June 2011 CEA Newsletter
Issue 51


In the summertime

We’d like to kick off this month’s newsletter with some light fare to match the season when school’s out and vacation is underway. But we’re noticing that as the summer season approaches this year, a lot of people aren’t feeling very … “summery.” Vacation? That takes a lot of money these days. And of course, vacation is impossible if you don’t have a job in the first place.

It’s not lost on us here at CEA that so much of the persistent economic gloom we’re seeing is in some way connected to the longstanding failings of our national energy policy, and the high gasoline prices that have resulted. As we hear so often from CEA members on Facebook and elsewhere, gasoline prices are at a level that makes it difficult for many people to afford short commutes, never mind longer road trips. These prices are also impacting the costs of doing business, manufacturing goods and the prices for all sorts of consumer goods, including food. That limits consumer spending, which in turn forces businesses to cut back on overhead at the very time that we need them to be creating jobs.

Perhaps you have read optimistic reports that, this summer, gasoline prices are headed lower. That’s a half truth at best, for while prices in some regions of the country have retreated modestly in recent weeks, they are still just barely shy of $4 a gallon. It’s a level that is well above historic norms, and which makes it difficult for our country’s oh-so-fragile economic recovery to pick up momentum.

You might be interested to know that, along with marking the start of summertime, the month of June this year also marks two years since the Great Recession officially ended. That’s right: The greatest economic downturn that most of us have experienced in our lives, has long been over. And yet, as I sit here recalling that recession and everything that has transpired since, I’m struck by how things don’t feel very different now than they did then. Indeed, we’re headed for a summer of extreme pain at the pump that recalls the conditions of 2009.

Memorial Day weekend also marks the one-year anniversary of the regulatory moratorium placed on offshore development by the Administration. Though intended to address an affront to our environmental safeguards, this drilling ban failed to take into account the impact it would have on thousands of Gulf workers and the millions of consumers nationwide that would suffer as a result.

What’s a consumer to do? Two things. First, get involved educating yourself and others how all the pieces of our complex economy fit together, particularly how national energy policies affect us all in our wallets. It’s not always easy to pay attention to the big picture when you’re trying to balance the family budget, but your voice is critical in shaping the national debate.

And finally, try to kick back and enjoy, whether you do so on your front stoop, your backyard, a campsite or elsewhere. Remember that the little things you can do to stretch a dollar — like driving at moderate speeds and keeping your tires properly inflated – really do add up to savings at the pump. For more information about conserving energy at home, or getting more actively involved by telling officials in Washington “it’s past time to have a sensible energy policy”, visit us at www.consumerenergyalliance.org.

David Holt

Urge the development of Alaska’s abundant offshore oil and natural gas resources

Tell the federal government that our nation’s economic and energy security depends on producing these vital supplies.

Developing oil and natural gas resources off Alaska will:

  • 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 permanently.

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 development.

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!


Energy Day 2011 Updates

As Energy Day 2011 approaches, momentum is really picking up. In June the third Energy Day Steering Committee meeting will take place at City Hall in downtown Houston. CEA has four ECAP events under its belt after the Houston Energy City of the Future competition that took place on May 13, 2011. Each of the events has been a huge success and we look forward to the upcoming Summer ECAP events. 

Here is the list of confirmed Energy Day sponsors:

ABC-13, 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, 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, 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.

Energy Day Academic Awards Program – Upcoming Events

While Energy Day is still a little over six months away, the Energy Day Academic Awards Program got started in April with 3 events and will continue with one event in the month of May. Each event will count towards the Energy Capital Academic Program (ECAP) for all of those who attend. For more details on the Energy Day Academic Awards Program or the Energy Capital Academic Program please email Craig at CKoshkin@consumerenergyalliance.org

CEA & HMNS Art Competition

June 1-30, 2011

Consumer Energy Alliance is partnering with HMNS Wiess Energy Hall’s Energy Conservation Club to host three of their monthly energy and conservation challenges. These energy-based challenges encourage children to realize their potential in creating a world that meets the needs of everyone. Students are encouraged to illustrate energy and conservation solutions that they have not seen before. 

Three judges from CEA’s Energy Day Steering Committee will choose the winning projects based on creativity, originality, knowledge of student, effort, conclusions and quality of display. The top three winning projects from each month will be recognized and displayed at the Energy Day festival. The first competition is the Art completion and will take place over the course of June. The guidelines are below:

You have a vision of yourself in a career in the energy field. It may be in the oil and gas industry, or in alternatives, or sustainability – anything to do with energy or energy conservation. Create a work of visual art which illustrates your field and how you got there – from today to your vision. Your artwork must be original. It may be presented in the form of a drawing, painting, sculpture, model, or original photography. 

Please go to the Energy Day website for a complete list of rules and requirements for this competition.

Take This Bill…and Measure It

Finding a starting point from which to measure is often the hardest first step to evaluating the efficiency of your home’s energy usage. The U.S. Department of Energy is helping us evaluate our households and compare them to others across the country so that we may better understand how to begin to prioritize and conserve. You will need the following information to calculate your “score”:
  1. Your last 12 months of utility bills
  2. Energy sources from your home (i.e. natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, propane, kerosene, etc.)
  3. The square footage of your home
  4. 5 minutes to plug in the information and get your results!
Visit the website today to receive your totals, compare to others across the country, and get recommendations for improvement!

Illinois Chamber of Commerce 

The energy industry is one of the most intriguing, critical and maddening sectors of our global economy. It’s no secret that our quality of life depends on access to competitively priced, reliable energy that does as little damage as possible to the environment in which we all live.

With this difficult challenge in mind, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce created the Energy Council in 2008. The Energy Council is comprised of companies that generate, transmit and transport energies of all kinds, and the companies that support them. Members of the Energy Council are involved in everything from coal to solar energy, from natural gas and crude oil to wind energy, and from nuclear energy to biofuels and waste-to-energy programs. 

To achieve their mission they advocate in the state legislature for policies that will open the door to energy jobs of all kinds and fight laws that will put them at an energy disadvantage. They also educate media, business and government leaders through outreach, tours, op-eds, letters and other tactics so policy makers can make the tough energy decisions based on facts instead of hopes, misinformation and hyperbole.

They believe their business-advocacy voice — educated by a wide variety of energy interests — is persuasive and helpful as they debate energy policy in Illinois.

The energy industry is one of the cornerstones of Illinois’ economy — 50,000 direct energy jobs in Illinois and an additional 100,000 indirect jobs are tied to the industry. Illinois needs policies that promote the continued expansion of energy production in the state and allows for development of energy resources and infrastructure to meet the state’s and nation’s increasing energy needs. These policies will also help keep energy costs competitive, attract business investment and bring employment growth to Illinois. 

They haven’t solved the state’s energy issues in three years. However, they have an educated, respected and louder voice that is heard by the state’s leaders when energy debates arise. And no, they don’t have the crystal ball that reveals how energy issues will be solved. But we are working hard to create an environment in Illinois that is ready to benefit from whatever the future brings. 

For more information on the Illinois Chamber’s Energy Council, please go to their website or blog. And remember, it’s always a good time to talk about energy.