Technology outpacing climate-change legislation, lawmakers say

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 2 -- Technology is moving ahead more quickly than legislation to address global climate change, three federal lawmakers agreed on Dec. 1. Congress won’t be able to get back to work on the issue until 2010, they added.

Bills approved by the full US House and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee haven’t answered significant questions, US Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and US Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said during a forum on US climate and energy policy cosponsored by Newsweek and the American Petroleum Institute. But US Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who cosponsored the House bill, said the measure was an important first step in a long process.

“The measure is analogous to what we did in telecommunications,” Markey said, noting that Congress passed bills in 1992, 1993, and 1996 that launched, respectively, the modern cable, wireless, and broadband systems while creating 2 million new jobs.

Emerging energy technologies could lead to a $2 trillion domestic industry if the US decided to actively support them, Markey said. “We have a choice. Right now, our energy strategy says ‘Made by [the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries].’ If we don’t act, our new strategy will be to use products made in China. We can decide to release our own entrepreneurial spirit instead,” he said.

The US Department of Energy has what effectively is the largest energy venture capital resource in history with federal economic stimulus funds it received to support new technology research and development, according to Dorgan. “I think there are unbelievably exciting things going on that we don’t fully understand yet, but that will help us a lot,” he said.

Outside government
The private sector is moving ahead too, other panelists said. US oil and gas companies collectively spend three times as much as the federal government in alternative and renewable energy R&D, API Pres. Jack N. Gerard said. US automakers plan to introduce new models in the next few years, including General Motors’ Chevy Volt, which could drastically advance electric hybrid technology late in 2010, Upton pointed out.

The two climate bills currently before Congress could jeopardize such efforts and harm other US industries during a significant economic recession, Gerard argued. “We need to reset the discussion. The bill which passed the House and the one which the Senate EPW committee approved kill jobs and penalize specific industries,” he said.

Upton said the bill that the House passed by seven votes on June 26 did not contain enough protections for businesses and consumers using electricity generated from coal. “I’m convinced that if we had the vote today, it would go down by 50 votes,” he said, adding that an energy bill which the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved by 15 to 8 votes on June 17 was more balanced because it was truly bipartisan.

The bill, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (S. 1462), has not been brought to the floor, Dorgan confirmed, partly because of Senate Republicans’ efforts to block new legislation. “We’re not getting bipartisan support on anything. We have to file cloture motions on noncontroversial issues,” he said.

But Dorgan also questioned the heavy reliance on a carbon cap-and-trade program in the measures which have moved forward. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with simply handing a new $1 trillion commodities market to Wall Street on Monday and hoping it will responsibly establish a price by Thursday,” he said. “There are more direct ways for government to reduce emissions such as a carbon tax and command-and-control measures.”

Senate hearing
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee leaders sent a similar signal as they opened a Dec. 2 hearing on greenhouse gas reduction policy options. Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) said that he has supported a cap-and-trade approach for some time, but added that carbon taxes, direct regulation, sector-specific approaches, and technological innovations may achieve the same results.

“It’s important to note that these policies are not mutually exclusive,” he continued. “In fact, it will more than likely be necessary to rely on a suite of these policies to ensure that we are effective in addressing global warming.”

“We need to dispense with the blind faith in cap-and-trade that has dominated the past year of debate, or at least question whether that loyalty is truly warranted,” said Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), the committee’s ranking minority member. “A more inclusive debate would allow us to examine which policies are actually capable of reducing emissions while protecting, or even strengthening, the economy.”

She said the Senate should explore other options, including pairing tax cuts with a price on emissions. Murkowski emphasized that she isn’t suggesting that any approach for reducing emissions not be considered or planning to reduce any tax reform legislation, but has become concerned that the congressional climate change debate has become too narrow.

At the Newsweek-API event, Gerard said the oil and gas industry should get an opportunity to explore more of the US Outer Continental Shelf following 25 years of congressional moratoriums and presidential withdrawals. “We really haven’t been given the opportunity to determine just how much oil and gas we have,” he said, noting that production at Prudhoe Bay, which originally was expected to be 9 billion bbl, has passed 15 billion bbl, and the Gulf of Mexico, which once was considered depleted, has produced 40 billion bbl “and we’ve just scratched the surface.”

Markey responded that the US can’t indefinitely continue consuming 25% of the world’s oil production while having only 2-3% of total global reserves. “I think we can be open-minded about more drilling, particularly for natural gas, but we need to change our overall approach,” he said. “Clearly, [US President Barack H. Obama] has put health care up front, but the energy bill and financial reform are both on deck.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

AER orders Apache Canada to address integrity of pipeline system

07/08/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator has directed Apache Canada Ltd. to address the integrity of its pipeline management system because of “failure to follow p...

API releases pipeline safety recommended practice

07/08/2015 The American Petroleum Institute released a pipeline safety recommended practice that it developed with engagement from the US Pipeline and Hazardo...

MARKET WATCH: Brent oil prices climb; NYMEX oil price holds below $53/bbl

07/08/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices settled slightly lower on the New York market July 7 to remain under $53/bbl as Brent crude oil prices gained mode...

EIA: US oil output fell 50,000 b/d in May

07/07/2015 Total US crude oil production dropped 50,000 b/d in May compared with April and is expected to continue falling through early 2016 before growth re...

BLM approves ROW for Elko gas pipeline expansion project

07/07/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Tuscarora, Nev., field office signed a decision record approving a right-of-way for Paiute Pipeline Co.’s (PPC) ...

Obama urged by IPAA president to lift ban on US crude exports

07/07/2015 Commending the administration for its actions allowing some condensate to be exported as a petroleum product, Independent Petroleum Association of ...

AER shuts in 16 Murphy Oil sites in Peace River region for noncompliance

07/07/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator said it has shut in or partially shut in 16 sites operated by Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. in the Peace River region. The sites wer...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent oil prices take dive on world oil oversupply concerns

07/07/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices plummeted more than $4/bbl on the New York market July 6, marking a 5-month low, while Brent crude oil prices on t...

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected