February 2011 CEA Newsletter
Issue 47


Fresh Starts and Old Challenges

We kick off this new year with great optimism that, three years after the nation’s economy plunged into the worst recession since the Great Depression, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, the country is once again creating jobs and our innovative spirit seems to have come out of the downturn intact. From the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico to the wind farms that dot our interior, businesses are eager to invest in new technology that will keep the United States competitive and create more jobs.

Of course, there is still much more work to be done. Millions of Americans are still unemployed, gasoline prices are rising and threatening the success of our still-fragile recovery, and the nation’s key energy-producing region is still trying to find a pathway toward recovery from a devastating accident, a sweeping, open-ended drilling moratorium and protracted regulatory uncertainty. At a time that the nation needs to be creating jobs, we are at risk of losing more jobs unless drilling activity in the Gulf is allowed to pick up.

CEA’s February newsletter offers some important information on how you can help. Last year, we initiated a Call to Action to tell the Obama Administration, Congress and State leaders how much of an impact energy has on job creation, and we are expanding that effort this year. As I write this letter, President Obama has just concluded his State of the Union address, which was a rather vague speech that paid lip service to the need for an “all of the above” strategy, properly highlighted the need for more solar, wind and biomass, but then signaled reduced support for the oil and gas industry – the exact resources we use each and every day (and will continue to use for the next 50 to 100 years).

We need to continue to connect the dots and remind policymakers that a strong domestic energy industry means a stronger economy, more affordable energy prices, and more jobs. CEA did just that last week when we sent our “Recommendations for a Balanced Energy Policy” to each and every member of Congress.  Our commonsense approach contains sections on a wide variety of key energy issues, including: the development of oil and natural gas resources, wind, oil shale, rare earth elements, advanced biofuels and solar technologies, expansion of nuclear power, combined heat and power, and carbon capture and storage, as well as incentives to spur further energy efficiency, and many others.

We will work with you and all our elected leaders to make sure that our collective voices are heard and sound, sensible energy solutions are enacted that spur economic growth, create jobs and generate much-needed local, state and federal revenues.

As an alliance that works to empower consumers to influence policy and also make smart personal decisions about energy, CEA wants to remind you that even when our challenges seem too big to overcome, each of us can make a small difference. This month’s consumer corner offers some reminders of the ways to lighten your own personal energy load, particularly by unloading your car. Using a car as a storage bin is not good energy policy, it actually increases fuel consumption!

On behalf of CEA, I wish you all a happy new year and I look forward to working together in 2011 toward our common objectives.

David Holt

CEA Call to Action: Tell The Obama Administration That We Need Jobs!
Following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in April 2010, the Obama Administration instituted a temporary moratorium on all deepwater drilling for oil and natural gas and continues to delay permitting for many offshore operations. Thanks in part to these delays, domestic production of oil will decline by 20,000 barrels a day in 2011 and by 130,000 barrels a day in 2012.

Currently, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation (BOEMRE) is beginning to look at areas to be included for in the 2012-2017 offshore oil and gas leasing program. Previously, the Obama Administration intended to include areas in the Mid- and South-Atlantic as well as parts of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. However, just last month, the Administration decided not to include these areas. Now, we must make sure other areas are not excluded from potential leases. Click here to learn more and TAKE ACTION!

Momentum is steadily building for Energy Day 2011, and our sponsor list continues to grow! Here are our confirmed sponsors so far:

ABC-13, American Public Power Association, Apache, Bug Ware, Inc., Caterpillar, City of Houston, Consumer Energy Alliance, Consumer Energy Education Foundation, Cooperative for After-School Enrichment (CASE), Earth Quest Institute, Energy People Connect, Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale, Environmentally Friendly Drilling Project, Greater Houston Partnership, Halliburton, Harris County Department of Education, Houston Advanced Research Center, Houston Independent School District , Houston Museum of Natural Science Wiess Energy Hall, Houston Renewable Energy Network, Houston Technology Center, Lone Star College, NASA-Johnson Space Center, National Algae Association, Offshore Energy Center, Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, Shell, Solar Tour Houston, The Wind Alliance, TXU, University of Houston, Western Energy Alliance, YES Prep Public Schools, 60 Plus Association

We need your participation and involvement to make this an outstanding event! Please email Kathleen at KKoehler@consumerenergyalliance.org for details.

CEA Releases Recommendations for 112th Congress

Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) outlined a host of commonsense recommendations advocating an “all of the above” national energy plan in a briefing book issued on January 24th to the 112th Congress. The book “Recommendations for a Balanced Energy Policy: A Briefing Book Presented to the 112th U.S. Congress,” focuses on policy changes that could improve the U.S. economy by using affordable energy as a means of creating new jobs, sending revenues back to the states, protecting the environment and responding to climate change. Click here to view and/or download the briefing book.

CEA Announces New Affiliate Members

National Association of Convenience Stores
CEA is pleased to welcome the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) as a new affiliate. NACS is an international trade association representing more than 2,100 retail and 1,500 supplier company members. NACS member companies do business in nearly 50 countries worldwide, with the majority of members based in the United States. The U.S. convenience store industry, with nearly 145,000 stores across the country, posted $511 billion in total sales in 2009, with $328 billion in motor fuels sales.

NACS serves the convenience and petroleum retailing industry by providing industry knowledge, connections and advocacy to ensure the competitive viability of its members’ businesses. In 2007, the association shortened its name to NACS and added a tagline that better defines its presence both internationally and at the retail fueling level: The Association for Convenience and Petroleum Retailing. Click here to visit their website.

Houston Renewable Energy Network
The mission of the Houston Renewable Energy Network (HREN) is to promote awareness and education of renewable energy technologies and markets among energy professionals in the Greater Houston Metro area. The HREN also serves as a networking ground for people with commercial and/or career interests in the Renewable Energy space. TheHREN hosts quarterly speaking events which typically occur on Friday mornings and are open to the public. Click here to visit their website.

The Science and Engineering Fair of Houston This year will mark the 52nd anniversary of the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston. The science fair is open to all public, private, charter, and home school students in grades 7-12 within the Houston area. It is supervised by a board of directors and sponsored by the University of Houston-Downtown, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Engineering, Science and Technology Council of Houston (ECH), the Consumer Energy Alliance(CEA) and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Businesses, foundations, industrial and technical organizations, and professional societies annually donate about 85% of the Fair’s operating funds. From these many groups come the more than 1,200 volunteers responsible for the major fair committees and activities associated with SEFH.

Click here to visit the website for SEFH and learn more about this annual event.

CEA Announces New Director for CEA Florida

CEA is pleased to announce that Matthew D. Ubben, formerly vice president of the Florida Trucking Association, is the new Executive of CEA’s Florida chapter.  Many Floridians know Matt from walking the halls of the Capitol on behalf of various clients as well as his various senior management positions in State government, which include serving as public affairs director at the Florida Transportation Commission.  Prior to coming to Tallahassee 14 years ago, Matt spent more than a decade in various public affairs positions in Washington, including managing political action committees from United Technologies Corporation and MCI as well as lobbying for the Helicopter Association International.

What We Can Do As Fuel Prices Continue To Rise

We’ve been here before. We were hoping not to arrive at this junction again, but here we are once more on the brink of oil prices reaching $100 a barrel. Throughout the month of January, this prediction seemed to become more and more of an imminent reality, and so as consumers, it’s time once more to think about how we might prepare ourselves (and our wallets) for the coming year.

According to the Department of Energy, here are some ways we might lower our fuel costs and help save a little cash:

  1. Slow down. Faster driving and aggressive driving wastes gas.
  2. Keep your car maintained and running smoothly.
  3. Use your engine wisely. Avoid excessive idling and utilize cruise control when possible.
  4. Be smart about trip routes and initiate carpools.
  5. Keep your car light. Avoid using your car as a storage bin!

Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale (ECCOS)
ECCOS is an organization with the mission to educate and inform people about oil shale and current issues in energy  by focusing on reaching out to ordinary members of the public and to students.  “We do not promote a “drill here, drill now” pro-oil shale agenda.  We simply want people to know the facts about oil shale – the size of the resource, where it is located, the technologies now being developed to extract it, environmental challenges, political challenges, potential economic benefits, and national issues, including energy prices, oil imports, trade deficits, etc.  If we promote anything, it is continued research and development into oil shale,” said Curtis Moore, Executive Director of ECCOS. “Many opponents of fossil fuels simply wish to give up completely on oil shale, because they believe the costs are too great to extract and utilize it.  Because of the sheer size of the resource, the fact that it is here in America, and the fact that – like it or not – we will use lots of oil for many decades to come, we don’t think we should give up on oil shale.  The stakes are simply too high.  Therefore, we believe should keep working to see if we can develop and utilize it responsibly.  If so, it would literally revolutionize world energy dynamics.”

ECCOS is a strong affiliate of CEA, and represents a partnership with common goals of energy responsibility, economic security, and education. Through the CEA’s publications, events, and programs, they can disseminate information in a meaningful way with a consumer voice. “Like ECCOS, the CEA is pro-energy and pro-growth,” says Moore.  “I believe we’re also both optimists about America’s future.  And, if you believe America has a bright economic future, it is very clear that we are going to need a lot of affordable energy.  To produce that energy, trade-offs and analyses of the costs-and-benefits of various energy sources will have to be carefully considered.  Through CEA, we can help make sure the debate on oil shale is fair and fact-based.”