Progressive Policy Institute Makes the Case for Greater Production and Exports of Natural Gas

Want to reduce carbon emissions at home and abroad? U.S. policymakers should support increasing both the production and export of clean-burning natural gas. That’s the main takeaway in a recent issue brief published by the Progressive Policy Institute. The report finds that “expanding U.S. natural gas production and exports can cut coal use, lowering domestic and global greenhouse gas emissions.”

As a resource that is abundant to our country, natural gas will play a key role during the transition from dirty coal plants into renewable energy. Switching from coal to liquid natural gas (LNG) provides between a 40-50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A significant portion of the world’s nations still rely on coal-fired power and electricity, which means a large part of lowering global emissions will be how much LNG the U.S. can produce, transport and export around the world.

However, the natural gas industry still faces headwinds that could be resolved through better tailored government reforms, especially permitting reform, which the GAIN coalition has continually advocated in favor of. 

The Progressive Policy Institute recommends a number of policies in order to reduce domestic and global emissions:

  • Increase domestic gas production. In order to keep domestic natural gas prices low, as well as expand LNG exports to Europe, Asia and other markets, the U.S. needs to support gas production across the country by way of investments and permits. For example, the report notes, U.S. gas production would need to increase 10 percent to account for a doubling of new LNG exports.

  • Double U.S. gas exports. The U.S. has already committed to significantly increasing LNG exports to Europe as the continent ends its dependence on Russian energy. In order to keep gas prices low and increase production, the U.S. has to expand natural gas infrastructure, especially pipelines. The report recommends the U.S.  “prioritize efforts to provide pipelines and other infrastructure to bring low-cost Appalachian gas to domestic and international markets,” therefore reducing global emissions.

  • Improve gas infrastructure. In order to expand gas production and double LNG exports, the U.S. will need to provide significant investments in and permitting reforms of natural gas pipelines and export facilities. Broad energy permitting reforms will also benefit renewable energy projects during the transition supported by natural gas.

  • Set a goal of zero-net emissions from gas by 2040. As the country increases natural gas production, doubles LNG exports and supports energy infrastructure through permitting reforms, the U.S. should leverage the reduced domestic and global emissions to pursue a goal of net-zero gas emissions by 2040. This can be accomplished through simultaneous investments in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, direct air capture and other technologies.

The Biden administration has utilized regulatory hurdles, such as long environmental reviews and complex permitting processes, to disincentivize and stymie energy infrastructure projects. Supporting the natural gas sector via production and export increases provides a clear path towards reducing domestic and global emissions as well as providing economic benefits for the U.S. Natural gas will be a necessity if the U.S. wants to be a global leader in clean energy over the long term.

House Republicans Prioritize Energy Production with Passage of H.R. 21

Today, the House of Representatives is slated to pass important legislation through H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act. Led by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rogers, H.R. 21 would require any drawdowns from Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be coupled with increased oil leasing on federal lands. It is common sense legislation to open up more federal lands and waters for energy development in the United States, ensuring America’s energy industry remains competitive in the decades ahead.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration has issued a Statement of Administrative Policy and has threatened to veto H.R. 21, should it pass both chambers of Congress. It is therefore unlikely that this legislation will be signed into law this term – a blow to America’s energy industry.

Oil production is a vital component of our modern economy and it plays a crucial role in powering our homes, businesses, and transportation systems. Yet, President Biden has put the fossil fuel industry in his crosshairs by restricting oil production on federal lands and waters, imposing new taxes and regulations, and threatening to phase out all oil and gas in the long-term. Due in part to his failed energy agenda, gas prices have ballooned since he was sworn into office in January 2021.

Despite his opposition to oil production and the political issue of high gas prices, he has tapped into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and has drained our nation’s oil stockpile by 270 million barrels. Today, the SPR is at its lowest level since November 1983. Having such limited supplies in our reserve hamstrings our ability to respond to severe supply disruptions due to war, embargoes, or natural disasters.

Continuing to tap the SPR is not a long-term solution, but simply a short-term band aid to a political problem in order to avoid high energy prices. By tying releases from the SPR to federal leases, the Strategic Production Response Act incentivizes the administration and its relevant agencies to consider forward looking policies rather than short term ones. Releasing oil from the SPR was, and is, not a viable solution towards insulating the U.S. from volatile energy costs. The only way to secure our future energy independence is to utilize the vast land and natural resources our country enjoys.

Chair Rogers’ proposal is a sound fix to refill the SPR and support America’s energy industry that has been under fire for the last several years. Passing this bill would be a principled policy victory for American energy independence and everyday Americans who rely on oil to power their daily lives.

Craig Stevens Discusses U.S. Energy Policy on KLIN ‘Drive Time Lincoln’

Yesterday, GAIN spokesman and former chief spokesman for Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, Craig Stevens, joined Ret. Commander Jack Riggins on Lincoln Nebraska’s only local afternoon talk show, Drive Time Lincoln. Stevens and Commander Riggins discussed the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the constant back and forth on our energy policy and the fact that traditional energy sources like oil and gas are here to stay for the next 50-100 years.

On the Keystone XL Pipeline’s cancellation, Stevens notes that the revocation of its permit two years ago has impacted both the U.S. and global markets, particularly considering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Due to a congressionally mandated report, the Department of Energy recently released an analysis of the impact that the cancellation of Keystone had on our economy. 

Costing upwards of 60,000 jobs, and nearly $10 billion in economic activity, the pipeline would have added roughly 150,000 barrels of Canadian oil into the global marketplace to “alleviate not only the US supply crunches, but supply crunches around the world,” Stevens says. This would have been a “considerable hedge against petro-authoritarians like Vladimir Putin,” and because the Russian President has wielded energy as a weapon, and only gained more power and money in doing so.

Stevens explains that he is very in favor of an all-of-the-above strategy. For example, in Nebraska, there are a lot of wind turbines that can develop electricity in a renewable way, which is a positive for our energy sector. However, a lot of the stakeholders on the left are “absolutely against everything.” What we need to prioritize as a country are resources that can provide relief now, including liquified natural gas, and get it to our consumers. Pursuing renewable sources of energy is good, but it’s “going to be at least 50 to 100 years that we will be reliant on fossil fuels, especially in the transportation sector,” Stevens says, noting the International Energy Administration has said as much.

In closing, Stevens provided Commander Riggins’ listeners with a piece of advice: “Talk to members of congress and talk to their state leaders about the importance of U.S. energy development. It provides us with a hedge against foreign dictators, allows us to export democracy and export capitalism, and allows people around the world to enjoy some of the freedoms and some of the benefits that we do here.”

Listen to the full show here: Drive Time Lincoln

A Modern Society Without Plastics? Not So Fast Writes the New York Times

A recent article in the New York Times by A.J. Jacobs highlights just how prevalent plastics are in our daily lives, and how important they are as a building block to our modern society. Jacobs’ piece details how he approached a 24-hour experiment with the goal of going without using, or even touching, plastic. He notes, “Since its invention more than a century ago, plastic has crept into every aspect of our lives. It’s hard to go even a few minutes without touching this durable, lightweight, wildly versatile substance.”

Just how ubiquitous is plastic to us all? Jacobs violated his experiment within just ten seconds. Laying his feet on the carpet represented his first challenge, as it is made of nylon, a type of plastic. From there, it did not get any easier for him; he had to store his iPhone away for the day and ask his wife to open doors for him that had a plastic coating. His second infringement came shortly after that—using the toilet. Barely into the day, the reader begins to realize this is an almost impossible task in today’s day and age.

Plastics are in almost everything. Jacobs had to change his habits in every facet of his life to avoid using or touching them during his experiment. From changing the types of clothes he wore or not being able to pay for goods with credit cards, to avoiding the usual kitchen appliances he used, Jacobs fought an uphill battle. He even began writing the first draft of this article with a plastic free pencil by candlelight. By the end of the day, Jacobs had made 164 violations.

Plastic products are derived from natural gas, a resource abundant to the U.S. that provides a cheaper and cleaner alternative energy source to traditional fossil fuels. Ensuring we have a robust energy sector is critical to keeping our society both powered and functioning – all while improving the human condition. However, the current administration, members of Congress, and well-funded special interest groups have placed both the natural gas and plastics industry in their crosshairs. By unleashing regulatory arbitrage, the Biden administration has stymied the growth of production and transportation of the sector. 

Inevitably, it will be outsourced to foreign countries if the U.S. refuses to keep those jobs at home – to places like China. If we do not continue to produce plastics, under our own regulations, foreign countries will seize a larger market share and produce the same products in a much more hazardous way.

VIDEO: Natural Gas Has Helped Lower Emissions While Economy Grows

Ellen Wald, an energy historian and Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, recently partnered with the GAIN coalition to release a series of videos about U.S. energy. The first video, recently released, explains how an uptick in natural gas use in the U.S. has helped keep emissions lower as our economy has grown.

Wald explains that by reducing dependence on coal and switching to using more natural gas, the United States has kept emissions level – even while our economy has grown. “We’ve seen our electricity consumption rise over the past decade or 15 years, so our demand has increased. And you would think that with an increase in demand, you’ll also see an increase in emissions. But because we’ve switched so many coal plants to natural gas plants, we haven’t even seen almost any increase in emissions.”

The shift to natural gas, which Wald notes is a “much cleaner form of energy,” has enabled the United States to “grow our economy, grow our consumption, grow our population and our energy use – without also increasing our emissions.” These same benefits should be felt by the rest of the world – particularly countries with emerging economies. The fact is that much of the developing world is still reliant on high-emission fuel like coal or wood. Increasing exports of American natural gas to these countries represents a tremendous opportunity to reduce emissions globally.

The discussion illustrates why the U.S. and the current administration should be investing in natural gas development, production, and transportation, not villainizing it. Removing the red tape obstructing the sector, among other policies, would be a good start.

Watch the first video from Ellen Wald and the GAIN Coalition here: Grow America’s Infrastructure Now

Two Years Later, Canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline Was Still a Mistake

Today marks exactly two years since President Biden revoked the cross border permit required to complete the construction of the KeystoneXL pipeline. This decision, on the first day of his presidency, ended the potential to create thousands of jobs and boost our economy while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Two years later, the decision is still a missed opportunity for our country.

The Keystone XL pipeline would have safely transported up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to the United States, reducing our dependence on energy imports from hostile, foreign governments and providing a reliable source of energy for American families and businesses. This project had been in the works for more than a decade. The pipeline had strong support from the Canadian government, and the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill in 2014 to approve construction of the pipeline, yet it was blocked by the Obama administration. In 2018 the project was revived by the Trump administration, only to be blocked again when President Joe Biden canceled it in 2021.

Unfortunately, the decision to cancel the pipeline was driven by politics rather than sound policy. Environmental activists and their allies in Congress put pressure on the previous administration to kill the project, despite the clear economic and energy security benefits it would have provided.

A new report from Biden’s Department of Energy reveals the full extent of what we lost. Overall, the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,468 construction jobs that would have lasted roughly two years and would have had a positive economic impact of between $3.4-$9.6 billion, according to a congressionally-mandated report issued by the Department in December.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that the pipeline would have been built and operated under the highest safety standards to protect the environment and the communities it would have impacted. The Keystone XL pipeline is also a much safer and more environmentally friendly way to transport oil than alternatives such as rail or truck. Pipelines are the most efficient and safest method of transporting oil over long distances, and the Keystone XL pipeline would have been built to the highest safety standards. The pipeline would also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with alternative modes of transporting oil.

We need energy policies in place that create jobs, grow our economy, and make us energy secure. The president made a clear mistake two years ago by killing the pipeline and the thousands of jobs that would have come with it. The Keystone XL pipeline was a missed opportunity for our country, but we must continue to fight for policies that will benefit all Americans. Our coalition will continue to highlight the consequences of that decision and will support the expansion of all energy infrastructure – from transmission lines to pipelines.

Brigham McCown: A Mismatch between Rhetoric and Reality

On a recent podcast of O’Connor and Company, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and former PHMSA administrator, Brigham McCown, talked at length about the administration’s actions, the European energy crisis and how we got here.

Regarding the Biden administration’s approach, McCown emphasizes that there is a “fascination” for some reason “to emulate Western Europe” in our energy policies. Unfortunately for Europe, the war in Ukraine has exposed their energy security, and caused exorbitant pricing for Europeans. President Biden and his agencies have made their plan to rush the transition to green energy abundantly clear, much like Europe, but the real question is what resources will offer reliable energy during that shift.

When asked about a story from the Netherlands—that exploration of an oil field is being blocked by the government—McCown notes that the Netherlands has a plethora of oil and natural gas reserves but is the subject of poor energy policy. Even though the Netherlands has been progressive in its transition to green energy, the country is still fairly reliant on fossil fuels for its energy production. McCown goes on to say that this is the type of policy our administration has brought to the U.S. but “it will not work at scale.”

Our government has taken the free market out of play, and intentionally “tried to tip the scales” towards one side of the energy equation via subsidies and public pressure. McCown illustrates this point by pointing out that the government is trying to force homes and buildings to switch over to electrical heating, even though it’s less efficient than gas. The weekend before the recording, McCown notes New England had to “lean on oil to generate 40% of its power,” describing this situation as a “mismatch between rhetoric and reality.” 

McCown is not against renewables. “It ought to be part of the mix, but it has to be realistic,” he says. Even if we were able to transition from energy derived from oil, the drilling would not stop. “Everything we touch, and use is from an oil-based product,” McCown says, noting the very asphalt on the streets is a product of the industry.

In transitioning from coal to natural gas, the U.S. has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. While green energy technology is promising and will be important to the diversification of our grid, our energy policies must reflect reasonable timelines.

Fox News Highlights Laid off Keystone XL Pipeline Workers in New Story

President Biden’s decision to terminate the Keystone XL Pipeline had broad national impacts, including making our nation less energy secure and fostering an atmosphere of hostility towards fossil fuels. While the consequences have affected the overall economy, the cancellation of Keystone XL has had a profound and personal impact on the thousands of Americans who were hired to construct the pipeline. So as Washington celebrated the inauguration of Joe Biden, that very same day, many families in the Midwest found themselves without work and concerned about their livelihood – all because of the president’s executive order.

As we approach the two year anniversary of that decision, Fox News released an exclusive story this week to capture the raw emotions of pipeline workers who worked on KXL. Fox’s story shows that policy changes in Washington aren’t just concepts; they have real impacts on people outside the beltway. The piece highlights two workers who were impacted by the shutdown, and offers their perspective, which are abbreviated below:

Neal Crabtree, a pipeline worker affiliated with Pipeliners Local Union 798: “It did surprise us when it happened… I was upset over it. I literally cried about it. I was a foreman on one of the compressor stations. We’d been there for three weeks…And when you just spent a whole year [during the COVID-19 pandemic] not working and then we think we got this huge project that’s going to provide millions of man-hours for people in our industry and then the rug is pulled out from under you, it was devastating.”

Suzanne Walker, a pipeline welder affiliated with Pipeliners Local Union 798: “I was going to be on the Keystone XL project, but none of those jobs went. It got canceled, so I didn’t see any of that work. That was a job down the drain and there really hasn’t been much since…I know a lot of members went and have done different things now because the pipeline business — it’s just gone basically. I know there are a few jobs out there, but we’re trying to make it at home. I know a lot of people who fell on hard times.”

Overall, the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,468 construction jobs that would have lasted roughly two years and would have had a positive economic impact of between $3.4-9.6 billion, according to a congressionally-mandated report issued by the Department of Energy in December.

The GAIN Coalition has continued to urge the Biden administration to reverse course and restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The country, and thousands of workers, would be better off with it.

Gas Stove Narrative Illustrates Democrats’ Heavy-handed Approach to Fossil Fuels

When one of President Biden’s agencies announced it may consider a ban on natural gas stoves, based on shaky science, the idea was met with significant pushback from the industry, consumers, and members of Congress. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Richard Trumka Jr. said that “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” It’s a silly fight, but gas stoves have been emblematic of this administration’s overarching assault on the oil and gas sector.

Regulatory obstacles, such as cumbersome permitting reviews, have considerably constrained oil and gas production and transportation during President Biden’s first term. The CPSC’s announcement considering a natural gas stove ban is the flip side of the playbook—demonizing an industry to create a narrative that the oil and gas sector must fight financially and legally. Even if the CPSC banned gas stoves and their authority to do so was fought in court, the very simple chaos and confusion it would cause encourages divestment from the natural gas sector.

Creating uncertainty with regards to staples of American life powered by oil and gas is one of the Left’s strongest tools. This president has proposed new regulations on natural gas pipelines, canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, halted drilling on federal lands, and continued to delay publication of an offshore drilling plan. 

Similar tactics are evident in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the law that seeks to deliver on the President’s climate change campaign promises. The passing of the IRA has shifted federal agencies’ attention to new measures needed to “implement the law’s climate provisions.” Bloomberg notes that the “biggest challenge may be in finishing rules that haven’t yet been proposed,” specifically rules limiting carbon dioxide emission from vehicles and power plants. While the goal of the administration is for these measures that encounter legal opposition to win in court, losing after long delays accomplishes a similar end goal: increasing the pressure on the sector and forcing companies and consumers to switch energy sources, often prematurely. 

While the administration has used laws like NEPA to hamstring oil and gas production, using their agency’s narratives, such as the CPSC’s potential gas stove ban, offers another avenue to attack the sector. Incentivizing an all-of-the-above approach towards energy production is good, but doing so to the detriment of traditional energy sources we all rely on is not a long-term strategy for energy security. 

President Biden’s assault on gas stoves goes beyond appliances; they simply want to throw the regulatory kitchen sink against all things related to oil and gas.

Caruso: Dakota Access Pipeline is Critical to North Dakota’s Economy

Former Energy Information Administration Administrator and GAIN Strategic Advisor, Guy Caruso, penned a letter to North Dakota’s InForum this week, highlighting Governor Doug Burgum’s State of the State address. The governor’s speech touted the importance of the oil and gas industry to the state, its residents, and the nation, which benefits greatly from the energy extracted in the Rough Rider State.

Caruso echoes this point in his piece, arguing that North Dakota offers a clear defense of why fossil fuel production is so important. He notes the state has become the second-largest oil-producing state in the United States, which has increased economic growth and job creation – all the while fostering a new era of energy independence. Today, roughly sixteen percent of all jobs in North Dakota are tied to the energy industry.

Of course, these benefits would not be possible without a way to safely, efficiently, and affordably transport oil and gas over long distances – specifically through pipeline infrastructure. Caruso highlights the Dakota Access Pipeline as one of the most important pipelines in the country, and critically important to North Dakota’s continued prosperity. DAPL has safely transported up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken to Southern Illinois for more than five years.

Caruso writes, “thanks to robust pipeline infrastructure, including the Dakota Access Pipeline, the oil and gas industry also plays a key role in meeting the energy needs of the country and our allies around the world.”

Caruso concludes with “overall, the oil and gas industry is an important part of North Dakota’s economy and plays a vital role in the state’s economic stability. Through continued investment into energy production and pipeline infrastructure, the state is well-positioned to grow and prosper for years to come.”