Today, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said to expect a House of Representatives vote on expanded oil drilling in coming months. The bill would allow new offshore leases and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to partly fund infrastructure projects. Although Boehner called these projects “high-priority,” last fall, House Republicans blocked $60 billion to finance needed infrastructure requested in President Obama’s jobs act.
After halting payments at the end of December, BP’s $20 billion fund resumed payments to eligible victims from the April 2010 oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil well. Earlier, a federal court in Louisiana asked the fund, called the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, to pay 6 percent of the gross amount into an escrow account to cover certain legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. The fund has paid $6.14 billion to individuals and businesses harmed by the disaster as of December 1. The cleanup from the massive spill was still ongoing this summer when BP declared that “recovery had occurred,” and in December, Shell spilled 13,000 gallons of oil and drilling fluid near the site of the Deepwater Horizon well.
House GOP Sets Countdown Clock For Keystone Pipeline Decision, Ignoring Project’s Actual Job Creation Potential
To pressure President Obama on deciding about the Keystone XL pipeline, House Republicans unveiled a clock counting how long it has been since Obama signed legislation requiring him to make a decision about the pipeline in 60 days. “Will President Obama choose jobs and energy security for America?” says the countdown clock unveiled Wednesday by GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “America is waiting for President Obama’s decision.” But the potential jobs created will hardly have an impact for a massive pipeline that could severely damage the environment. The only independent analysis conducted of the American job-creation potential of the Keystone XL pipeline finds that between 500 and 1,400 temporary local construction jobs will be created, and even the State Department’s more generous estimate, compiled by a TransCanada contractor, was for 5,000 temporary jobs.
The New York Times today has a quick run down of the biggest applause lines Rick Perry receives out on the campaign trail in Iowa. The Times reports that the crowd at one of Perry’s speeches “perked up” when the Texas governor talked energy and oil. “Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Perry said, adding that buying so much energy from foreign countries is “not good policy, it’s not good politics and frankly it‘s un-American.” (HT: JerAHolden)
CAPAF’s Public Lands Project today released an original video on Think Progress highlighting this year’s top oddest and dirtiest moments in the House Committee on Natural Resources.
From the beginning of the 112th Congress, it was suspected that Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) would lead the committee on an “oil above all” mission, and that proved to be the case — 20 out of 65 oversight hearings were held on how to do more oil and gas drilling, while just four were held on spurring renewable energy development. Hearings weren’t the only way Republicans attempted to prioritize the bottom line of their corporate contributors over the public lands that belong to all Americans — indeed, they went so far as to push extreme measures to mine uranium next to the Grand Canyon and deny the existence of an entire industry of green jobs, both of which are shown in this video.
The House of Representatives in the 112th Congress as a whole has the dubious distinction of being “the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress,” averaging more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011. Much of that legislation started in the House Committee on Natural Resources, where CAPAF’s Public Lands Project spent the year highlighting mistruths about oil and gas subsidies, exposing nefarious motivations for mining and drilling our public lands, and standing up for policies that protect the lands that belong to all of us.
The annual average oil price of global benchmark Brent crude for 2011 is by far the highest ever at $111, even when adjusted for inflation. A new analysis from IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates finds that oil prices have never been higher, going all the way back to the birth of the oil age in 1860. The $111 average oil price is far higher than the previous high of about $99 in 2008 ($97 in 2011 dollars). The United States has been somewhat insulated from the rise by a glut of Canadian tar sands oil, but producers are working to build pipelines like Keystone XL to export the oil and raise prices.
Tea Party Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) castigated electric cars on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show today, expressing his adamant opposition because, in the freshman’s words, “this is science that doesn’t make sense.”
Kelly, who was a wealthy car dealer before winning election in 2010, and Liddy spent the majority of the interview trading barbs about the Chevy Volt, a landmark American electric car produced by General Motors.
The Pennsylvania Republican said that the government ought not to help fund innovative renewable energy projects like the Volt because the “science [is] way out in front of the market.” Kelly went on to explain that “this is science that doesn’t make sense,” despite the fact that electric car technology has existed for nearly a century and was first developed by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He later declared that House Republicans “want to pull the plug on electric cars”:
KELLY: My problem with the Volt sir, and you and I have had this conversation. This is science that’s way out in front of the market. This is science that doesn’t make sense.
Listen to it:
Kelly’s opposition to subsidies appears to only include clean, renewable energies. In July, Kelly defended federal subsidies for oil and gas companies because “we want companies to be profitable.” The Tea Party Republican holds millions of dollars worth of stocks in Pennsylvania oil and gas companies.
In short, Kelly opposes funding clean energy projects because the science “doesn’t make sense,” but supports funding dirty energy because we want oil and gas companies “to be profitable.”
Conservatives would have you believe that President Obama has led “nothing short of a war on American energy,” as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in May, repeating a common refrain. “Obama is waging war on American energy,” GOP presidential front runner Newt Gingrich agreed. Fellow candidate Rick Perry said Obama’s “draconian” energy policies don’t let Americans create energy “and sell it to the world.” “All of this killing of our energy supply,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), perhaps the industry’s biggest apologist in Congress. Of course, when conservatives say “energy,” they mean oil and fossil fuels, as they themselves have led a real war against American clean energy.
But like many conservative attacks on the president, the war on American energy is a fiction. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal reports today, U.S. exports of fossil fuels “are soaring” and the U.S. is on pace to be “a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years”:
According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday, the U.S. sent abroad 753.4 million barrels of everything from gasoline to jet fuel in the first nine months of this year, while it imported 689.4 million barrels.
That the U.S. is shipping out more fuel than it brings in is significant because the nation has for decades been a voracious energy consumer. It took in huge quantities of not only crude oil from the Middle East but also refined fuels from Europe, Latin America and elsewhere to help run its factories and cars. [...]
The reversal raises the prospect of the U.S. becoming a major provider of various types of energy to the rest of the world, a status that was once virtually unthinkable. The U.S. already exports vast amounts of coal, and companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. are pursuing or exploring plans to liquefy newly abundant natural gas and send it overseas.
This is, of course, good news, even though much of it has to do with the faltering U.S. economy, which has driven down demand for fuel. But the new data also demonstrates the absurdity of conservative energy policy, which starts with the (baseless) assumption that domestic fossil fuel production is too low and follows that it must be incentivized with taxpayer dollars and licenses to pollute and bend labor safety rules in order to increase output.
Meanwhile, U.S. oil production is up, despite Obama’s mythical war against the industry. American drivers have seen little benefit from this, however, because prices are set in a global market, where quickly developing countries are driving up demand and thus prices. So increasing production here would have negligible impact on prices as American refineries would just ship their product abroad where it could fetch higher prices.