Posted July 1, 2016
When you see the significant economic, consumer and climate benefits to the U.S. from increased use of natural gas, it’s quite a puzzle when some won’t take “yes” for an answer – yes to lower energy costs, yes to infrastructure jobs, yes to carbon emissions reductions. Unfortunately for Massachusetts residents, that’s the path the state legislature appears to be taking. More below. First, a review of how clean-burning natural gas is making life better across the rest of the country.
Let’s start with reduced household energy costs, which are helping to lower Americans’ cost of living, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In constant 2015 dollars, EIA says average annual energy costs per household peaked at about $5,300 in 2008 then declined 14.1 percent in 2014.
Posted May 10, 2016
We’ve written a number of posts recently on U.S. climate gains from increased use of clean-burning natural gas (see here, here and here). Domestic natural gas is the main reason the U.S. is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions – underscored by government data this week showing that energy-associated emissions in 2015 were 12 percent lower than 2005 levels.
Yet, some continue to miss the role natural gas is playing in U.S. climate progress. Instead of declaring victory, some continue to rally, protest and campaign against natural gas and its infrastructure – opposing the very thing that is achieving what they want. Unfortunately, they’re impacting public policy along the way.
Nowhere is there a better illustration of this negative impact than in New York state.
Posted May 2, 2016
This wonderful domestic energy abundance and the global LNG market opportunities could be impacted by challenges facing infrastructure expansion here at home. America needs more energy infrastructure to move domestic supply to all areas of the country, for residential consumers, power generators and manufacturers. Yet, without stronger high-level backing, we could see these infrastructure needs delayed or rejected, as occurred last month with the proposed Constitution natural gas pipeline in New York.
Americans overwhelmingly support more energy infrastructure, and there appears to be bipartisan consensus for it in Congress. But infrastructure projects are being targeted by a vocal minority – even though increased domestic use of natural gas is the leading reason the United States is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions. A key going forward is gaining infrastructure support from the White House and the administration, said Marty Durbin, API’s executive director for market development.
Posted April 25, 2016
During a speech last week to labor union officials, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked big about the need for big infrastructure in this country. Gov. Cuomo mentioned the building of the Erie Canal in the 1800s, the interstate highway system that was launched in the 1950s and the construction of big bridges. The North America’s Building Trades Unions audience cheered and clapped warmly when Cuomo called for the vision and leadership needed for America to once again build big infrastructure:
“We built this nation into the greatest nation on the globe with our hands and sweat. That was the American way. We were tough, we were gutsy, we were daring, and there was no challenge that we wouldn’t take on, and we built this country and we regained that spirit of energy and positivity and ambition. … We can do these big projects. We did do these big projects … The George Washington Bridge, the Verrazano Bridge, hundreds of miles of subway system under New York, an 80-mile aqueduct built in the 1800s just to get water to New York City. We never said no …”
The next day, Cuomo’s administration said no – to the proposed $683 million Constitution natural gas pipeline. No to infrastructure – privately financed at that. No to the construction jobs wanted by the folks who cheered the governor the day before. No to consumers in New York state, who’d benefit from abundant, clean-burning natural gas, piped into a number of the state’s southern counties from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale.
And some wonder why so many Americans are cynical about politicians.
Posted April 20, 2016
Americans in the building construction trades know the importance of new energy infrastructure. Building things is what they do. In recent years they’ve recognized the value of partnering with the oil and natural gas industry on infrastructure projects to deliver energy, create jobs and boost the economy – all benefits of America’s ongoing energy revolution.
At this week’s Washington legislative conference of North America’s Building Trades Union, NABTU President Sean McGarvey listed energy infrastructure among the union’s top priorities in 2016 and noted the importance of forming partnerships to advance shared goals, such as infrastructure:
“There are other ways, too, in which our unions are building that go beyond the jobsite, such as building a new labor-management paradigm in the United States through formal partnerships with entire industries and individual companies.”
Nowhere is this dynamic more timely and important than in the effort to build new natural gas pipelines in the Northeast, where constricted capacity historically has contributed to higher energy costs during peak winter months.
Posted April 8, 2016
Great discussion this week at a program focused on the role of natural gas in America’s future economy, hosted by the Hudson Institute. The discussion couldn’t have been timelier, given surging U.S. natural gas production and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s recent projection that for the first time ever, natural gas will be the United States’ No. 1 fuel source for electricity generation this year.
Yet, the natural gas discussion quickly, necessarily, turns into a conversation about building new gas infrastructure – needed to serve areas that for lack of infrastructure are either isolated from the resource or the supply is significantly constrained, impacting utilities, consumers and businesses.
Posted January 8, 2016
The United States is overdue for a fact-based conversation about energy infrastructure. The needs are great. IHS estimates that needed energy infrastructure through the middle of the next decade could spur $1.15 trillion in private capital investment and support more than 1 million jobs. But there are roadblocks.
The long fight over the Keystone XL pipeline has anti-progress, anti-fossil fuel advocates targeting other needed projects. During his State of American Energy 2016 remarks this week, API President and CEO Jack Gerard warned that ideological opposition to infrastructure will hurt the United States:
“The demonization of the Keystone XL pipeline remains a powerful cautionary tale of the dangers of energy policy driven by ideology rather than economic reality and has a chilling effect on expansion efforts for our nation’s energy infrastructure. That’s not just bad national energy policy. It is also bad news for our nation’s economy.”
Thus the need for a rational conversation about the country’s infrastructure needs that’s based on fact. Such as: America’s more than 199,000 miles of liquid pipelines deliver about 16 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products a year, with a safety rate of 99.999 percent. And another: Industry keeps working toward a goal of zero incidents by continually improving safety in the infrastructure sector.
Posted November 12, 2015
Another postscript to the president’s unfortunate and shortsighted rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline last week: The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that as total U.S. crude oil imports decline, Canada’s share of the imports total is rising.
The data shows that in August 1995 the U.S. imported a total of 7.43 million barrels per day (bb/d), including a little over 1 million bb/d from Canada, about 13 percent of the total. In August this year U.S. oil imports were 7.63 million bb/d (down from a high of 10.7 million bb/d in June 2005), including 3.4 million bb/d from Canada, about 45 percent of the total. (At the same time imports from Venezuela, which produces a heavy crude similar to oil sands crude, have declined from 1.29 million bb/d in 2004 to 849,000 bb/d in August – no doubt, a result of increasing supply from Canada.)
What we see here is a snapshot of the strategically important growth in the United States’ energy partnership with Canada. Our neighbor and ally is our No. 1 source of imported oil – almost three times larger than imports from Persian Gulf countries.
Posted November 10, 2015
It’s too bad that when President Obama finally announced his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, he turned his back on American jobs, economic growth and increased energy security – each of them compelling, “national interest” reasons for building the pipeline. Also unfortunate is that the president also turned his back on science and fact.
Read the State Department’s final word on Keystone XL, and you see that State, as it said in its previous environmental reviews, acknowledges that the pipeline would have little to no climate impact.
The Keystone XL rejection was about perceptions and appearances – perceptions the president and his administration created, detached from science and fact set forth in State’s analysis, to help cultivate the appearances of climate change leadership.
Throughout Keystone XL’s tortuous, seven-year slog at the White House, the pipeline – this pipeline – was a symbol, a foil the administration used to help keep the professional activist class activated and the world climate community applauding.
Posted August 28, 2015
There’s a new report out this week that says energy infrastructure constraints have cost New England at least $7.5 billion over the past three winters – while cautioning that failing to expand natural gas and electricity infrastructure will cost the region’s households and businesses $5.4 billion in higher energy costs between 2016 and 2020.
Other key findings in the report by the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy show that without additional infrastructure, higher energy costs will lead to the loss of 52,000 private-sector jobs over the same time period. In all, a lack of infrastructure investment could mean 167,000 jobs lost or not created. The report also found that the region could see a reduction in household spending of $12.5 billion and $9 billion in foregone infrastructure construction.