Among the many issues covered by the President in last night’s State of the Union address one theme crept throughout President Obama’s narrative; jobs and his desire to put Americans back to work and the American economy back on track. Well, President Obama is in luck because the American energy industry has some good news…not that it is necessarily “new” news since industry has been telling anyone and everyone who would listen. Has the President not been listening? That is a topic that deserves its own discussion.
Last night the President said, “And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.” That is 3,200 jobs, and that is good news. I wholeheartedly support any and all efforts to provide work to Americans who need it. However, ongoing efforts by his party and cabinet are putting tens of thousands of existing and countless more potential jobs in jeopardy.
Yesterday, the House Natural Resources Committee held the first hearing of the 111th Congress on offshore drilling and the lapsed moratoria. The first panel, the liveliest to be sure, featured actor Ted Danson (Sam Malone, I sure did love Cheers) and Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famed Jacques Cousteau. As I watched, I was struck by the passion and language used by the panelists. Clearly they care for the ocean environment and wish to see it protected, at all costs. And that last statement really gets at the crux of my disagreement with the panel: at all costs.
When I hear that statement I take pause to consider the gravity of such a position. I think about what energy means to America, what it means to businesses on Main Street, what it means to school districts budgeting for transportation costs, and on and on down the line. The goods and services that I take for granted because I have easy access to reliable and affordable energy. Continue reading
The House leadership is currently setting the table for a very serious run at passage of climate change legislation. Today, the Boston Globe reports that Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) will be given the Chairmanship of a newly created House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, a leadership post on issues of energy and environment. Even with all the inevitable shuffling going on as the 111th Congress gets under way, this move stands out as the most recent in a trend that may make balanced energy legislation difficult to come by.
Slowly but surely, House leadership has moved to put Members with a more environmentalist bent into energy leadership positions, stacking the deck with those that share energy agenda priorities with Speaker Nancy Pelosi; folks who in the past haven’t been the friendliest towards oil and natural gas production.
The groundwork for these efforts began to be laid in the aftermath of the Democrat takeover of the House when Speaker Pelosi created the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. At worst, a cynic might say this committee set up a home for an anti-development agenda; at best it created, well, a potential challenge. Seemingly at least, the move was a clear vote of “no confidence” in then Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) by Speaker Pelosi and House leadership.
The other shoe dropped on the more moderate Dingell when he was stripped of his long held Energy and Commerce gavel and the chair was given to environmentalist friendly Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
So, to recap, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is now chaired by Waxman and the new Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment is chaired by Markey, big deal, right? Well it is.
Between their respective offices much of the legwork on House climate change legislation will be done. Much of America’s energy policy will be legislated by Members who share not only a passion for the environment but also perhaps a misunderstanding of how some of the more radical parts of the environmental agenda could affect American energy supply and its role in a robust economy. As we continue to seek a comprehensive energy plan for the country, let’s hope these men of power listen to reason and the realities of energy production and its balance with the environment, and not the fringe of their constituencies.
IPAA President and CEO Barry Russell’s op-ed, “Hurdles Remain on Energy Production” was published in yesterday’s Virginian-Pilot. The piece was also featured online at istockanalyst.com (click to view).
The following is the article as published:
Hurdles Remain on Energy Production
By BARRY RUSSELL
IT WAS Christmastime in 1981 when an obscure provision found its way into law, effectively instituting a ban on producing America’s abundant energy resources in the deep seas of the outer continental shelf (OCS). Now, 27 years after it began, Congress finally allowed the moratorium to expire.
The question is: Will it stay that way?