Climate-change legislative outlook still uncertain, experts say

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8 -- Prospects for congressional passage of climate change legislation in the wake of BP PLC’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico remain uncertain despite President Barack Obama’s call for action, experts at Deloitte LLC’s 2010 Washington energy conference said on June 7.

“There are only 65 legislative days left until the November elections,” said Gregory M. Scott, executive vice-president and general counsel at the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, during a session on climate change legislation. “Politicians won’t want to impose that kind of pain on their constituents.”

“We hope policymakers won’t rush to react,” added Karen A. Harbert, president of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the US Chamber of Commerce, who was on the same panel. “Their actions now could be felt for decades. I think most voters understand this, even in the wake of this oil spill. They’ll have to bite the bullet and legislate for the long term instead of for a 24-hr news cycle.”

“The challenge shouldn’t be underestimated. Every single US job is based on affordable, reliable energy. We can’t ignore that,” observed a third panelist, US Energy Association Pres. Barry K. Worthington. “I’m not sure we can build the legal and regulatory framework where investors would be willing to take on the liabilities.”

But Joseph A. Stanislaw, an independent senior advisor on energy and sustainability at Deloitte, said a climate-change bill could get through Congress if Obama puts the kind of weight behind it that he put behind health care reform legislation. “The administration’s coming into play on this is significant,” he told reporters at a luncheon. “If its leadership is strong, we’ll see something happen.”

‘Establish framework’
“No climate bill is going to be perfect,” suggested Branko Terzic, Deloitte’s energy and resources regulatory policy leader. “Even if it’s the wrong price, it would be better than no prices because it would at least establish a framework. We’d get the infrastructure and mechanisms in place, with people, software, and trading floors pointing the way forward.”

Outcry over the oil spill probably has improved a climate bill’s chances, he added. “It has caused people to think about the relationship between energy and the environment,” said Terzic. One possible result could be that future developers of any major industrial or civic project will be required to provide contingency plans for highly damaging events, even if those events are considered very unlikely, he said.

“It’s intensified and emotionalized people’s feelings about the environment,” Stanislaw said. “Any energy source will be questioned—even wind and solar. Everything will be closely scrutinized.”

During the climate-change session, Harbert said one reason the US does not have a national energy policy is that there are 13 federal agencies and 26 congressional committees trying to formulate it. The bill developed by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and passed by the House in June 2009 was promoted as providing certainty, but there were so many mandates and exemptions in its 1,400 pages that it did the opposite, she maintained.

She also suggested that the US Department of Defense, as the nation’s single biggest energy customer, should take an active part in developing new fuel and electricity regulations. Congress also should address environmental and permitting problems that have led to 380 stalled or canceled projects, many of which were from renewable sources, over the last 3 years, she added.

Toolbox not full
“Energy jobs are not being created because we’re incapable of getting anything built in this country,” said Harbert. “Our toolbox is not full yet. We don’t have the technology to meet our goals. I think it’s astonishing that we don’t have a research and development tax credit for new technologies.”

While crediting US Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and their staffs for reaching out to refiners as they tried to develop compromise legislation, Scott said that their proposal improved some aspects of the Waxman-Markey bill but left other problems in it unsolved.

“They moved the enforcement point to the terminal rack level,” the NPRA official said. “It’s an improvement, but one for the refining industry that’s a choice between lethal injection and the electric chair.”

He and Harbert expressed concern over impacts if the Obama administration’s 6-month deepwater drilling moratorium lasts longer. “The number of jobs that would be lost is very worrisome to many companies,” she said. “Workers are already being laid off and projects are being canceled. We need to be prepared if it goes on.”

“My concern is that the gulf oil spill will turn the clock back 20 years,” said Scott. “The domestic refining industry needs supplies from the US deepwater offshore and from Canada. If it doesn’t get them, more refining will take place overseas and US dependence on crude oil imports will become dependence on imported petroleum products.”

Contact Nick Snow at

Related Articles

WOTUS rule implementation uncertain after conflicting court decisions

08/28/2015 The US Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers reportedly began to implement their controversial Waters of the United States (W...

Keystone XL decision isn’t imminent, White House press secretary says

08/28/2015 A presidential decision on TransCanada Corp.’s cross-border permit application for its proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is not imminent, Whi...

Extension sought for Mackenzie Gas Project

08/28/2015 The earliest possible construction start for the Mackenzie Gas Project, which would connect natural gas fields in the Canadian Arctic with northwes...

Tap Oil signs PSC for block offshore Myanmar

08/28/2015 Tap Oil Ltd. reported its entry into Myanmar following the signing of the production-sharing contract for shallow-water Block M-7 in the Moattama b...

EIA: US oil, gas supply less vulnerable to hurricanes in 2015

08/28/2015 A relatively light hurricane season anticipated for 2015 and an overall decline in the Gulf of Mexico’s share of US crude oil and natural gas produ...

Rosneft, Egas sign master LNG supply, purchase deal


Rosneft Group unit Rosneft Trading SA and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. (Egas) have signed a master LNG supply and purchase agreement.

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude oil prices both surge in one-day rally

08/28/2015 The crude oil price for October delivery settled up nearly $4/bbl on the New York market Aug. 27, marking its biggest single-day gain in more than ...

PetroChina reports first half results


PetroChina Co. Ltd. reported first-half increases in output of crude, natural gas, and refined products compared with a year earlier.

BLM brings its Master Leasing Plan concept to Utah

08/27/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Moab, Utah, field office began a 90-day comment period on Aug. 21 for a draft proposed Master Leasing Plan for 9...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

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
Available Webcasts

Better Data, Better Analytics, Better Decisions

When Tue, Oct 27, 2015

The Oil & Gas industry has large amounts of data stored in multiple systems which are purpose built for certain tasks. However, good decisions require insights based upon the data in all of these systems. These systems in turn do not talk to each other. So the process of analyzing data, gaining insights, and making decisions is a slow one and often a flawed one. Good decisions require accurate analytics and accurate analytics require superior/sustainable data quality and governance. This webinar focuses on:

  • The importance of data quality and governance
  • How technological advances are making data quality and governance sustainable in order to get the accurate analytics to make solid decisions.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Seven Lakes Technologies and Noah Consulting.


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

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.


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