So a number of different takes on Obama’s SOTU. I’m not surprise by his approach, and I generally support how he attempted to handle balance dirty energy and clean energy. I still maintain the he will allow Keystone XL to happen, although after the next election; it’s too big of a resource to not happen, and I think him delaying it so long will eventually help his credibility about caring for the environment. It’s difficult in the US to talk seriously and be realistic about energy needs in the US and I see his approach as an unpopular one if you were to directly ask “average joe of either party”, but I think he’s trying to tightrope a very difficult path towards being an energy realist, without hurting anyone’s feelings too much. Not an enviable position, for sure.
This is an update from a previous position I held, that Obama was being far too indirect about energy needs and resources and abilities… but at least now the ‘indirectness’ seems appropriate, or perhaps even necessary, at this stage. The US is, IMO, much like a young person coming to terms with reality, in regard to a nation-wide energy discussion. It is still mainly dominated by it’s overbearing parents (Big Oil) in terms of how reality is viewed, and it’s also starting to question the idealism of rushing towards green energy, or putting all its faith in Big Oil. There is more of a warped polarization still lingering than not, but I appreciate how Obama attempted to frame things in this years SOTU. Definitely still not where the US needs to be to be competitive and sustainable in terms of energy, but at least a step in the right direction.
(Main link from the legendary Oil Drum website)
You can see a lot of backlash from GOP about Keystone XL here (Bloomberg). I’m personally not convinced that KXL would be the greatest thing we could do for our economy - the actual jobs created by it depends on a lot of things. Doing something a lot harder, like actually producing people with the skills to do tech jobs that are needed (and are also globally competitive) is going to do a lot more for this and the next (and the past, perhaps) generation, economically, than the creation of one pipeline. We need an army of engineers and scientists and high tech manufacturers, period.
“The president should — I call it a conditional yes — say, ‘Yes, TransCanada, if you’re willing to move forward and take a risk that Nebraska will get it done,’ which we will, ‘you go ahead and start building from our northern border and our southern border,’” [Nebraska Governor] Heineman said.
I think Gov Heineman’s approach may be a useful one and one that is ultimately adopted. I think the economic pressure from both Canada and the US, combined with real energy needs, is more or less an unstoppable force. And as mentioned above, I would guess Obama is aware of this and trying to find the best time to let it blossom. The ideal time for him will likely be after he is elected, or, perhaps, making an announcement of some sort, like Heineman suggested, before the election this November.
State owned Chinese energy companies are not pouring billions of dollars into developing Alberta’s oil sands so more synthetic crude or bitumen can be sent to refineries in Cushing, Oklahoma. While the sudden about turn by the Obama Administration may have been a rude awakening for some folks in Calgary’s Petroleum Club, in the end it only serves to reroute Canadian oil to where world markets will ultimately dictate that it flow.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper once remarked it was a no brainer for the Keystone XL pipeline to connect Alberta oil sand product to supply U.S. markets. Looking at geography, it is easy to understand the remark. But looking at where market growth will occur, the Prime Minister’s sentiments are misguided.
U.S. gasoline consumption continues to fall, and it is now down to the lowest levels in more than a decade. The future of the oil sands lies with the growth of oil demand in Asian markets, not in American ones. And that future, more than any regulatory decision in either the United States or Canada , will depend on the price of oil.
I think this article has significance in describing the overall trend of the oil market and Asia’s development, but I am not so sure that Canada would give the US the cold shoulder about other projects. I would guess anyone paying attention to the vast politicization of Keystone XL, with an intent to understand ‘why’ things are playing out this way — like a rather arbitrary and easily overturnable 60 day deadline pressed by Congress during the US payroll tax debate — would realize there is more going on than mere “interest” or lack there of. If anything, I’d suspect — just like with the US potentially not raising its debt ceiling last year — the US’s lack of cohesiveness makes it a questionable trading partner more than anything else.
Just another reason for the US to continue to its struggles toward having a realistic energy dialogue take place amongst its people.
“The Republican narrative is that Obama is shoveling huge amounts of money to his cronies in the renewable industry, and blocking the real energy that American needs,” Slocum said in an interview. “It’s a false narrative. The administration has been focused on green energy, but they haven’t been against fossil fuels.”
It is a false narrative, but, the claims that Obama instilled a resurgence in US natural gas also are false. I think the amount you view Obama as ‘taking credit’ for the natural gas boom in US depends somewhat on your party alignment.
“The losses due to the Obama administration’s death-grip on offshore drilling and its unwillingness to open federal lands or issue timely permits for exploration far outweigh any energy gains that the White House may tout this week,” Thomas Pyle, president of the Washington-based Institute for Energy Research, said in a statement.
Also, curiously, the day after the State of the Union address, Democrats from the committe on Energy & Commerce are requesting testimony from the Koch Industries et al about KXL.
Today Reps. Henry A. Waxman, Bobby L. Rush, John D. Dingell, Edward J. Markey, Eliot L. Engel, Lois Capps, Mike Doyle, Charles A. Gonzalez, and Kathy Castor sent a letter to Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield to request at least one additional day of hearings on draft legislation to direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, pursuant to rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives. The members are requesting testimony on the pipeline from Koch Industries and other federal agencies to fully understand the effects of the proposed legislation. The members emphasized that the hearing should be scheduled prior to a Subcommittee markup of the legislation.
Finally, for now, Obama surprised me with citing this curious bit of information:
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama referred to the findings of a Breakthrough Institute investigation, which found that 30 years of federal funding led to the shale gas revolution.
“It was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years,” said the president, “that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock — reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.”
Although I’m not sure if the Breakthrough Institute was ‘the source’ for such findings for Obama, it was a great source for me in looking into the subsidizing that lead to our current state of shale gas production.
I think making remarks like that - about subsidy, and (below) about the problems that come with developing new energy technologies - show a somewhat more matured stance on addressing energy issues with the US public. It’s not great, but perhaps adequate for now, and may help put things like “Solyndra” into more perspective, hopefully leading to less polarized politicization of energy talk, and more understanding, more context:
Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these
public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies
don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the
promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like
Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China
or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough.
It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely
been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry
that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and
create these jobs.