It has been ten years since Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates the use of biofuels such as ethanol. Rep. Billy Long of Missouri has an excellent op-ed examining the ways this legislation failed to live up to expectations:
Despite their pure intentions, 2007 policymakers’ economic predictions have proven inaccurate and the overall program has fallen short. Concerns over gasoline usage decline have taken priority over those of inflated fuel demands, and innovations of new cellulosic biofuels has come more sluggishly than hoped. The Environmental Protection Agency has continuously adjusted the mandated fuel additive volumes downward in light of lower demands.
So while dependence on foreign oil sources declined as hoped, RFS cannot claim credit. Also, experts like those from the National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Congressional Budget Office cannot conclude that renewable fuels have delivered on lessened greenhouse gases.
As Rep. Long points out, the RFS has not worked as predicted. In fact, its ethanol mandate could cause significant problems for consumers.
It is good to see growing bipartisan support in Congress to address these issues. One bill, HR 5180, would cap the amount of ethanol that must be blended into our fuel. This legislation is a good start to begin fixing this flawed mandate. Have you asked your member of Congress to support it?
Happy New Year! We’re excited about the opportunities in 2017 for Energy Citizens to support job creation, strengthen our nation’s security, and keep energy affordable.
All eyes are now on Washington, but the fact is that we must prepare for challenges across the states. As part of a larger effort to shut down American oil and natural gas, anti-energy activist plan to battle critical pipeline projects and pro-energy policies at the local level.
“The opposition is going to be much more local, much more focused.” — Anti-Energy Leader Jane Kleeb
But communicating to government alone will not win the day. We also need to reach out to members of our communities… to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and our social networks. It’s important that we talk about why energy is important to us and why we need policies and leadership that support American energy development.
The impact of the shale revolution is profound because the economic growth it continues to produce is not confined to any single region of the U.S. Cheap natural gas is strengthening energy security across the country and is fueling a resurgence in manufacturing – particularly the most energy-intensive industrial products, such as iron and steel, bulk chemicals, petrochemicals, plastics, cement, petroleum refining, glass, paper and food products.
Why is shale gas production so important to manufacturing? It’s because manufacturing is very energy-intensive. With more shale gas being produced here, it has lowered the cost of energy for American manufacturers:
Adjusted for inflation, the cost of electricity to industrial users in the U.S. is lower this year than almost any year in history. Compared to 2008 in the early days of the shale revolution, industrial electricity prices are 17 percent lower today. That’s because virtually every new power plant constructed in recent years has been fueled with natural gas. Gas plants are relatively inexpensive to build, and gas prices are projected to remain low for many decades.
During the election year we heard a lot about creating more American jobs. Let’s make sure to ask the candidates where they stand on natural gas production and the use of natural gas in power generation. If they don’t advocate for pro-energy policies or for allowing markets, not government mandates or incentives to dictate our power generation mix, it’s hard to see how they can be serious about job growth in the U.S. For our economy to continue to grow, we need to make sure that candidates running this year support oil and gas production and the market-driven use of more natural gas to generate electricity.
We shouldn’t allow discussions about energy infrastructure to be distorted by myths and scare tactics.
For example, you may hear someone say that pipelines cost farmers their livelihood because land with underground pipelines is no longer suitable for farming or ranching.
This just isn’t true. Once a pipeline has been built and the land above it is restored, farmers can resume growing crops and raising livestock on the land. And farmers are compensated for disruptions that occur during the building phase.
Expanded pipeline infrastructure will also help keep natural gas affordable, which benefits American farmers. Natural gas is essential for modern agriculture, serving as a fuel for operations and a building block for fertilizer.
In discussions of America’s energy future, it’s important to separate myths and facts. Activists who want to limit or even stop energy development use misinformation to advance their agenda. Let’s fight back with the facts.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about energy infrastructure in North Dakota.
Case in point: water safety. Energy infrastructure poses a very low risk to water resources.
Energy traveling via pipeline reaches its destination without incident 99.99% of the time. Advanced materials, expert engineering, and continuous monitoring keep water safe.
In addition, special federal regulations and industry practices are applied when pipelines cross beneath waterways. While there have been isolated incidents, pipeline operators continue to advance protections toward the goal of zero incidents.
Anti-energy activists promote myths in an attempt to block energy development in North Dakota, delay projects, and drive up costs. Going forward, we hope you’ll join with other energy advocates to fight myths with facts.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is the first priority of the new Congress.
We’ve been waiting for this Pipeline for six years now. It’s time our elected officials do the right thing and vote yes! It’s extremely important that all Energy Citizens send their Members of Congress a letter today to tell them:
There is no reason to stand in the way of American energy security.
There is no reason to play politics with Keystone XL.
On September 29, the Bismarck Tribune released in article in which Governor Jack Dalrymple is quoted speaking against Measure 5, an amendment to the state's constitution that requires the government to set aside $4.8 billion on conservation over the next 25 years – on top of the $372 million already spent on conservation in North Dakota each year, even if schools, roads, and veterans programs need the money more.
"Dalrymple said he doesn’t believe the state should address its demands for conservation via constitutional measure," and, instead, expressed support for changes in funding through traditional budget allocations, which do not "add significantly to the state’s ongoing budget obligations."
Energy Citizens couldn't agree more. Measure 5 is an extreme – and permanent – measure by which special interests would be allowed to put their priorities ahead of infrastructure needs and essential services so many North Dakota families rely on.
On April 16th Energy Citizens had an opportunity to meet with the Somali Community Association of Ohio, which represents the nation’s second largest Somali population. More than 15 individuals attended a roundtable to learn more about Energy Citizens and the economic impact the natural gas industry and energy policies are having here in Ohio and across the nation.
Attendees ranged in age from early twenties to middle-age and had a variety of concerns and interests. Many of the older participants were more focused on the economic impact and business opportunities which result from energy development, while the younger individuals seemed to concentrate more on natural gas being a cleaner energy source. Overall, the group was very receptive to mission of Energy Citizens. As a result of this meeting, our coordinator was able to recruit a number of new Energy Citizens and we look forward to continuing our conversation.
An interesting debate took place in the North Dakota legislature in March, as lawmakers considered – and ultimately rejected – a reduction in the state’s oil extraction tax. The proposal included measures that would have eliminated some 1980s-era tax breaks for oil companies as well.
Here’s an article explaining what went on in the legislature, including the arguments of both backers and opponents.
And a blog post that questions the figures used by tax cut detractors.
But this bill brings up the larger question of what is really the smart thing to do when taxing energy? Do higher taxes bring in more money, or do they discourage production and investment, ultimately diminishing revenues?
The API released a study on this question a couple of years ago. It found increased access was the real driver of tax revenue, as well as jobs and energy production. Higher taxes had the opposite effect.
Apparently the old saying, “If you want less of something, tax it” is never truer than when applied to domestic energy production. Something for other state legislatures to keep in mind when they consider their own tax hikes.
The ready availability of light, sweet crude oil from the North Dakota Bakken Shale formation is triggering dramatic change in the energy industry. American-made oil is replacing African imports for Gulf refiners; the U.S. met 83 percent of its energy demand from domestic sources through the first five months of the year, the most since 1991.
But domestic production is changing more than just the oil business. Delta Air Lines now has plans to refine their own jet fuel, and intends to get about 80 percent of it from domestic sources.
The economic stimulus provided by energy production is propelling other sectors of the North Dakota economy as well. Many business and political leaders believe North Dakota could be the next “Silicon Prairie.”
And of course, local economies and residents are feeling the beneficial effects of oil and natural gas production. Higher enrollment because of the oil boom is bringing the Grafton, ND school district an additional $250,000 for teachers and facilities this year.
There are certainly challenges in the oil patch, but they pale in comparison to the opportunities. Domestic energy production is doing great things in North Dakota, and around the nation.