Elections 2012

If Congress and President Obama are ever going to get serious about tax reform, they will have to rethink some of the biggest and most popular tax breaks. It won’t be easy. Those tax breaks mostly benefit powerful voting blocs: the middle-class and the wealthy. The federal government gives up $1 trillion in revenue every year because of the hundreds of tax credits, deductions, exemptions and exclusions in the tax code. And the top 10 account for most of that $1 trillion. (Table of Top 10 below.)

When Ken Salazar announced he would step down as Secretary of the US Department of the Interior it created a difficult decision for President Obama and brought a campaign issue back to the fore. Regulating development on federally-owned lands – particularly for oil and gas drilling – is one of the most polarizing energy issues of the day and because this is a primary function at the Interior Department, the issue and the department’s role has exploded into the political arena.

The department’s mission: “The US Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.” The onshore and offshore acreage managed by Interior account for 30 percent of US natural gas output, 30 percent of the country’s oil production and up to 40 percent of US coal production. Keep reading →

Numerous factors are set to influence US energy policy under the second Obama Administration and during the new Congress, including a leadership change at the EPA, tax code reformation, fracking, the Keystone Pipeline and Alaskan oil exploration, just to name a few.

In this video, Breaking Energy discusses important energy policy considerations for the administration, the 113th Congress and energy companies with Ian Nathan, Manager of Global Gas and LNG at Energy Intelligence Research & Advisory, a consultancy and publisher. Keep reading →

Working in the energy sector is an inherently political activity. I once sat opposite a friend of a friend at lunch, and when she found out that I covered the energy business and then quizzed me on the industry’s practices, asked if I found people often wanted to hit me. I don’t find that, but the way a modern economy depends on the energy business means that everyone – along the entire spectrum of beliefs – also has opinions about its politics in ways that don’t necessarily reflect a subtle, shifting, complex reality.

Over the course of 2012, we’ve been focusing on the issues at play in energy politics, and have gathered them together in a special hub that can be found on Breaking Energy here. Keep reading →

Few topics have received as much attention over the past year as the concept of an energy independent United States. In fact, energy independence featured prominently in the run-up to the US presidential election. But what does energy independence really mean?

In the US, energy can be broken down mainly into electrical power – which accounts for 63% of total US primary energy consumption – and liquid transportation fuels – which account for the remaining 37%. As reported earlier this year in Breaking Energy, the US is already effectively energy independent when it comes to power generation, so it is worth instead focusing on the transportation side of the equation, where the issue of importing energy is more relevant. Keep reading →

Exporting crude oil from the US has been a politically divisive issue given given the country’s significant level of import dependence, which has dramatically declined in recent years with the shale gas and tight oil production boom.

This domestic liquids production increase – which is primarily light and sweet – fetches higher prices on the international market than the lower quality grades many refineries along the Gulf Coast have been configured to process. This has led some industry watchers and analysts to suggest that it would make economic sense to export surplus crude and liquids while purchasing cheaper heavy oil from global markets that can be efficiently refined into gasoline and other finished products here in the US. Keep reading →

The 2012 presidential election was truly part of its time not only in the issues it addressed but in the way it was run and analyzed. Large data sets were gathered and poured over and drove not only the campaigns but the streams of analysis that surrounded their outcomes.

Voting data still emerging from the election shows a number of interesting trends, some expected and others surprising. For energy sector observers tracking the public reaction to one of the election’s most pivotal issues, surprises have continued to roll in, reflecting the evolving fortunes and the shifting geographical focus of the energy sector in the US since 2008. Keep reading →

The concept of the United States being energy independent has been around for decades, with the past 8 US presidents calling for it and even suggesting dates by when it might be achieved. However, the recent ramp up in domestic oil and gas production has drastically reduced oil imports and rejuvenated the discussion, with some believing the long sought-after goal could finally be around the corner.

Some have suggested that North American energy independence – including petroleum exports – is a more realistic pursuit. Others maintain energy security is what really matters and that it’s impossible and even undesirable to disconnect the US from the global oil market. Keep reading →

When people think about applications for natural gas in the US some of the most iconic images are kitchen stove burner tips and large power plants. However, natural gas liquids are widely used in manufacturing thousands of everyday products, as well as fertilizers and other applications that people may not be as familiar with. Keep reading →

The Keystone Pipeline emerged as one of the most prominent energy issues of 2012 and the US presidential election. The line is controversial because it would transport synthetic crude oil produced from Alberta’s oil sands deposits – oil that is more energy intensive to produce than conventional crude. The resource has been dubbed “dirty oil” by activists who also oppose its route through environmentally sensitive areas.

Proponents of the pipeline claim it would transport oil more efficiently from producing regions to demand centers, particularly the massive US Gulf Coast refining complex. The project would also benefit the US and Canadian economies by creating jobs and lowering gasoline prices, they say. Keep reading →

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