The Energy Opportunity In Washington

on November 15, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Energy as the driver of a number of key public policy issues, and energy as a bipartisan antidote to Washington’s dysfunctions – both are seen in the results of an election-night survey of actual U.S. voters, results that should guide the next administration and the new Congress. Key points:

  • 80 percent of American voters support increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas.
  • 81 percent support increased development of the country’s energy infrastructure.
  • 87 percent agree that increased access to domestic oil and natural gas reserves could help stimulate the economy.
  • 85 percent agree increased access to oil and gas reserves could help strengthen U.S. energy security.

These responses and others form the foundation for an energy action agenda – action that harnesses the transformative power of America’s domestic energy renaissance for job creation, economic growth, increased security and climate/environmental progress. After one of the most difficult election campaigns in U.S. history, those who are looking to bring the country together, to generate beneficial change, should look to energy. There’s opportunity and there’s broad public consensus.

API President and CEO Jack Gerard discussed the polling data and messages from voters to policymakers in Tuesday’s election during a conference call with reporters. (You can read Gerard’s delivered remarks later in this post.)

What’s clear is that Americans with their votes want strong leadership and functioning government institutions, not more rancor and dysfunction. Again, energy offers bipartisan opportunity for progress in Washington that will benefit millions of Americans. Gerard:

“[W]ith a Republican Senate, a Republican House and a Republican presidency, I think there’s opportunity to come together. But I think it’s also important that we listen closely to what the American voter said. That’s why I believe the polling data we’ve shared today is so significant. It’s overwhelming that they see the American energy renaissance as a positive, and they want us to continue that trajectory. So our counsel would be – to Republicans, to Democrats, to chairmen to ranking members to governors to state legislators – let’s come together as Americans across the country at all levels of government and say how do we continue the American energy renaissance, creating those well-paying jobs, protecting our environment while we do it, but making it good for the American public, the American consumer and the American voter.”

America’s energy trajectory is one that’s climbing. The U.S. is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, and that reality has supported economic growth, provided consumer savings, strengthen our national security and helped advance climate goals. To sustain America’s energy renaissance we need sustaining policies – on regulation, on access to reserves and on expanding infrastructure. American voters see this quite clearly. The change in administration and a new Congress offers a chance to reset U.S. energy priorities. Gerard:

“We need to look at the current regulatory approach holistically. There’s currently pending over 145 regulations or other actions that impede our ability to produce affordable, reliable energy. … I would suggest the whole approach (to regulation) should be a priority. What is being done to impede our ability to really satisfy what the American voter wants should be looked at and reviewed. With the new administration coming to town and the new Congress coming to town, I think we need to say what else can we do to advance and promote the American energy renaissance? And right now regulatory redundancy, overreach and added cost for no benefit is clearly a top priority.”

Gerard pointed to the current administration’s move to add new regulation on methane emissions from industry operations – despite data showing companies are reducing emissions. He cautioned that new regulatory layers could add unnecessary costs, create conflict and duplication and be generally counterproductive.

Gerard said both the Trump and Clinton campaigns identified infrastructure as a top priority – making it an obvious path for bridging past political divides. He pointed to $1.1 trillion in potential energy infrastructure investment waiting to happen:

“That is a huge opportunity that doesn’t require taxpayer dollars. That’s the energy industry coming out and saying how do we get our product to the marketplace, how do we move it to refineries, how do we get it to consumers most cost effectively? So, with infrastructure we need to take a close look at permitting. The Dakota (Access) Pipeline … and the Keystone  (XL) pipeline are examples. We need to build this infrastructure that benefits American consumers , and so I’m hopeful, that on a bipartisan basis, we can gather around an approach to infrastructure and release those investment dollars that are anxious to be invested one they’re confident there won’t be arbitrary decisions made that would restrict our ability to build the infrastructure.”

On climate, energy already has a demonstrated leadership role, with increased use of cleaner-burning natural gas allowing the U.S. to lower its energy-sector emissions of carbon dioxide to 25-year lows. Gerard:

“What we have now found through market conditions and through the American energy renaissance is that we can in fact be a leader in world production and at the same time address climate concerns. So rather than have this divisive conversation about who’s a believer and who’s a denier, we believe we need to move beyond that and look at the solutions. … There’s a good practice here that should be looked at, and we would encourage the incoming administration and, frankly, our allies around the world to look at the U.S. success story and let’s model energy policy around what really works as opposed to theoretical, ideological conversations.”

Below, Gerard’s delivered remarks from today’s conference call:

After one of the most contentious election seasons in recent memory, it may seem like the American people don’t agree on much. But if there’s one issue that earns high approval from Americans of all political identifications, it’s American energy leadership.

API conducted an election night survey of actual voters, and the findings reveal that more than 80 percent of voters agree that U.S. oil and natural gas production can help achieve each of their most important priorities: job creation, economic growth, lower energy costs, and energy security.

With drivers today saving more than $550 a year in fuel costs and household budgets growing by $1,337 due to utility and other energy-related savings in 2015, it should come as no surprise that voters appreciate the positive economic impact of U.S. energy.  Americans not only recognize the benefits of the U.S. energy renaissance but they also support actions that would build on our position as the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer.

Eighty percent of voters support increased development of U.S. oil and natural gas resources including 71 percent of Democrats, 94 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents. Eighty-one percent support increased development of the country’s energy infrastructure. On the other hand, 75 percent expressed concern about government requirements that would increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, while 72 percent oppose higher taxes that could decrease investment in energy production and reduce energy development. Of that 72 percent were 62 percent Democrats, 70 percent Independents and 86 percent of Republicans.

As a candidate, President-Elect Trump pledged to pursue an energy approach that would include “opening federal lands for oil and gas production, opening offshore areas, and revoking policies that are imposing unnecessary restrictions on innovative and new exploration technologies.” Polling confirms that a Trump administration that pursues such forward-thinking energy policies will have strong voter support behind it.

With the oil and natural gas industry facing 145 regulations or other policy-setting activities that could discourage production, preventing regulatory overreach should be a top priority. A combination of industry innovation, market forces and existing standards have proven effective for keeping hydraulic fracturing safe and reducing emissions of ozone, methane and carbon. In fact, the United States leads the world in reduction of carbon emissions, with clean-burning natural gas driving emissions in the power sector to near 25-year lows. And we achieved that success while leading the world in oil and natural gas production, which has created good-paying energy jobs, helped cut manufacturing costs and spurred small business activity throughout the nation. Our success demonstrates that a market-based, consumer-focused regulatory approach is the right one, whether the issue is environmental protection or fuels policy.

In his acceptance speech, President-Elect Trump vowed to rebuild U.S. infrastructure. Building the pipelines and other energy infrastructure we need to keep pace with 21st century energy production could create more than 1 million shovel-ready jobs that don’t rely on taxpayer funding. Oil and natural gas pipelines transport energy at a 99.999 percent safety rate, and investing in additional energy infrastructure will ensure we can continue to deliver affordable energy to homes and businesses throughout the nation.

One final poll result captures the kind of energy strategy Americans expect and deserve. Seventy-two percent of voters say they support a national energy policy that ensures a secure supply of abundant, affordable and available energy for the American people in an environmentally responsible manner. That description serves both as a good summary of what the American energy revolution is accomplishing and as a guiding principle for the next administration’s energy policy.

We look forward to working with the new Congress and the Trump administration to implement voters’ energy priorities and maintain America’s global energy leadership.

By Mark Green 

Originally posted November 10, 2016

Energy Tomorrow is brought to you by the American Petroleum Institute (API), which is the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Our more than 500 corporate members, from the largest major oil company to the smallest of independents, come from all segments of the industry. They are producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators and marine transporters, as well as service and supply companies that support all segments of the industry.