Unleashing American Energy Starts with Removing Bureaucratic Red Tape

The U.S. House Representatives is currently considering H.R. 1130, the Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act of 2023, which will help determine the fate of our nation’s energy future. Throughout the years, bureaucrats have abused their power by codifying excessive red tape into law, resulting in a decline in development and exportation of clean and reliable liquid natural gas (LNG). It’s time energy workers write their own futures, not politicians in DC.

H.R. 1130 directly addresses LNG exportation setbacks with non-FTA nations, expediting the process and fortifying our nation’s position as a global energy leader. With the war in Ukraine, many non-FTA nations have been left vulnerable, as they relied on Russia for their energy supply. To fill their energy gap, many non-FTA countries looked to the U.S. in their time of need. Notably, Germany has recently signed several long-term contacts with U.S. LNG companies, boosting local economies and creating American jobs.

Currently, LNG exports to FTA nations are not subject to additional reviews that exports to non-FTA nations have to endure. This creates a blockage in America’s energy exportation and is another way for politicians to answer the pleas of environmental groups. The administration and the Department of Energy continue to send mixed signals on their energy policy as they reject certain projects, like Energy Transfer’s Lake Charles expansion request, while simultaneously approve others, such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The facts are clear. LNG is a clean burning fuel, helping us reach net-zero goals by transitioning from coal. If the U.S. were to harness the potential of LNG, our nation could be the world’s provider of clean energy, reducing global emissions while generating hundreds of thousands of jobs and revenue back into our local communities. The inaction of modernizing the permitting process could jeopardize our nation’s relationships with our allies who will then look elsewhere for their energy supply, empowering dictators and compromising our national security. Congress needs to realize that our nation’s energy industry is at a breaking point and removal of excessive red tape is essential in securing our future.

Patrice Douglas: Biden’s Permitting Proposal Would Backfire, Add Red Tape for Affordable Energy Projects

Patrice Douglas, an attorney and former chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, detailed the direct attack on traditional oil and gas by the Biden administration’s new NEPA reforms in a recent piece she authored for RealClear Energy. In July, the White House Council on Environmental Quality published a new proposal aimed at accelerating renewables while adding excessive red tape for traditional energy projects. This unfair proposal tiptoes around the actual problem with the permitting process and is bound to fail.

Permitting reform has been under more consideration this year, taking a step forward with the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). However, there is much more work needed to be done for a streamlined process, ensuring detailed and timely reviews for all projects that will bolster our nation’s energy production. The new NEPA proposal would allow agencies to flag certain projects as not having significant environmental impact, expediting their processes while leaving others behind. An additional facet of this proposal includes reversing a rule that reigned in the cumbersome comment period—which would elongate the permitting process—and codifying environmental justice into law.

Douglas writes, “It is imperative that the Biden administration fully address the inefficiencies of the current permitting process, as well as the shortfalls of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to ensure a strong energy sector for years to come. Instead of picking winners and losers and giving short cuts to certain energy projects, the Biden Administration should apply thorough but efficient reviews to all projects.”

It’s time to get real permitting reform back on the table. Disadvantaging any type of energy project, and expediting others, especially ones that are unreliable and costly, will cost the American people opportunities and threaten our national security.

Read Patrice Douglas’ op-ed here: RealClear Energy

Guy Caruso: Oil & Gas Must Sit at the President’s Climate Table

Writing in RealClear Energy, Guy Caruso, a former administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and a Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser, outlined the current administration’s impractical approach to methane reduction. This summer, as part of the White House’s inaugural “Methane Summit,” a ‘cabinet-level’ Methane Task Force was created to accelerate the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. The issue with the first-ever Methane Summit? Oil and gas industry stakeholders were reportedly not invited.

Working with the oil and gas industry has been, and will continue to be, crucial for reducing methane emissions. Caruso says, “Not only are America’s oil and gas producers the ones square in the crosshairs of the Biden administration’s methane schemes, they are also the men and women actually leading the charge to reduce emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas.” In fact, oil and gas producers have worked hard to decrease emissions, driving down greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent in 2019 and 30 percent in 2021. Though these stakeholders are at the forefront of this issue, working to optimize production while deploying new technologies, the EPA has proposed a one-size-fits-all approach to regulate methane identification and mitigation.

Caruso argues that the “rule risks stopping investment in proven methane approaches and could force producers to adopt practices that are poor fits.” The EPA’s proposal would require the use of Optical Gas Imaging (OGI), a powerful tool for detecting methane leaks. While OGI is commonly used, mandating its usage as the sole technology for oil and gas producers is not the correct approach to regulating detection methods, as it may not always be the best—or most economical—choice for producers in their respective environment. Similarly, the technology requires a skilled operator, which can render the efficacy completely reliant on the abilities of the surveyor.

Instead of force a one-size-fits-all approach, Caruso argues the EPA should “pivot to a technology-neutral, flexible approach that creates the best chance for making critical gains in methane reduction and, thus, [advances] America’s ambitious plans to do its fair share on climate.” Mandating one technology will stagnate innovation in a field ripe for advancements.

Read Guy Caruso’s full piece here: Always Cutting Methane, Oil and Gas Must Sit at President Biden’s Climate Table

Biden’s Mining Plan is Bound to Backfire

As the Biden administration promotes the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S., it must confront the stranglehold that China has on the critical mineral market.

Addressing our domestic mining shortfall, the administration released a new report this week that analyzed the General Mining Act of 1872 and provided recommendations for a modernized process. Under the guise of advancing the administration’s environmental goals to accelerate renewables and codify environmental justice into law, the recommendations will add excessive red tape, elongating the permitting process and increasing costs, growing our reliance on China for these materials. It is ironic that the recommendations seek to streamline aspects of the mining permitting process, but changes would create a complex administrative system that would further hamstring expediency.

The report concluded that miners should pay 4-8 percent of their net value in royalties to the federal government, which will raise the costs of these materials and disincentivize mining. Additionally, the recommendations would increase the administration’s reach over the mining process and require developers to meet with agencies before they apply for permits. Mining permits already go through a rigorous review process, sometimes taking almost 15 years to greenlight projects.

By adding more obstacles to the permitting process, the Biden administration is doing the exact opposite of expediting mining projects. Relying on China for these materials will empower their unjust practices, such as using forced and child labor. Similarly, it will reward their economy to the disadvantage of hard-working Americans.

While the Biden administration should be prioritizing the buildout of a domestic mining supply chain, these recommendations will cause short-term delays to the process at the behest of climate goals. The hypocrisy of the administration’s plan to accelerate renewables continues through other actions like canceling several mining projects in the west, contradicting their efforts and demonstrating their lack of awareness as to  how this would affect the American people. The Biden administration must stop sending mixed signals to the U.S. energy industry, prioritize domestic production of all critical materials, and pursue an all-of-the-above approach to energy security.

Biden Administration Cancels Oil Leases in Alaska

Last week, the Biden administration—in conjunction with the Department of the Interior—announced the cancellation of leases to drill oil and gas in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. The move cancels the leases sold under the Trump administration, and a proposed rule by the Interior Department would establish “an outright prohibition” on any future drilling in 10.6 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The decision has divided the energy industry as environmentalists hail the move as a win, while Alaskan politicians, such as Senator Lisa Murkowski (R), called out the administration for further chilling investment in new energy projects. Sen. Murkowski said the moves represented “incoherent energy policy,” and Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) blasted the decision as a disregard for Congress’ authority. The Governor said in a statement, “It’s clear that President Biden needs a refresher on the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine. Federal agencies don’t get to rewrite laws, and that is exactly what the Department of the Interior is trying to do here.”

The Biden administration should stop playing politics with our nation’s energy—and national—security. The cancellation of these leases sends another signal to our domestic energy industry that the federal government will not support the production and transportation of cheap and efficient energy. Instead, the Biden administration risks increasing our reliance on foreign, and often hostile, sources of energy, as well as the potential for higher gas prices across the country. During a particularly volatile time for energy with the war in Ukraine and international sanctions on Russian oil, the U.S. should be taking every action to strengthen our domestic supply chain and energy production. The U.S. has an abundance of energy resources under our feet—and we must utilize it in order to maintain our energy independence and national security.

Texas Grid Emergency Highlights Need for All-of-the-Above Approach

This week, the Department of Energy declared a power emergency for the Texas power grid due to extreme heat that significantly drove up electricity demand. The DOE’s declaration of an emergency allowed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to operate outside of certain pollution standards to generate the necessary amount of power needed to stave off a potential crisis. ERCOT later confirmed that the grid was facing a potential congestion overload from a transmission line coming from South Texas to Dallas. Former ERCOT interim CEO Brad Jones said, “All the wind that was on in the south was struggling to get to Dallas to help meet demand. So right in the middle of this, ERCOT had to reduce generation in the south to prevent that line from being overloaded.”

ERCOT declared an Energy Emergency Alert 2 (EEA2) Wednesday night, bringing all available generation online. The extreme weather set a new ERCOT September peak demand record of 82,705 MW, with the former record demand being 72,370 MW last year. The EEA2 was lifted an hour after the alert went on.

While it is a positive that the grid avoided blackouts on Wednesday, the emergency highlights a larger trend affecting grids across the country. Extreme heat, soaring demand, and low energy output from wind and solar were all major contributors to the energy emergency. Without fossil fuels, particularly cheap, efficient natural gas, the potential energy emergency could not have been avoided. Although wind and solar power can offer significant power sources, these technologies need baseload forms of power, as evidenced by the grid’s energy generation mix, sixty nine percent of which was from natural gas.

Energy emergencies like the one this week can be avoided by an all-of-the-above approach to energy—but it requires pragmatic solutions, not wishful thinking. The importance of natural gas in Texas cannot be overstated. Building out more transmission lines for renewable energy generation will be paramount, as well as continuing to invest in natural gas infrastructure so that the grid has the necessary baseload power to avoid unfortunate situations such as the one this week.

Biden Administration Suspends Rule to Ship LNG by Rail

Last week, the Biden administration’s Department of Transportation (DOT) suspended a 2020 rule that authorized the transportation of liquified natural gas (LNG) by rail. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), along with the DOT, dealt a blow to the rail industry, especially companies who had proposed to move shale gas by using a conduit of rail tank cars and trucks.

While the suspension of the rule only pauses these shipments until 2025, the DOT has through then to codify the ban on transporting LNG by rail that was in place before former President Trump took office. The move illustrates a larger issue characterizing the U.S. energy industry. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, the global energy markets have been marked by volatility and uncertainty. As European countries decoupled from their dependence on Russian energy, the U.S. has filled the void by exporting our natural gas across the pond. However, demand is not the issue—transporting our domestic supply from abundant shale fields, such as the Marcellus Shale, is the major problem.

Pipeline constraints have limited the U.S.’ ability to maximize the amount of energy the nation exports abroad. The suspension of LNG by rail rule offers the administration an opportunity to address our transportation limitations in a much safer and more efficient manner by investing capital into infrastructure projects such as pipelines. With the possibility of a new LNG terminal in southeast Pennsylvania, for example, the Biden administration should compliment our energy production with more infrastructure to move it safely.

Suspending the 2020 LNG rule will be shortsighted if the U.S. does not simultaneously build out more pipeline infrastructure. If the Biden administration is serious about supplying our allies abroad with cheap energy from allied nations, as well as keeping domestic energy prices low, then pipeline constraints must be addressed.

Biden’s Radical Green Energy Agenda Will Corrupt Our Grid

This week, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released their 2023 Reliability Risk Priorities Report, and it drew concerns about the reliability of the US’s grid and the possible risks if Biden’s green energy agenda would come to fruition. Biden’s reckless plan to rapidly decarbonize could jeopardize our nation’s energy security and its ability to function effectively.

The report entailed five threats to overall grid reliability, including grid transformation, extreme event resiliency, security risks, infrastructure interdependency, and energy policy- a new risk added this year. As explained in the report, energy policy – specifically prematurely pushing renewables – impacts grid transformation as it could cause abrupt changes in planning and operations, ultimately affecting the grid’s reliability and resilience. Currently, the energy output of renewables could not sufficiently power our grid, and these actions are putting our nation’s energy security in peril.

Part of the administration’s plan is for our grid to be powered 81 percent by green energy by 2030, which poses major concerns due our infrastructure and the unreliability of this energy. Other actions by the administration also threaten our grid like devastating tailpipe emission restrictions to push electric vehicles that will overload our grid and cause major disruptions in its functioning. It’s clear that there is a real gap between renewables’ actual energy output and our nation’s demand.

Instead of solely pushing one type of energy, especially one that is underdeveloped and unreliable, the administration should embrace all types of energy to fortify our national security and ensure affordable and dependable energy for everyone. Biden’s agenda is bound to backfire and cause real repercussions that will fall back on the American people.

Biden Administration Targets Offshore Oil and Gas

Last week, the Biden Administration issued new restrictions for boats traveling in the Gulf of Mexico under the guise of protecting an endangered whale species. However, this is another way the administration is trying to hinder the growth and progress of the oil and gas industry.

The new restrictions would prevent boats carrying offshore oil and gas from transporting essential energy to our nation and our allies due to speed limits along a vast protection zone that encapsulates almost the entire Gulf.

There has been no scientific evidence showing that these provisions will help protect whales and other wildlife. And by singling out offshore vessels, this proposal is exposed as a covert attack on traditional energy sources. What the Biden administration fails to recognize is that this proposal could jeopardize our nation’s energy security and will burden consumers with high prices during a period of high inflation.

The Gulf is home to 15 percent of our nation’s total crude oil production and 5 percent of our natural gas production. Transporting this energy effectively is vital to America’s energy independence and prosperity.

Just Stop Oil Protests Continue to Contradict Themselves

The Wall Street Journal recently published an editorial on the protest at Wimbledon by activist group ‘Just Stop Oil.’ The group threw orange confetti glitter and jigsaw pieces—environmentally-friendly materials of course—onto the courts in order to halt play.  The same group tossed tomato soup on a Vincent Van Gogh painting at the National Gallery in London in October of last year. These protests continue to fall short in achieving their so-called goal.

The hypocrisy of Just Stop Oil is noticeable. Whether they like it or not, oil is a part of the goods they use daily, the transportation they take and even in the very fabric of the clothes they wear. A letter to the editor in response to the Wall Street Journal editorial highlighted that the group wore PVC rain jackets at a recent protest, but little do they realize that these very jackets that keep them dry have 6,000 byproducts of oil.

Oil has provided us the ability to flourish as a society, lifting billions out of poverty globally over the last century. Alongside its uses in everyday goods, the oil industry employs  8 million people with jobs globally, and is the largest work force out of all energy sectors. Oil is also integral in the generation of other energy sources, namely renewable technology, that helps us reduce emissions and work towards achieving our climate goals. Without fossil fuels, the mining of critical minerals vital to produce electric vehicles—to name just one example—would be impossible. Expanding traditional fuel infrastructure will be essential for advancing our world towards meeting those goals.

‘Just Stop Oil’ is simply another group that fails to understand the necessity of fossil fuels in our world. Their protests lack that understanding, as illustrated by past demonstrations. The group also does not approach the issue pragmatically, providing a coherent solution to the issue they take up. At the end of the day, there is one question to ask: Did you accomplish your goal by throwing that tomato soup?