September 2011 CEA Newsletter
In recent months we’ve often discussed energy from the perspective of some basic consumer issues like the cost of air conditioning and the pain at the gas pump that puts a damper on otherwise carefree road trips. These issues are anything but trivial, as we recently noted when citing the large number of heat-related deaths during July. But as summer passes, we are shifting our focus to some of the broader ways that the cost of energy and our access to it affects all consumers. The fact is, we are all paying for the limits that our policymakers have imposed on domestic oil production, even if we don’t pay at the pump.
To better illustrate the ways that policies covering the Gulf of Mexico affect businesses and consumers all around the country, CEA recently launched the Open the Gulf campaign, a series of ads featuring working people and small businesses discussing the economic hit they’ve taken as a result of the deepwater drilling moratorium that was imposed in the Gulf last year – and the de facto restrictions that have remained even after the moratorium was lifted. Tugboat operators in the area have seen their main source of business evaporate, and many other businesses thousands of miles from the Gulf — from small family farms to independent truckers — are also feeling the squeeze of higher oil prices.
We hope you will take a moment to watch these ads at http://openthegulf.org. You’ll hear from a farmer who complains that fuel costs have expanded to more than a third of his budget, and from a struggling tugboat operator who explains that his business buys equipment from suppliers all over the country, who are now suffering lost business. And if that phrase “lost business” once sounded like an abstract term, now more than ever we know that it means jobs lost and hiring delayed.
Likewise, it’s critical that we appreciate how the policies covering the oil sector in the Gulf have a pretty direct impact on all of us, even if we work in an entirely different industry in another part of the country. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 30 percent of U.S. oil production and 11 percent of natural gas production. But in the wake of last year’s deepwater drilling moratorium, we’ve seen a steep drop in the number of drilling permits issued in the Gulf.
And speaking of other areas of the country, a different policy debate brewing far to the north of the Gulf offers another reminder of the power of domestic energy to unite us all around common goals. Washington has been dragging its feet over the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a large-scale infrastructure project that would connect oil producers in Canada and the upper Midwestern region of the U.S. to refiners in the Gulf. Besides ensuring a steady flow of North American oil that would make us less dependent on producers oceans away, the pipeline would create thousands of jobs.
While support is strong in all the states like Montana, Nebraska and Oklahoma, through which the pipeline would travel, its approval has been held up by regulators in Washington. We can only conclude that those who object to the project are not focusing on the tangible economic benefits it would produce. As Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry recently noted in The Hill, the newspaper covering the U.S. Congress, “(The project) will produce American jobs and income while stimulating our country’s economy…. This is a shot in the arm that our struggling economy needs right now.”
As of this writing, I’m encouraged to see that a major barrier holding up this long-delayed project has been lifted, with the State Department finding that construction of the pipeline would not have a significant environmental impact. That is good news, but it is not the final word, so we need to continue to remind policymakers how critical this project would be to our economy and our energy security.
Echo Your Support For North American Energy – Secure, Homegrown Resources
In the face of high prices at the fuel pump and global events that threaten oil supply, the United States has the opportunity to actually do something about it. The Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry 700,000 barrels of oil per day from our ally, Canada, as well as from the Dakotas, Montana, and Oklahoma to Gulf Coast refineries, will mean greater national security, a stable fuel supply, and economic growth in the US.
Before this vital project can proceed, the Department of State must issue a Presidential Permit to allow the pipeline to cross from Canada into the United States. After years of environment review, the Department of State concluded that no significant issues exist that should prohibit this project from moving forward. Now, the Department needs to hear why this project is in the nation’s best interest – the final step in the permit’s review process.
Take Action: Please write Secretary Clinton and tell her that increased energy security and economic growth are clearly good things for this country. The Administration must grant the President Permit as expeditiously as possible so Americans can realize these tremendous benefits.
Energy Day 2011 Updates
We are only 45 days away from the first annual Energy Day Festival. On October 15, 2011 75 sponsors and partners, over 80 exhibitors and the people of Houston, TX will make Energy Day 2011 a can’t-miss event. On September 1st, CEA will conduct a conference call on which all sponsors, partners and exhibitors will be invited to participate. We had over 60 participants for the hour and a half call that featured a lively discussion pertaining to exactly what will take place in Downtown Houston on October 15.
Here is the list of confirmed Energy Day sponsors:
ABC-13/KTRK-TV, Air Transport Association, American Public Power Association, Anadarko, Apache, ASES Houston Solar Tour, Bug Ware, Inc., Caterpillar, CenterPoint Energy, Children’s Museum of Houston, 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, Geophysical Society of Houston, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern US, Inc., Greater Houston Partnership, Halliburton, Harris County Department of Education, Hess Corporation, Houston Advanced Research Center, Houston Area Land Rover Centers, Houston Community College-Northeast Energy Institute, Houston Geological Society, 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 System, Momentum Luxury Group , NASA-Johnson Space Center, National Algae Association, NRG Energy | Reliant Energy, Offshore Energy Center, Purestream, Inc., San Jacinto College – Energy Venture Camp, Schlumberger, Science & Engineering Fair of Houston, Shell, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Society of Women Engineers – Houston Area Section, 60 Plus Association, Statoil, Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering, Texas Sol Renewable, Texas Southern University, Jesse H. Jones School of Business, Texas TicKids, The Wind Alliance, TransCanada, TXU Energy, United Airlines, University of Houston, University of Texas, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. DOE Gulf Coast Clean Energy Application Center, Waste Management, Western Energy Alliance, YES Prep Public School
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. Here are a few confirmed exhibits:
- 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….
The Energy Day Academic Awards Program (ECAP) is beginning to come to its conclusion. The year-round program that awards Houston-area students for their efforts in local, energy related, academic competitions will end in front of City Hall at Energy Day on October 15, 2011.
Energy Day Academic Awards Program – Upcoming Events
There are still three events on going and they do not conclude until the end of September. There is still plenty of time for area students to submit their entries. The three events, an art competition, an essay competition and a video competition, are the result of a partnership between CEA, The Houston Geological Society and the Houston Museum of Natural Science- Weiss Energy Hall.
The art competition, entitled “Picturing our Ever Changing Earth” is open to all students grades K-5. The second competition, an essay competition entitled “How Change Shapes our Planet,” is open to those students currently in grades 6-9. Our final competition, a media/video competition entitled “A World of Change in My Community,” is open to all students regardless of class.
For more details on the Energy Capital Academic Program or the remaining ECAP events please go to www.energyday2011.org and click on the Academic Awards tab or email Craig at CKoshkin@consumerenergyalliance.org.
Energy Day Exhibitor’s Spotlight
With Energy Day only 45 days away, we wanted to give you an inside look at exactly what will be on display. For the months of September and October, you will get a look at a few of the exhibitors that will be on hand at Energy Day and what they hope to accomplish.
Shell is a leading oil and gas producer in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, a recognized pioneer in oil and gas exploration and production technology and one of America’s leading oil and natural gas producers, gasoline and natural gas marketers and petrochemical manufacturers. We operate in 50 states and employ more than 22,000 people delivering energy in technically innovative ways.
At Energy Day, Shell will be displaying the following:
Interactive Oil & Gas Display: Shell has partnered with the University of Texas GEO-FORCE students to demonstrate how hydrocarbons are safely extracted from the ground. The demonstrations will be hands-on and will provide a safe, fun way for young students to become excited about the industry.
Eco-Marathon Display: Two Eco-Marathon cars will be on display to showcase Shell’s involvement with renewables, the company’s commitment to innovation and promote next year’s Houston Eco-Marathon.
TAME Trailer Display (bonus space): Shell has also partnered with the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering. TAME will be providing their educational trailblazer trailer that will be located across from the Shell exhibit. The trailer will have hands-on educational science and math activities for children and their families.
Statoil is an international energy company with operations in 34 countries. Building on more than 35 years of experience from oil and gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf, a quarter of our production is now derived from international assets. We are committed to accommodating the world’s energy needs in a responsible manner, applying technology and creating innovative business solutions. Statoil is headquartered in Norway with 20,000 employees worldwide, and is listed on the New York and Oslo stock exchanges. For more information on Statoil please visit www.statoil.com.
The Statoil display will include interactive STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) demonstrations meant to engage and impassion the next generation of technical professionals. The exhibit will also include components that showcase our Heroes of Tomorrow initiative through our partnerships with First LEGO League and the Houston Dynamo.
Houston Museum of Natural Science Wiess Energy Hall
The Wiess Energy Hall is a permanent exhibit in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It explores the application of scientific concepts and advanced technology in the energy industry. The hall incorporates dynamic interactive learning methods including computer graphics, touch screens, holographic video displays, and virtual reality. The Energy Conservation Club, sponsored by Marathon Oil Corporation, is a web portal to help children learn about energy and how to conserve our natural resources.
The goal of the Wiess Energy Hall Energy Conservation Club at Energy Day is to demonstrate concepts of energy transformation and generation through interactive activities. Participants will experience the generation of electricity by turning a hand cranked generator and observing how their energy transforms into light and sound. The relationship of magnetism to electricity generation will come alive as participants operate the Generator Simulator which illustrates the movement of electrons through a conductor. The variety of fuels including fossil fuels and renewables needed to generate electricity will be demonstrated through interactive activities.
Houston Renewable Energy Group
HREG believes we have a choice to live in a responsible and sustainable manner, achievable through renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency measures and proper planning of our cities and communities. The purpose of HREG is to further the development of renewable energy and related arts, sciences, and technologies with concern for the ecological, social and economic fabric of our community and state. This is accomplished through the exchange of ideas and information by means of meetings, publications and public displays. HREG serves to inform public, institutional and governmental bodies and seek to raise the level of public and government awareness of its purpose.
During Energy Day, participants will learn about solar energy systems, energy efficiency and sustainable building technologies by visiting residences and businesses in the Houston area that use these technologies in real world applications and through the Green Energy Fair being conducted at Tranquility Park as part of Energy Day. Participants will have the opportunity to visit over twenty varieties of existing solar solutions, from commercial installations and residential projects to solar thermal hot water and pool heaters.
University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation as a Top Tier university and by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the “Great Colleges to Work for”. UH stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 37,000 students.
The University of Houston will be exhibiting its research and development efforts in renewable/alternative energies and energy sustainability. These include programs in ultra-high efficiency solar cells; wind power generation, architectural integration of alternative energies; clean fuel cell energy; superconductivity and energy savings, clean diesel technology; balloon launch air quality studies; advanced subsurface analysis of hydrocarbon deposits; and sustainability through energy and materials conservation.
Did you know that many electrical products use energy when plugged in, even if turned off? As you read this, many of your own household appliances and conveniences are using “standby power” – the term for using energy when plugged in, yet not in use.
Standby Power is costly to consumers – about 10 percent of household electricity use is due to standby-powered electronics. At any time, the average home in the United States has 40 products constantly using power without the homeowner realizing it.
To save on home electricity bills and reduce wasteful standby power use, try these tips from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
- Unplug devices that aren’t being used
- Use power strips to cut power to groups of electronics at one time
- Purchase low-use standby products
Using tips such as these – and more found here – may save you up to 30 percent of the wasted energy being used in your home.
News from the Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST)
BOEMRE/Industry Workshop Provides Greater Clarity to Permitting Process
Energy operators and staff from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) met today in New Orleans for a full-day workshop aimed at resolving permitting hurdles that are preventing a full return of drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico.
Attended by more than 200 industry and government representatives, the workshop marks an important milestone in the Gulf Economic Survival Team’s work since the end of the moratorium in October 2010 to help this nation get back to work with American energy. GEST was invited to attend the meeting as a result of their continued efforts to facilitate discussions between industry and BOEMRE. In fact, BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich agreed to host today’s workshop during a meeting with GEST representatives, LA DNR Secretary Scott Angelle, and the Back to Work Coalition on July 26 in New Orleans.
“GEST requested that the agency host this workshop to provide a greater level of transparency, clarity and efficiency to the permitting process. We are very appreciative that Director Bromwich was able to fulfill our request, and are pleased with the productive dialogue that we have had today,” says GEST Executive Director Lori LeBlanc.
A final economic report issued by IHS this month indicated that the total number of exploration and development plans pending approval at BOEMRE has increased by more than 90 percent compared to pre-moratorium levels, with pending deepwater plans in particular up 250 percent. Approvals of shallow and deepwater exploration and drilling plans and actual drilling permits are down by more than 85 and 65 percent, respectively. Deepwater permits alone are down by 80 percent.
The IHS study concludes that a more proactive approach for issuing plan and permit approvals would result in 230,000 new or retained American jobs, more than $44 billion in US GDP, nearly $12 billion in tax and royalty revenues, and a reduction of $15 billion in America’s bill for imported oil, all in 2012 alone. One third of jobs created would be outside of the Gulf region, in states like California, Illinois and New York.
“Helping operators better understand and implement new drilling requirements will hopefully reduce permit application return rates and increase permit approvals, benefitting the strained federal agency, America’s energy supply, and the national economy,” explains LeBlanc. “We owe it to our country to continue to give this issue the attention it deserves when you consider the significance in revitalizing our national economy.”
In preparation for today’s workshop, GEST collected questions and concerns from operators and submitted this list to BOEMRE officials. The questions and concerns focused on issues such as the permitting process itself and new permitting requirements, subsea containment, and the new well screening tool being utilized by the federal agency. An afternoon session at the workshop featured a panel of industry representatives discussing best management practices.
BOEMRE also announced today implementation of a new online resource with guidance documents and fact sheets to help operators improve the accuracy of any submittals, as well as a new online permit tracking system. GEST had suggested the development of both of these new tools during ongoing discussions with Director Bromwich over the past few months. With the leadership of Secretary Angelle, GEST representatives have met with Director Bromwich eleven times since January in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.
“While there is still work to be done to streamline the pace of permitting, we are hopeful that today’s workshop and BOEMRE’s new online tools will reduce the number of times applications are recycled back between the agency and operators,” LeBlanc explained. “GEST will continue to monitor the progress of permit approvals and facilitate discussions between industry and BOEMRE in order to get this nation back to work with American energy.”
Full news release is available at www.GulfEconomicSurvival.org