Institute for 21st Century Energy launches new campaign

The US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy launched a new advocacy platform, Energy Works for US, aimed at convincing the Obama administration and Congress to adopt policies that reflect the dramatically improved US energy outlook.

“Some things have changed—tectonically—since 2008 when we released our Blueprint for Security America’s Energy Future,” Institute Pres. Karen R. Harbert said during an event at the US Chamber’s headquarters unveiling the strategy. “Others have not. We still stand ready to work with the administration and Congress on these issues and opportunities.”

Energy Works for US consists of 64 specific, actionable recommendations in nine key areas. The plan will form the basis for the Chamber’s energy advocacy across the country in 2014 and beyond, US Chamber Pres. Thomas J. Donohue said.

“If our national leaders follow even some of our recommendations, billions of dollars will flow into our economy,” he said. “It’s an election year, so we’ll hold them responsible. We’ll lean on people who need to be leaned on.”

Removing barriers to increased domestic oil and gas production and fuel manufacturing is the first of the nine planks. Others include modernizing the permitting process for energy infrastructure projects, and reforming the federal regulatory process so it is more balanced, predictable, and transparent.

‘Broadly shared’

“What is different today in US oil and gas is that it’s broadly shared across the country—in 30 states—instead of being concentrated in fewer than 10,” said Harbert. “The oil and gas supply chain today is in all 50 states. It’s the fastest growing industry in the US today. Jobs in it have grown 38.6% since 2007, compared to 2.3% for all nonfarm businesses.”

She said the campaign calls for substantially revising the federal Renewable Fuel Standard because it was enacted when crude oil and product imports were climbing, and demand was rising. “[The US Environmental Protection Agency] can’t mandate fuels that don’t even exist yet, and should back away from those which clearly are creating problems,” she said.

Regulatory processes also need to be reformed, Harbert said, adding, “We need better, not more, regulations.” EPA and other agencies need to do cumulative, not individual, cost analyses, and back them up with sound scientific processes that it is willing to explain, she said.

“We’ve long been worried about imported oil,” she said. “I think possibly not having a competitive energy workforce is a bigger problem now.”

Asked if the Institute plans to make increasing US crude oil exports a priority, Harbert said the idea is consistent with the US Chamber’s support of free trade and open markets. “But I think it’s necessary to pursue all the proposed reforms,” she continued. “It would be a mistake, for instance, to export large amounts of domestic crude without getting more access to up more federal onshore land and offshore acreage for oil and gas exploration.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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