Energy Politics

May 15, 2012

A Pew poll taken in April found that 61% of voters listed energy as “very important," and in March, Rasmussen Reports found that 54% of likely voters said energy was a “very important” issue. With energy and gas prices on voters’ minds, the American Petroleum Institute (API) today released a report, American Made Energyoutlining what it wants to see from candidates running for President, Senate, and Congress.

At the event to release the report, Jack Gerard, API President and CEO, stated that the question isn’t whether we will continue using oil and gas, but where will be get it from. 

Gerard noted that when including shale oil, the United States has the largest amount of technologically-recoverable oil in the world--more than Saudi Arabia, more than Russia, more than Iran. This is backed up by testimony last week from a Government Accountability Office energy expert [via Hot Air]:

The Green River Formation--an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming--contains the world's largest deposits of oil shale. USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions. The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves.

[At Power Line, Stephen Hayward lays this all out graphically.]

Extracting that energy from private, state, and federal lands will produce millions of jobs and billions in new government revenue according to Gerard.

Regulations and proposed changes in tax policy threaten the ability of oil and gas companies from getting that oil. Gerard said that Al Armendariz’s “crucify” comment represented an “adversarial and perhaps hostile” relationship between regulators and energy producers. On taxes, he said particular energy industries shouldn’t be targeted. Washington “must resist those that pit one resource against another.”

After Gerard’s remarks, panelists covered the gamut of energy policy issues. Former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan said that the recent increase in domestic oil and gas development is “really good news” that hasn’t garnered enough attention. However, Jim Connaughton of Exelon pointed out that this boom has been happening on state and private lands but not federal lands.

Joe Stanko, a partner with Hunton and Williams, said he’d like to see more “responsible, consistent policy” to reduce uncertainty. Businesses are unwilling to make major investments unless they know what the rules of the game will be and that they’ll remain constant. Conaughton called uncertainty an “invisible drag” on the economy.

Energy analyst, Kevin Book, told the audience that energy demand is at a low point because the economy isn’t growing very fast. Policymakers need to look ahead and develop policies to make sure supplies can meet future demand.

On the Keystone XL pipeline, Senator Dorgan predicted that “it will be built.” The only question is when. He said President Obama will make that decision “later rather than sooner.”

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