Tag: Energy

NAM’s Eisenberg Headlines Politico Panel

NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg participated
in an event hosted by Politico which brought together House and Senate members
along with industry leaders to discuss energy policy.

Photo by David Bohrer, NAM

Photo by David Bohrer, NAM

The event, entitled Energy Policy and the 113th Congress, included discussions
on energy independence, national energy security and international trade of
energy.

During the panel, Eisenberg highlighted manufacturers’ support of the
Portman-Shaheen energy efficiency legislation and called on Congress to act on
the measure.

He also touched on the President’s Climate Action Plan, specifically his
proposal to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act.

Recently,the NAM announced a coalition of over 80 organizations and 26 states who are
coming together to advocate for a commonsense approach to GHG policies in order
to ensure the continued availability of affordable and reliable energy for
American families and businesses.

When asked about the Keystone XL Pipeline, Eisenberg stated plainly that it’s
time for the President to keep his promise to cut red tape and approve this
job-creating infrastructure project.

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Ambassador Kirk Joins CASEnergy Coalition

Earlier today the CASEnergy Coalition introduced Ambassador Ron Kirk as the new co-chair. Ambassador Kirk’s experience as the U.S. Trade Ambassador will provide the coalition with important insights on job-training programs, careers in the nuclear industry and the importance of access to global markets.  CASEnergy’s mission is to work with its partners and member to better help education the public on the benefits and importance of nuclear power.

Nuclear energy plays an important role in our country’s energy mix by providing almost 20 percent of electricity. Nuclear energy is clean, sustainable and will be an integral part of our energy portfolio for years to come. Nuclear energy jobs are good jobs and we need to train the next generation of nuclear workers.

Ambassador Kirk understands the need to create jobs and the role that expanding our overseas markets will play in that job creation process. He will be a strong, respected voice with the Obama Administration and Congress. The NAM is excited to have him as part of the nuclear energy team and looks forward to continuing to work with Governor Whitman, Ambassador Kirk and CASEnergy on all of these issues.

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Time for a True All-of-the-Above Energy Policy

Forbes contributor David Blackmon wrote an article recently entitled “The Best Energy Policy Is the Least Energy Policy.” In the article, Mr. Blackmon makes many interesting points in regards to the federal government’s energy policy.

The President has focused a great deal of energy trying to pick winners and losers in the energy sector, yet during his State of the Union address, he singled out the natural gas revolution the country has enjoyed while highlighting his administration’s positive role in this boom.  This claim is remarkable given the administration’s effort to regulate hydraulic fracturing and their hesitation to expand oil and gas exploration on federal lands, both on shore and off shore. It is important to note that most of the exploration and production of natural gas has taken place on private and state lands where the federal government’s regulatory arm cannot reach.

The President made a great show of claiming to support all-of-the-above energy policy and, as Blackmon points out, the administration continues to ramp up emissions regulations on coal fire power plants and soon others.  The President has denied that there is a war on coal and yet scores of power plants have either been closed or have announced that they will close within the next couple of years.

Mr. Blackmon goes on to point out that the President claims he wants to continue to work with the oil and gas industry to make sure production and job growth continue, yet he talks about using his Presidential authority to put more federal lands off limits and increase the tax burden on the energy sector.

If our economy is going to grow and become energy self-sufficient we need the federal government to work with the energy industry to find ways to explore, produce and transport energy in a safe and reliable way. We don’t need the federal government to throw up roadblocks and hurdles and to drive up the cost of energy. As my dad would say, “If you are not part of the solution then you must be the problem!”

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President Makes Bold Promises on Energy; Must Balance Commitment to All-Of-The-Above Strategy with Reasonable Regulations

The President wisely made energy a focus of tonight’s State of the Union address. As well he should: energy is a bright spot in our economy, and with the right policies our competitive advantage on energy can only grow.

Some of the ideas proposed by the President tonight make a lot of sense. The unconventional oil and gas boom has unlocked millions of jobs–many of these in manufacturing in sectors like iron, steel, fertilizer, cement, chemicals and plastics–and the President appears ready to commit real resources to making sure this renaissance continues. He makes strong commitments to energy efficiency–initiatives like a $1 billion performance contracting initiative that comes on the heels of a very successful $2 billion program from 2011-2013 that created manufacturing jobs and saved energy. Perhaps most importantly, the President seems ready to finally make the kind of changes to the permitting process for infrastructure projects that will speed these projects up, get shovels in the ground, and reduce red tape.

That said, it’s hard to reconcile the broad, sweeping promises in speeches like this one with the aggressive–and often conflicting–regulatory agenda put into place by the Administration. Regulations like the greenhouse gas standards praised by the President, which threaten to phase out many of the fuels driving our energy renaissance. Or Ozone, a regulation that by the Administration’s own estimate would cost as much as $90 billion per year. Or the calcified permitting process that continues to plague the Keystone XL pipeline, energy exports and countless energy and infrastructure projects across the country.

And so much will depend on execution. The President has promised to fix permitting and red tape before, but many of the reforms fell short. He’s repeatedly called for an all-of-the-above policy, but in practice it’s really been some-of-the-above. Coal, nuclear, hydropower and others deserve to be part of the equation, alongside oil, gas, renewables and energy efficiency. Yet many of these words were not uttered in tonight’s speech.

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Senate Leader Takes Action on GHG Regs

Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY )introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution disapproving of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for new power plants. It has now been almost two years since the Administration first proposed requiring carbon capture and sequestration at all new coal-fired power plants. And for two years the manufacturers of CCS systems and the utilities that will ultimately be responsible for installing the systems have consistently articulated that the technology is not ready.

Through official comments in rulemaking, congressional testimony and meetings with regulators the messages have been consistent: 1. we need more time to develop the technology; and 2. establishing these regulations as they are written will halt the development of the next generation of power plant technologies in the United States, ceding these technologies to our international competitors.

It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but manufacturers are glad to see that Senator McConnell is not backing down. With the right policies in place, U.S. manufacturers will develop the technologies that lead to a sustainable energy future.

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Manufacturers Support Bipartisan Effort on GHGs

Today, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Electricity Security and Affordability Act in the House and Senate. The bipartisan legislation would set some logical perimeters on what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can require under its greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for power plants. The bill addresses some of manufacturers’ biggest concerns, namely that the Administration is mandating compliance requirements that cannot be met with commercially available technologies. On November 14, 2013, the NAM’s Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy, Ross Eisenberg, expressed support for this legislation at a House Energy and Commerce, Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing:

“Manufacturers stand ready to work with the sponsors of this legislation to attract broad, bipartisan support and ultimately to enact it. The bill would give manufacturers regulatory certainty by preserving a true “all-of-the-above” energy policy. For new power plants, it allows the market to govern—with or without the EPA’s rule, most new plants in the near term will be natural gas—but it protects against potential market shifts by providing reasonable options to build new coal plants if natural gas prices change. It would give utilities and manufacturers the time they need to make the investments necessary to comply with standards for new and existing power plants. In addition, it provides for real checks and balances on the existing plant rule, ensuring that this highly important, first-of-its-kind set of regulations is carried out in a deliberative, bipartisan fashion.”

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EPA Publishes GHG Regulations

Today, the EPA published in the Federal Register its proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for new power plants. In this proposed rule, EPA has elected the most restrictive and expensive regulatory path based on, at best, a liberal interpretation of the Clean Air Act. A similar interpretation under a different set of GHG rules is now the subject of a Supreme Court case to be argued in February.

Pushing beyond the limits of their regulatory authority in attempts to enact the most aggressive rules possible inevitably requires intervention from the courts and leaves manufacturers in a land of perpetual regulatory uncertainty. Of great concern to manufacturers is the precedent this rule sets for the pending rule on existing power plants and future GHG regulations for other industrial sectors.

While manufacturers continue to believe that the Clean Air Act is the wrong tool for addressing GHGs, within this regulatory regime there is room for the Administration to achieve its policy goals without setting unachievable standards. The NAM encourages the Administration to adopt a more reasonable approach in the final rule.

 

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Texas Methanol Plant Re-opens Doors Thanks To Shale Boom

LyondellBasell Industries announced recently that it will re-open its methanol plant in Channelview, Texas, just nine years after shutting it down. The company attributes its decision to re-invest in the facility to low natural gas prices spurred by the recent shale boom.

This project is one in a long list of new investments being spurred by widespread domestic development of natural gas.

According to a recent report sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, this activity will spur economic growth and job creation for years to come, supporting millions of jobs, increasing household incomes, boosting trade and contributing to a new increase in U.S. competitiveness around the world.

Unfortunately, this growth is not a foregone conclusion. Overreach by state and federal lawmakers and regulators could slow this progress and, in the worst case, stop it.

To realize our full energy potential, we need government policies that support the continued development of oil and gas resources, energy infrastructure projects and manufacturing growth so companies like LyondellBasell can continue to make new investments and create jobs here in the US.

 

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Enriching our Nuclear Capabilities

Almost 20 percent of electricity consumed in this country is generated by nuclear power plants. That percent has remained relatively steady over the last 30 years. Today in the United States we are building additional nuclear power plants and worldwide there are over 173 power plants that are either under construction or in the planning process. Interestingly enough, about 100 of those plants are scheduled to be built in various countries in Asia (59 are in China).

For fuel, these plants use low-enriched uranium (LEU), which only a small number of countries produce for export, according to a November 2013 Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) report entitled “Recapturing U.S. Leadership in Uranium Enrichment.” The United States’ ability to produce LEU has steadily decreased during the past 30 years and today, for the first time in approximately 60 years, we have no ability to produce LEU using American technology. According to the CSIS report, about 85 percent of our LEU needs are met by other countries. There are a number of reasons for this as outlined in the report, but the fact remains that for strategic and energy purposes the United States needs to maintain the capacity to produce LEU.

USEC Inc. is working to bring the next generation of enrichment technology to market. The American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio holds great promise and is successfully completing a 19-month research, development, and demonstration program with the Department of Energy.  America needs its own technology to produce LEU not only for our energy security and non-proliferation purposes but for national security needs, which by law and treaty can only be met with indigenous U.S. technology.

The CSIS report lays this out in great detail and provides a detailed analysis of the current global state of uranium enrichment. If we are truly going to support an “all of the above” energy approach then we must have a strong and competitive nuclear energy supply chain and that includes nuclear fuel from American technology for our power plants.

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Energy Boom Driving a Sustainable Manufacturing Renaissance

There has been a lot of news recently highlighting the U.S. energy boom and its impact on a manufacturing renaissance. A recent report by the global research firm IHS estimated that by 2020 the unconventional (think hydraulic fracturing) oil and gas value chain will support 3.3 million jobs. The American Chemistry Council has estimated that the energy boom is playing a central role in the development of 136 new U.S. manufacturing plants representing $91 billion in investments. And in November, Automatic Data Processing reported that manufacturers added 18,000 jobs, the fastest pace the sector has experienced since February 2012.

Not to be forgotten in all of this good news, is the focus U.S. manufacturers are placing on growing sustainably. Across the country manufacturers are making investments in equipment and processes allowing goods to be produced more efficiently and with a commitment to reducing their environmental footprint.

Last week CF Industries released its first-ever sustainability report highlighting some of the company’s impressive accomplishments in sustainability. CF Industries is a manufacturer and distributor of fertilizers that provide nutrients essential to increasing the yield and quality of crops grown throughout the world. Fertilizers play a critical role in replenishing nutrients to soil necessary to grow enough food on available cropland to feed the world’s growing population. Fertilizer manufacturing also happens to be an industry that is benefiting from the energy boom – natural gas is a key ingredient to making all synthetically-produced nitrogen fertilizers.

In part attributable to the U.S. energy boom, CF Industries is investing $3.8 billion in new, state-of-the-art nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing facilities, using the most advanced, energy efficient equipment to convert natural gas into nitrogen fertilizer. These new facilities will be online in 2015 or 2016, and will help continue the company’s consistent trend of producing more fertilizer with fewer inputs and a smaller environmental footprint.

As manufacturing continues its resurgence in the U.S., we should be encouraged that this growth will be driven by manufacturers that are committed to sustainable growth and environmental stewardship.

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