Energy a key element in US Chamber’s 2014 plans, Donohue says

Advancing and protecting the US energy revolution will be a key part of the US Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 strategy, Pres. Thomas J. Donohue said Jan. 8 in his annual State of American Business address.

“America’s new era of energy abundance gives us an unrivaled opportunity to transform the United States from a nation dependent on imports to a significant energy exporter,” he maintained. “It means we can continue to attract new manufacturing and, over time, trillions of dollars of investments to our country.

“Yet the progress we’ve made so far has come about largely in spite of national policy rather than because of it,” Donohue continued. “We need to thoughtfully open more federal lands onshore and offshore. And we must remove and guard against unnecessary restrictions, delays, and regulations.”

He said there’s no better example than the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, which still awaits a final presidential decision on its cross-border permit more than 5 years after its sponsor, TransCanada Corp., filed the initial application.

“We have idled American workers and deeply offended our most important ally for the sake of domestic politics,” Donohue said. “We are calling on the Obama administration to put American jobs before special interest politics and approve this project now.”

Open more offshore

He said the US has more recoverable oil and gas off its shores than Europe and Asia’s proven oil reserves combined, yet keeps 87% of the federally controlled acreage off-limits. “We have enough recoverable coal to power our economy for more than 200 years,” Donohue said. “We must tap this vital resource—prudently, safely, and vigorously.”

Nuclear energy deserves continued support, as do viable alternative and renewable sources and increased energy efficiency, he added. Donohue said the US Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy would unveil its new “Energy Works for US” initiative, with more than 60 recommendations, in another week.

The Chamber also will push for federal regulatory and permitting reform, including the so-called “Sue and Settle” process in which special interests sue the US Environmental Protection Agency, which settles the allegations to save legal costs without involving other stakeholders, according to Donohue.

“We’re also making the case that government needs to reform the way it writes and enacts new rules and regulations,” he said. “The Chamber is building support for legislation that would modernize the regulatory system, streamline the permitting process, and blunt that abusive practice of ‘Sue and Settle.’”

Pundits say it will be hard to accomplish much during an election year, Donohue conceded. “We hope to turn that assumption on its ear by turning the upcoming elections into a motivator for change,” he said. “It’s based on a simple theory: If you can’t make them see the light, then at least make them feel some heat.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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