Energy policy in the US has been a prominent issue leading up to the elections this fall and the topic could gain momentum along the way. Commodity price manipulation, fracking, the Keystone pipeline and environmental regulations were just a few of the topics discussed at a breakfast panel held by the American Petroleum Institute in Washington DC this morning.
Recent upward trending US oil and natural gas production is great news for the nation, but the political system is driven by negatives, said former Senator and Congressman of North Dakota, Byron Dorgan.
Byron believes that gasoline prices are likely to remain on the menu of hot button issues both campaigns will focus on in the run up to November.
“Government needs to move at the pace of business,” when it comes to approving drilling permits on federal lands, said James Connaughton, Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor for the utility Exelon.
Energy production in the US is dominated by four states and 11 swing states are net energy consumers, Kevin Book, Managing Director of Research at Clearview Energy Partners pointed out at the API event.
Policy is reactive, said Book, and although energy demand has decreased as a result of the economic slowdown, businesses need to invest now so the supply and demand balance does not become uncomfortably tight during a potential recovery in the economy and a resulting boost in demand.
The panel members generally agreed that regulatory uncertainty is a major challenge for companies operating in the energy sector.
“We are seeing a lot of money on the sidelines” in the electricity sector due to uncertainty over coal plant regulations, said Joseph Stanko, Partner at law firm Hunton and Williams.