After months of sheltering in place, Americans are finally returning to their favorite restaurants, stores, and barbershops. As of June 1, all 50 states have started to reopen.
We may not know what life after the coronavirus looks like, but one thing is certain. As life returns to normal, millions of Americans will rely on natural gas to refuel their cars and reopen their businesses.
Fortunately, America’s energy sector was well prepared to survive the coronavirus outbreak. Having weathered the storm, natural gas producers will help get the economy humming in a way that benefits American consumers and the environment alike.
COVID-19 certainly caused problems for America’s energy sector. But even despite these recent setbacks, natural gas has proven quite resilient. U.S. natural gas prices have remained relatively steady over the past few months. And the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects average natural gas consumption to fall by less than 4 percent this year.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. America’s shale energy boom helped make natural gas the leading source of electricity nationwide. More than 38 percent of the nation’s power came from natural gas in 2019. With demand expected to rebound as early as next year, it seems like natural gas will remain the nation’s go-to energy source for the foreseeable future.
That’s great news for Americans. Ever since the United States became the world’s leading producer of natural gas, households across the country have seen their energy costs plummet. Americans will continue to benefit as the country grows more reliant on natural gas. Low gas prices will add $2,700 to the average household’s disposable income this year, according to an analysis from the research firm IHS. That number is expected to rise to $3,500 per household by 2025.
By moving the country away from coal, the natural gas boom also helps the environment. Last year, America once again led the world in reducing energy-related CO2 emissions. Between 2000 and 2019, the United States achieved a whopping 1 gigaton emissions reduction — more than any other country during that period.
These environmental gains will continue as gas-fired plants displace more of their coal-fired counterparts. The EIA projects that domestic energy-related CO2 emissions will keep falling well into the next decade.
America’s energy renaissance has even helped Europe reduce its emissions. Thanks to record-high natural gas imports, Europe saw a 15 percent increase in power generation from natural gas in 2019 — and a 20 percent decrease in the use of coal. Unsurprisingly, the European Union and the United Kingdom saw a 12 percent decrease in power sector CO2 emissions last year. Globally, CO2 emissions flattened in 2019.
Such a sustained drop in global carbon pollution would have been unthinkable just two decades ago. But thanks to the natural gas renaissance made possible by hydraulic fracturing, reductions like these have become the new normal.
It will take a lot to recover from the economic disruption of COVID-19. But come what may, the country can rely on natural gas to power the economy and clean up the environment.
In his final attempt to torpedo Pennsylvania’s Mariner East II Pipeline, now-former Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan filed criminal charges last month against security contractors hired to secure pipeline construction sites. Sadly, the accusations are merely another publicity stunt in the DA’s crusade to upend the permitted project rather than an honest effort to serve the public. Pennsylvanians deserve better than this kind of gamesmanship that puts political agendas ahead of residents’ welfare.
The charges accuse several security personnel employed by Mariner East of paying state constables to provide security for the pipeline during construction. The constables’ authority, Mr. Hogan alleges, was used as a “weapon” to “intimidate citizens.” But the facts of the situation tell a different story—one that when coupled with the DA’s record of claims against the Mariner East point a finger back at Mr. Hogan for politicizing his public office.
It’s not uncommon for businesses of all industries to employ private security. That’s especially true for energy developers and operators, who regularly hire personnel to not only protect their investments, but also to ensure individuals are not inadvertently injured by equipment or ongoing construction around infrastructure sites.
Long before the Mariner East developers contracted the security personnel now under scrutiny, they consulted local law enforcement about the possibility of using state constables. Those authorities raised no concerns. And it’s hard to imagine why they would.
Pipelines have become targets for environmental extremists, and reports of sabotage and other criminal activities against energy infrastructure have grown in recent years. In fact, one disgruntled Central Pennsylvania landowner even lured bears to pipeline work sites, set fires near equipment, and harassed workers in an unlawful attempt to halt the pipeline. Another group admitted to sabotaging equipment in Southeast Pennsylvania. It’s a sad reality that pipeline operators often need extra security to prevent senseless attacks, and based on past criminal activity, it’s necessary for the Mariner East builders to take additional precautions.
It’s also important to understand the function of Pennsylvania’s constables. Like a sheriff, a constable is an elected or appointed position in the executive branch of government. Primarily, they serve at the direction of the courts to issue summons and warrants and the like, but they are fully empowered to enforce both criminal and civil laws.
Unlike most law enforcement officials, constables do not receive a set salary. They are compensated by assignment at rates established by state law. As public peace officers, constables are employed by a third party—never directly, as a security guard would be. In that way, Mariner East’s situation is not unusual: The developer hired a private contractor to secure the construction sites. The contractor then enlisted the support of state constables.
John-Walter Weiser and Philip Intrieri, the president and the solicitor of the Commonwealth Constable Association, respectively, recently called out the absurdity of the Chester County DA’s claims. “It is frankly offensive to accuse a constable of ‘selling his badge,’ when he is only operating under a fee-driven system he did not create, and which is intended to save our tax dollars,” Weiser and Intrieri wrote last month. “Filing felony charges of law when that law is unclear is a grievous abuse of power.”
It’s impossible to reconcile the precautions taken to add extra security around the Mariner East Pipeline with the charges now being leveled. Instead, the evidence points to a pattern of abuse of public office to wage an ideological campaign against midstream energy infrastructure. Mr. Hogan has criticized Mariner East of environmental crimes and has promised that other charges are “coming down the line.” In his statement announcing the most recent allegations, Mr. Hogan goes so far as to accuse Governor Wolf of being “asleep at the wheel.” All this was said and done as Mr. Hogan was leaving office.
The DA’s attacks against the Mariner East Pipeline seem to peel back the true motives behind these latest charges—which are to derail energy infrastructure deployment in Pennsylvania. But these accusations are too serious for residents to accept as politics as usual. As Hogan’s successor Deborah Ryan takes office, it is critical that Pennsylvanians are afforded an open debate about the Commonwealth’s energy security—not policy by litigation that, apparently, will readily sacrifice those who find themselves on the wrong side of the agenda of those in power.
His ‘Clean Energy Revolution’ echoes Obama-Biden’s eco-failures.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s Clean Energy Revolution exploded on the launch pad Tuesday. Large, now-attributed passages of his manifesto against so-called global warming initially were lifted from other publications. Biden’s plagiarism recalled his flat-out theft of a speech by far-left British parliamentarian Neil Kinnock in 1987.
But Biden’s plan is far worse than just partially stolen. It confirms that the “centrist” Biden is just another big-government leftist, hooked on high taxes and reckless spending.
Biden’s Revolution is a $1.7 trillion tax hike. It enshrines his pitch to voters in South Carolina and elsewhere: “First thing I’d do is repeal those Trump tax cuts.” Biden pledges to rescind the tax relief that has resuscitated U.S. industry, revived 3.2 percent GDP growth, and reduced unemployment to 3.6 percent and historical or near-record lows for blacks, Hispanics, and women.
After siphoning $1.7 trillion from America’s productive sector, Biden would follow the liberal playbook: Assign Washington-based experts to redistribute this bounty more wisely and justly than the bedraggled American people ever could.
Biden, no surprise, recommends a Santa’s sleigh of “allocated tax credits and subsidies” for “sustainable” initiatives. The eco-crats will succeed next time. After all, Washington always learns from its mistakes. And mistakes multiplied as the Obama-Biden administration poured taxpayer cash into countless eco-brainstorms:
• $570 million dripped into solar-power company Solyndra. Then it went bankrupt. Obama-Biden financed 18 green companies that also died and were buried in the Heritage Foundation’s Green Energy Graveyard.
• $3 billion flowed into Cash for Clunkers. Americans traded their old automobiles for $4,500 each in federal outlays. This was supposed to create jobs in Detroit, as drivers bought new, fuel-efficient U.S. vehicles. While 38.5 percent of this program’s car purchases were domestic, J.D. Power estimated, 61.5 percent were foreign. Cash for Clunkers primarily enriched Japanese and Korean autoworkers.
• $34.7 billion cascaded from Obama-Biden’s Department of Energy into clean-tech companies. They created “nearly 60,000” jobs. Cost per post: $578,333.
Biden also offers what statists truly crave: control. They never are happier than when they can boss Americans around, from dawn to dusk.
“I fought along with President Obama,” Biden said in a video that accompanied his proposal, “for a Clean Power Plan that limited carbon emissions from both existing and new power plants.”
CPP’s reels of red tape were designed to hamstring existing energy suppliers, at injurious economic cost. Using data from Obama-Biden’s Energy Information Agency, I calculated that — between 2015 and 2040 — CPP would have:
• Slashed real GDP by $993 billion, or an annual average of $39.7 billion.
• Sliced real disposable income by $382 billion, or $15.3 billion yearly.
• Chopped manufacturing shipments by $1.13 trillion, or $45.4 billion per annum.
• Whacked 1.7 million manufacturing jobs, or 68,000 pink slips yearly.
And for what benefit?
EPA assumed no Chinese, Indian, or other cheating and forecast that Obama-Biden’s scheme would have shaved expected global warming by 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. That’s like cranking a thermostat from 72 degrees way, way down to 71.98 degrees.
As Americans for Tax Reform reports, Biden also wants an “end-to-end high-speed rail system that will connect the coasts.” Ideally, a Japanese-style U.S. bullet train would zoom at 200 mph. Thus, today’s 2,450-mile, 4.5-hour, nonstop jet ride from Los Angeles to New York would last at least 12.25 hours on Bidentrak. (A 24.5-hour round trip would devour more than one entire transit day.) Why would anyone travel nearly three times more slowly by rail than air — assuming neither stops nor glitches?
Beyond staying in Delaware, Joe Biden’s Earth-friendliest move would be to recycle his Revolution and, instead, promote natural-gas production. Carbophobes should cheer this news: Thanks largely to gas fracking, U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions keep falling — down 13.4 percent from 2005 to 2016 and, BP estimates, another 0.82 percent in 2017, under President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, CO2 output rose 1.8 percent in 2017 across the climate-obsessed European Union. Natural gas cuts CO2 by 42 to 53 percent versus other fossil fuels, generates jobs, and has made America the world’s largest energy producer.1
Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece.
By Jibran Khan • National Review
Numerous jurisdictions are suing energy companies. Not for fraud or white-collar crime, but for the effects of climate change.
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, recently added his city to the list — and also started to divest the city’s pension funds from fossil-fuel companies. But the phenomenon is primarily a California-centric one. In an address at SXSW earlier this month, even Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the fray.
Presumably, this will soon be a cause célèbre. But it is unlikely to succeed, and lawsuits are a poor way to address the environmental harms of energy production anyhow.
As David Bookbinder at the Niskanen Center notes, while all of the complaints are grounded in the energy companies’ alleged accountability for rising sea levels, they fall into two essential categories. Continue reading
Dear Chairmen Kline and Upton:
We write in strong opposition to H.R.5365, the “Muhammad Ali Expansion Act,” legislation introduced by Rep. Markwayne Mullin to regulate mixed martial arts (MMA), which is one of the most popular sports in the U.S. and fastest growing throughout the world. This misguided legislation is yet another unfortunate and unneeded regulatory power grab that will stifle the dynamic innovation and success of MMA. Continue reading
by Michael Bastasch • The Daily Caller
California regulators may force a massive solar thermal power plant in the Mojave Desert to shut down after years of under-producing electricity — not to mention the plant was blinding pilots flying over the area and incinerating birds.
The Ivanpah solar plant could be shut down if state regulators don’t give it more time to meet electricity production promises it made as part of its power purchase agreements with utilities, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ivanpah, which got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, only produced a fraction of the power state regulators expected it would. The plant only generated 45 percent of expected power in 2014 and only 68 percent in 2015, according to government data. Continue reading
by Nicolas Loris • Daily Signal
It may be the most “important” from a top-down, regulatory mandate for high energy prices, but it won’t accomplish much, if anything, in terms of combating climate change.
Even though electricity generation accounts for the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the estimated reduction is minuscule compared to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Climatologists estimate that the administration’s climate regulations will avert less than two hundredths of a degree Celsius by 2100. Continue reading
By William Tucker • RealClearEnergy
When the Green Mountain power company, Vermont’s largest utility, announced earlier this year it will be buying nuclear power from New Hampshire’s Seabrook reactor, many environmentalists felt betrayed.
“This is exactly why we closed Vermont Yankee, because we didn’t want any nuclear power,” they complained. But consumer demands left Green Mountain with no other choice. Nuclear is the ultimate reliable source of power – reactors operate more than 90 percent of the time – and Green Mountain needs back-up in case other sources stop working or if demand exceeds supply on a hot summer day. Vermont is struggling with its desire to be clean and green. The state closed down Vermont Yankee, which provided 600 megawatts of power, when public opinion against it became overwhelming. The state only consumers 1100 megawatts on the hottest day.
Along with the shuttering of the state’s largest generating station came dreams of windmills, solar collectors, and other “clean and green” options that would soon be taking its place. Like many other states and nations, Vermont has assumed that passing laws mandating renewable energy quotas will solve the problem. The state has set a goal for itself of 55 percent renewables by 2017, 75 percent by 2032 and 90 percent by 2050. The figure now is 17 percent. Continue reading
by Marita Noon • Breitbart News Network
Prices at the pump have gone up nearly 40 cents a gallon from the January low—60 cents in California. They will continue to rise while the price of crude oil remains low. Based on explanations, the jump was expected. Every year, at this time, refineries shut down to make adjustments from the “winter blend” to the “summer blend.” It is “refinery maintenance season.”
However this year, the increase is exacerbated. Continue reading
The Keystone XL pipeline is our best bet for a secure energy future.
By Peter Roff • U.S. News
It’s long overdue. The pipeline is a needed addition to the U.S. energy infrastructure that will do much to help America reduce its dependence on energy sources produced in politically volatile regions of the world. In the interim, its construction will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs in vital industries, the kind some politicians like to call “good jobs and good wages.” Continue reading
by Peter Roff • The Hill
Some of solar energy’s more persuasive advocates have some people believing the age of free, homegrown electricity is just around the corner. Of course they had folks believing that in the 1970s, back when Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House and wore a sweater when the weather started to cool.
The basic fact, as true today as it was then, is that solar energy – like many of the so-called green energy alternatives to oil, to coal, to natural gas, and to nuclear power – is too expensive for most consumers to utilize unless accompanied by generous subsidies at just about every level of the process.
Some solar panels are manufactured by companies that have received direct subsidies or loan guarantees from the federal government — and if those companies fail (remember Solyndra) the taxpayers are the ones who make it possible for the investors to recoup the money they put at risk. Continue reading
by Alex B. Berezow • RealClearScience
World events have made it quite clear to most Americans that we should develop more of our own energy sources. Reducing our reliance on foreign oil by exploiting the natural gas under our feet is not only smart foreign policy but also smart environmental policy: Natural gas burns cleaner than coal or oil, and it has already lowered our CO2 emissions. Natural gas is a win for America and the planet.
But not according to anti-technology environmentalists, who have made all sorts of wild, unsubstantiated claims about the supposed harms of fracking. Three claims in particular are worth examining: (1) Fracking causes a dangerous leakage of methane into drinking water; (2) Fracking causes earthquakes; and (3) Fracking chemicals contaminate drinking water. Continue reading
by Terence P. Jeffrey • CNSNews.com
For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Before this June, the highest the average price for a KWH had ever gone was 13.7 cents, the level it hit in June, July, August and September of last year.
The 14.3-cents average price for a KWH recorded this June is about 4.4 percent higher than that previous record.
Typically, the cost of electricity peaks in summer, declines in fall, and hits its lowest point of the year during winter. In each of the first six months of this year, the average price for a KWH hour of electricity has hit a record for that month. In June, it hit the all-time record. Continue reading
People who say they are concerned about climate change use more electricity than those who say the issue is ‘too far away to worry about’, government-commissioned study finds
People who claim to worry about climate change use more electricity than those who do not, a Government study has found.
Those who say they are concerned about the prospect of climate change consume more energy than those who say it is “too far into the future to worry about,” the study commissioned by the Department for Energy and Climate Change found.
That is in part due to age, as people over 65 are more frugal with electricity but much less concerned about global warming. Continue reading
The famous adage that nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes should probably be amended. At least insofar as politics and policy are concerned, there is a third inevitability: lawsuits.
Before they even know the details of a major environmental regulation, affected industries start looking for ways to get it thrown out in court. That’s definitely the case for President Obama’s newly proposed regulation on CO2 emissions from existing power plants. Republican-controlled states will be joining the legal assault too because the power-plant rule, like Obamacare, would impose mandates on state governments. Continue reading