Posted November 13, 2014
Bipartisanship was the unifying theme from lawmakers and panelists during an event on the intersection of energy and policy earlier today, hosted by The Hill. With the midterm elections over, it’s clear “energy ultimately prevailed,” API President and CEO Jack Gerard said, starting the discussion of what the future holds for energy in the next Congress. Gerard:
“Energy should not be a partisan issue, and while the election played out in a Republican/Democrat-type dynamic, ultimately we believe energy prevailed. Energy was a key issue in a lot of races across the country and it’s clear the American public is growing in their support of energy, especially oil and natural gas.”
Indeed, the U.S. – and the 114th Congress -- has a unique energy opportunity. When looking back even just five or six years ago, no one predicted America’s energy revolution after decades of energy scarcity. Fast-forward to today: We live in an era of rich abundance and ample oil and natural gas resources. America is now in a position to become the world’s energy superpower thanks to industry technology and innovation.
The key to continuing this revolution? Good energy policies that encourage development, create jobs and stimulate our economy. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky discussed the need for regulatory certainty to continue America’s energy growth:
“We believe stimulating the economy and creating jobs is one of the number one issues facing our country. There have been a lot of obstacles to economic growth due to uncertainties created by the Obama administration… related to regulations of the energy sector.”
Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat from Texas, has seen the benefits that hydraulic fracturing has brought to communities in his district – jobs, revenue and lower costs. He echoed a bipartisan goal for the upcoming Congress:
“When it comes to energy issues, we need to try and find a point to where they’re not as partisan as they’ve been recently. It really is in the best interest of the country long-term that we take these energy issues seriously, that we figure out ways to plan for the growth we’re going to have in our country.”
Though installment of the new Congress is weeks away, the Keystone XL pipeline is the talk of Washington. The Senate went back into session this week and its first post-election debate centered on the pipeline. As Gerard said Keystone XL represents an opportunity for lawmakers and President Obama:
“Keystone XL will be the first real test of the president to see if he’s listening to the American public. Will the president join in the new opportunity to do what many of the American public told their elected officials: quit bickering, quit polarizing, let’s focus on what’s best for the country.”
Tom Hassenboehler, majority chief counsel for the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and Ryan Bernstein, Sen. John Hoeven’s chief of staff, noted the bipartisan push to approve the pipeline project after more than six years of delay and five environmental reviews. Both chambers of Congress are expected to vote on legislation advancing Keystone XL in the next two weeks, so stay tuned.
Both the House and Senate Energy Committees are set to take up further discussion of LNG exports as the shale revolution continues to set records in natural gas production. America stands to become a leading player in the global LNG market, and consumers would reap the benefits. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois said he’s “all in for exports,” highlighting the benefits not only to U.S. consumers, but to the global market. Shimkus:
“Exports are a game-changer for the world’s energy market. LNG can help Baltic nations free themselves from Russian energy extortion.”
With the just-announced U.S.-China climate proposal, panelists agreed emissions reductions will be a hot topic in the upcoming Congress. Yet, U.S. carbon emissions are at a 20-year low thanks to increased use of clean-burning natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, not because of government policies. This progress on reducing emissions is something the rest of the world can imitate. Former White House energy advisor Heather Zichal:
“For the United States perspective, being able to go to the table, showing that we’ve already made significant progress in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions… the fact that we are driving down emissions reductions and the fact that we are able to do that in a way that is consumer friendly but also is helping to create jobs and invest in America…”
More takeaways from the panelists:
- “The strength of our economy is built on the back of the oil and natural gas industry.”- Shimkus
“Ultimately, while the elections changed a lot, prices matter more.” – Jennifer Dlouhy, The Houston Chronicle
“In the last six years, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry added roughly $300 billion a year to the U.S. GDP. Without which the U.S. would have been in a recession for all but one of those years.” – Mark Mills, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
- “Supply can be slow and demand can be sticky, but politics can be persistently changing.” – Kevin Book, ClearView Energy Partners
“I see a huge upside for the exportation of LNG (liquefied natural gas).” - Veasey
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Schaper is a Digital Communications Manager for the American Petroleum Institute. She previously worked on Capitol Hill for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Digital Director and for Senator Lisa Murkowski. Before coming to D.C., she spearheaded digital strategy for Murkowski's successful Senate write-in campaign in 2010. Schaper enjoys traveling and taking in the local culture alongside her husband, their son and loyal springer spaniel.