July 2011 CEA Newsletter
Drop in the bucket
As you most likely have heard by now, President Obama finally took decisive action in response to the high oil prices that have squeezed so many consumers in recent months, when he approved the release of 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). We applaud his recognition of the severity of the oil price crisis, but we regret the response he has taken is nothing but a short term fix.
In fact, if you really think about it, President Obama’s focus on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve actually highlights all the multitude of ways that our nation’s energy policy is broken. Consider:
- The reserve, when filled to capacity, can hold about 725 million barrels of oil, enough to power the United States for a little more than a month, based on current consumption levels. That’s a veritable drop in the bucket. While the SPR can address short-term supply crunches, producing more oil domestically would have a lasting, positive impact. CEA recently published a response to the president’s decision to release oil from the SPR, where we note that granting permits to explore and produce in parts of Alaska that are currently off limits could add 1.37 million barrels of oil per day in the near term. Granting permits that would provide for more production in the Gulf of Mexico, along with approving the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, could bring that increased production up to 2.2 million barrels per day. Those volumes could make a real difference in supplies – and prices – for far more than 30 days.
- The immediate factor triggering the SPR release was reduced supply from Libya, one of the many foreign suppliers on which the U.S. is too dependent. The fact that a supply disruption from a foreign producer leads us to release oil from an emergency reserve that has only been tapped a handful of times since it was established in 1975, underscores how dangerous that dependence is.
- And finally, oil is still too expensive. As of this writing, crude prices are down about 50 cents a barrel from springtime levels, but they’re still quite high on a historical basis. As a tool to correct oil price spikes and swings, it appears the SPR is inadequate.
Of course, we welcome any decline in oil prices. But, with summer in full swing, bringing with it those high temperatures that make air conditioning a necessity at home, at work and commuting in between, you are probably finding that the cost of going about your daily business is quite steep these days. Sadly, if consumers feel the impact of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at all, they will likely find it makes little difference in their pocketbooks.
A real long-term solution is still the best answer. A U.S. Energy Policy that combines appropriate expansion of our oil and natural gas resources along the lines outlined above with the long-term development of a diverse portfolio of alternative energy, conservation and improved efficiency WILL help alleviate price swings at home and our ever increasing reliance on imports from abroad.
Tell the federal government that our nation’s economic and energy security depends on producing these vital
Developing oil and natural gas resources off Alaska
- Supply Americans with abundant domestic energy and help lower overseas imports;
- Create tens of thousands of American jobs in Alaska and throughout the United States;
- Add billions in revenue to the federal government at a time of ballooning federal deficits; and
- Provide necessary supplies to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline – one of the most critical infrastructures in our country – from shutting down
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement, and Regulation (the federal agency that regulates offshore energy development) is currently accepting comments on the development of offshore oil and natural gas in the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska. After years and years of studying the potential impacts of production and ensuring all safety precautions have exceeded standards, it’s time to move forward with
By sending a letter in today, you will send a strong message to our government that American energy security and American jobs are at stake. Consumers cannot avoid any delays!
It’s no secret Americans are struggling with the high costs of daily living – food, gasoline and even the price of diapers have all risen in the past few months. Right when you thought enough was enough, your electricity bill may become the next victim if Washington bureaucrats don’t get it right. Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing new regulations on power plants that could inadvertently close dozens of U.S. utilities and manufacturing plants, and there’s no backup power switch for consumers to turn to. And as everyone knows, less supply and more demand equal higher prices.
If implemented, these new rules could force approximately 400 facilities to install unnecessary or ineffective environmental technologies to their 16 cooling system operations. Scientific studies have demonstrated these plants have little if any negative effect on surrounding ecosystems. Moreover, these upgrades will cost facilities millions of dollars – costs that will inevitably be passed on to consumers. Consumers may not be left in the dark, but they will be left with a significantly higher electricity bill.
With just about 3 months remaining before October 15, CEA is beginning to finalize its plans for the first annual Energy Day Festival. Towards the end of July the third Energy Day Steering Committee meeting will take place at City Hall in downtown Houston.
Here is the list of confirmed Energy Day sponsors:
ABC-13/KTRK-TV, Air Transport Association, American Public Power Association, Apache, Bug Ware, Inc., Caterpillar, City of Houston, ConocoPhillips, Consumer Energy Alliance, Consumer Energy Education Foundation, Cooperative for After-School Enrichment (CASE), CSTEM Teacher & Student Support Services, Earth Quest Institute, Eco-Holdings Engineering, El Paso Corporation, Energy People Connect, Environmentally Friendly Drilling Program, eVgo, Foundation for Energy Education, Greater Houston Partnership, Green Mountain Energy, Halliburton, Harris County Department of Education, Houston Advanced Research Center, Houston Area Land Rover Centers, Houston Independent School District, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Wiess Energy Hall, Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce – Energize! Houston, Houston Renewable Energy Group, Houston Renewable Energy Network, Houston Technology Center, HoustonWorks USA, Ignite Solar, Independent Natural Resources, International Power | GDF Suez, KBR, Inc., Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), Lone Star College, Momentum Luxury Group, NASA-Johnson Space Center, National Algae Association , NRG Energy | Reliant Energy, Offshore Energy Center, San Jacinto College – Energy Venture Camp, Science & Engineering Fair of Houston, Shell, 60 Plus Association, Solar Tour Houston, Statoil, Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering, Texas Southern University, Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Texas TicKids, The Wind Alliance, TransCanada, TXU, Western Energy Alliance, University of Houston , University of Texas, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, YES Prep Public Schools
We need your participation and involvement to make this an outstanding event! Please email Kathleen at KKoehler@consumerenergyalliance.org for details.
All sponsors have begun to give us their exhibit ideas and designs, all of which will be very exciting for the youth of Houston. A few of the exhibit ideas include:
- Combined heat and power system; 8 x 22 Kawasaki engine;
- Natural gas vehicle;
- Solar panels and wind turbines;
- Mobile Offshore Learning Unit;
- Interactive iPad games and applications;
- eVgo is bringing the Freedom Station (electric vehicle charging station) and 1 or two electric vehicles;
- and plenty more….
Spring Clean Your Energy Use!
Each year, people across America take part in the annual tradition of spring cleaning their homes, garages, work places and lifestyles, but consumers should give their energy use a good once over too!
Heating and cooling costs are a significant part of household budgets throughout America – on average 43 percent of utility bills! There are many free and low-cost strategies consumers can put into action to lower these costs. Spring cleaning energy use is beneficial because not only does it save consumers a few bucks, but it also focuses consumers on being good stewards of energy resources.
This spring, there are five top steps to take in streamlining your energy use: 1) Look for assistance from your local utility or state; 2) Conduct an energy audit; 3) Have your cooling system serviced; 4) Find and seal your air leaks; and 5) Install a programmable thermostat, according to EnergySavers.gov, a U.S. Department of Energy website devoted to providing tips to the American public on energy consumption.
The five spring to-dos are part of EnergySavers.gov’s “Stay Cool, Save Money” campaign, which focuses on providing consumers with ways to save money during the spring and summer. Find out more ways to prepare for summer’s energy costs…