses and new jobs. Expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice are some of my top priorities for the work of the EPA, and we're glad to have President Obama's leadership and the help of our federal partners in this important effort. Every agency has a unique and important role to play in ensuring that all communities receive the health and environmental protections they deserve. Our broad collaboration will mean real progress for overburdened communities."

    Environmental justice means that all communities overburdened by pollution -- particularly minority, low income and tribal communities -- deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the Federal decision-making process, and a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

    According to a release, the signing of the EJ MOU is the latest in a series of steps the Obama Administration has taken to elevate the environmental justice conversation and address the inequities that may be present in some communities. Last September, Jackson and Sutley reconvened the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) for the first time in more than a decade. In December, at the White House Environmental Justice Forum, Cabinet Secretaries and other senior Administration officials met with more than 100 environmental justice leaders from across the country to engage advocates on issues that are affecting their communities, including reducing air pollution, addressing health disparities, and capitalizing on emerging clean energy job opportunities. The EJ MOU reflects the dialogue, concerns and commitments made at the forum and other public events. Since her appointment, Jackson has also joined congressional leaders across the country to tour impacted communities and hear residents' concerns.

    The MOU advances agency responsibilities outlined in the 1994 Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations." The Executive Order directs each of the named Federal agencies to make environmental justice part of its mission and to work with the other agencies on environmental justice issues as members of the EJ IWG. The EJ MOU broadens the reach of the EJ IWG to include participant agencies not originally named in Executive Order 12898 and adopts an EJ IWG charter, which provides the workgroup with more structure and direction. It also formalizes the environmental justice commitments that agencies have made over the past year, providing a roadmap for agencies to better coordinate their efforts. Specific areas of focus include considering the environmental justice impacts of climate adaptation and commercial transportation, and strengthening environmental justice efforts under the National Environmental Policy Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The MOU also outlines processes and procedures to help overburdened communities more efficiently and effectively engage agencies as they make decisions.

    The following agencies signed the EJ MOU: Environmental Protection Agency; White House Council on Environmental Quality; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Justice; Department of Agriculture; Department of Commerce; Department of Defense; Department of Education; Department of Energy; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Department of Interior; Department of Labor; Department of Transportation; Department of Veterans Affairs; General Services Administration; and Small Business Administration.
    Access a release with comments from other agency heads (click here). Access the EJ MOU (click here). Access more information on the EJ IWG (click here). [#All]

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Increasing U.S. Oil Production While Safeguarding The Environment

Aug 1: A new report from the group Securing America's Energy Future (SAFE) entitled, U.S. Oil Supply Post-Macondo, provides 9 technical and detailed recommendations for increasing U.S. oil production. SAFE is a nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America's dependence on oil and improve U.S. energy security to bolster national security and strengthen the economy. SAFE, which does not accept funding from oil companies, advocates for expanded domestic production of our energy resources, continued improvement in fuel efficiency, and in the long-term, severing our reliance on oil through the electrification of the transportation sector. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing U.S. oil dependence.
    According to a release, the report finds that high oil prices and innovative development techniques are combining to place substantial new resources on the table in the United States, with potentially game-changing consequences for economic and national security. The report makes a series of recommendations designed to safely expand the production of domestic oil resources, including a series of regulatory reforms.

    The report highlights a number of positive trends supporting future U.S. oil production growth, both onshore and offshore. However, the report also details a series of existing and emerging regulatory barriers facing the domestic industry. Among other things, the report finds that policymakers could do more to promote domestic oil production while safeguarding the environment, specifically through a series of pilot programs designed to leverage technology to minimize the industry's development footprint in frontier areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and the U.S. Arctic. The report argues that the current regulatory uncertainty surrounding hydraulic fracturing poses an emerging risk to production of both shale gas and shale liquids, and it calls on industry as well as state and federal regulators to provide a more comprehensive framework for development.

    Top among the reasons to boost domestic oil production are reasons of economic and national security. According to the report, "From a national security perspective, increased self-reliance would help minimize the exposure of the United States to a crippling disruption in oil supplies brought about by turbulence in the Middle East or any other oil-supplying region. With the U.S. trade deficit in crude oil and petroleum products on pace to surpass $300 billion in 2011, producing more domestic oil would also minimize the transfer of U.S. wealth abroad."

     General James Conway, former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and member of SAFE's Energy Security Leadership Council said, "Without a question, it is in the United States' economic and national security interests to develop more of our own energy resources. For decades, our nation's energy policy has not been decided by Americans, but largely by state-owned oil exporting nations. Many of these countries are unstable, do not share our values, and in some cases, are outwardly hostile to the United States. It is time our leaders work in the short-term to develop more of our own oil resources as part of a comprehensive energy security strategy."

    According to the report, "Increased domestic oil production has clear economic and national security benefits. Recent domestic production increases aside, the United States still imports large volumes of crude oil and petroleum products. As oil prices have increased in recent years, U.S. imports have had a sharply negative impact on the current account deficit. Through the first 5 months of 2011 alone, the United States ran a $138.8 billion deficit in petroleum trade. To the extent that domestic oil production offsets the need for imports, it can help to minimize the transfer of U.S. wealth abroad. From a national security perspective, increased self reliance would help minimize the exposure of the United States to a crippling disruption in oil supplies brought about by turbulence in the Middle East or any other oil-supplying region.
    "Of course, greater energy security must be built on lessons learned. Public policy and private sector investment should be developed within a broad framework designed to accomplish at least three core objectives: increase economic security, bolster foreign policy, and safeguard natural resources. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico clearly illustrates that future policy must carefully balance each of these three core objectives -- achieving increased energy security while sacrificing
the environment is not an acceptable outcome. And yet, events around the world, from the rise of China to the Arab Spring, suggest that the U.S. economy will continue to be at risk in the absence of comprehensive energy reform, including a pathway to increased domestic production of oil and gas."
    The report makes 9 major recommendations including:
  • Initiate a pilot program in cooperation with the State of Alaska to demonstrate extended reach drilling in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
  • Implement comprehensive reform of the U.S. offshore regulatory approach, shifting from a rule-based to a goal-based approach.
  • Increase funding for BOEMRE to attract highly trained engineers and enable BOEMRE to engage with operators on equal footing.
  • Use the new regulatory approach to open frontier areas and use the experience of frontier areas to refine the new regulatory approach.
  • Implement distance-from-shore provisions designed to minimize the footprint of offshore oil and gas development in all frontier areas.
  • Initiate an "inventory-to-lease" program in frontier areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, subject to goal-based regulation.
  • Implement a system of progressive royalties for new OCS leases.
  • Create loan guarantees for the construction of CO2 pipelines from major economic and industrial centers to regions populated with oil and gas fields for use in EOR projects.
  • Establish a comprehensive approach to ensure regulatory stability for unconventional oil and gas production while also giving operators the certainty to move forward.
    U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee commended the new report and particularly the recommendation for a pilot program to demonstrate extended reach drilling in the 1002 Area of ANWR. Senator Murkowski said, "This is a concept that I have long offered as a reasonable alternative to those who oppose conventional development of the 1002 Area. While I still favor responsible production within the coastal plain, this compromise allows us to access much of the resource without the same environmental risk, making it a commonsense solution that everyone should be able to embrace." Murkowski indicated that estimates are that 10.4 billion barrels of oil are contained in the non-wilderness portion of ANWR.
    She said, "The existence of the Point Thompson project so close to the 1002 Area provides an opportunity for the industry to use extended reach drilling to develop ANWR oil without establishing a surface presence in ANWR itself and without necessarily adding substantially to the existing industry footprint on state lands. In a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, a representative from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources suggested that extended reach drilling from Point Thompson into the 1002 Area could have a major impact on production." In a release she indicated that opening ANWR to production is expected to create roughly 70,000 American jobs and the Congressional Research Service estimates that federal revenues from ANWR development could total $152.9 billion at oil prices of $100 per barrel.
    Access a release from SAFE (click here). Access the complete 48-page report (click here). Access a release from Sen. Murkowski (click here). [#Energy/OilGas]