Expanding domestic energy is 2016 priority, US Chamber president says

The US Chamber of Commerce is making domestic energy expansion one of its top 2016 priorities, its president announced. It also intends to fight runaway government regulation, push for more American trade globally, and promote entitlement reform discussions, Thomas J. Donohue said in his 2016 State of American Business address.

“We can and should be developing all kinds of energy and discriminating against none,” Donohue said. “We have untold amounts of American oil and gas, and unleashing the power of our own energy will put our economy on a much stronger footing.”

While prices will inevitably rise and fall, the nation can count on global energy demand to dramatically increase, Donohue said on Jan. 14.

“America now is in the position of supply countries with the energy they need instead of importing it from nations that use their energy as leverage,” he noted. “By responsibly expanding production on federal lands, we can ensure that we have the energy we need to meet the needs of a growing economy, and put folks back to work.”

His remarks came 2 days after US President Barack Obama called for a stronger national effort to develop cleaner energy and move away from fossil fuels in his final State of the Union address (OGJ Online, Jan. 13, 2016).

Donohue said the nation’s largest business organization backs expansion of emissions-free energy sources such as nuclear power and renewable fuels, and efforts to increase energy efficiency. He also called for an end to what he considers a regulatory assault on coal, which he said will be an integral part of the domestic and global energy mix for decades to come.

Addressing climate change

“It’s hard to have a discussion about energy these days without mentioning climate change,” Donohue said. “The Chamber supports reasonable actions to deal with this and all environmental challenges. But the focus ought to be on what has been proven to work.”

As American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard did in his annual State of American Energy address a week earlier (OGJ Online, Jan. 5, 2016), Donohue said that the US was the only country to meet targets established in the United Nations December 1997 Kyoto Climate Change Protocol, even though the US did not sign it.

“How? Through technology, efficiency, alternatives, and the cleaner use of traditional resources,” Donohue said. “Let’s build on what works, and reject unproven schemes that would put politicians in charge of our daily energy use and choices.”

Donohue said the organization’s Litigation Center will be busier than ever in the Obama administration’s final year. “Our law firm already is challenging the so-called Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the US rule, and the administration’s new ozone rule. There will be others.”

Donohue said, “The administration has already put business on notice that it’s going for broke on regulations and executive orders in 2016—Congress and economic growth be damned. In its final year, it plans to issue new or final rules that would restrict legal arbitration, create new and unworkable rules governing overtime pay, further regulate financial advisors, limit methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, and add incredible complexities to our federal procurement process.”

Donohue noted that while the state of the American economy may be risky and uncertain, the nation’s future is bright—if it pursues the right priorities and policies. “In the coming year, we’re going to do everything we possibly can to win the policies that will create jobs, foster growth, and expand opportunity for every American.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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