API official lists policy areas for upcoming confirmation hearings

US senators considering nominees to lead the US Departments of the Interior and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency should ask about ways policies can be improved to create jobs, benefit consumers, and improve the general economy and domestic energy security, an American Petroleum Institute official said days before scheduled hearings.

“Federal regulatory policy can either strengthen or weaken the US energy resurgence, with impacts that extend far beyond our sector,” API Executive Vice-Pres. Martin J. Durbin said on Jan. 13.

“The right policies can unleash the potential of oil and gas production and refining to create jobs, grow the economy, reduce consumer costs, advance environmental stewardship, and strengthen national security,” he said. “These five pillars should guide consideration of the nominees, and the energy-policy discussion.”

Durbin said progress could begin at DOI with a commitment to expand, not reduce, oil and gas industry access to natural resources on federally managed acreage. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a Jan. 17 hearing on US Rep. Ryan Zinke’s (R-Mont.) nomination to be DOI secretary.

“Responsible energy exploration—starting with seismic surveying—is essential to supply affordable energy at home and further strengthen US influence in the global energy market while creating jobs,” Durbin said. “National security is also at stake, particularly in the Arctic, where Russia and China are already active. Military leaders warn that diminished US presence means diminished influence in this geopolitically strategic region.”

A focus on national security and job creation should also guide the approach to exports of LNG at DOE, he said. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a Jan. 19 hearing on former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s nomination to be DOE secretary.

Cites LNG export benefits

Durbin said LNG exports could contribute as many as 452,000 jobs nationwide by 2035—without compromising domestic affordability—while enhancing security for European allies seeking to break their dependence on less-reliable suppliers. “LNG exports can also help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions the same way clean-burning natural gas has reduced emissions stateside,” he added.

Durbin, who also is API’s chief strategy officer, said greater recognition, and understanding, of US success in reducing GHG emissions is a must at EPA, where Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt has been selected to be administrator. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a Jan. 18 hearing on his nomination.

“Carbon emissions in the power sector are at 25-year lows due to greater use of clean-burning natural gas,” Durbin said. “Ozone levels and energy-related methane emissions have also declined. Cleaner gasoline and diesel fuels produced by America’s world-class refineries, in combination with more fuel-efficient vehicles, have contributed to a 70% reduction in US air pollutants since 1970, even as vehicle miles travelled have increased by more than 180%.

“In every case, market forces, technological innovations and strong industry standards are leading the way,” he said. “Our concern is that recent proposals ignore this market-based progress and sometimes the agency’s own science in favor of top-down government mandates that threaten to undermine US energy production and raise consumer costs.”

A smarter regulatory approach based on commonsense, science-based solutions and collaboration can build on the oil and gas industry’s success without sacrificing jobs or jeopardizing economic, environmental, and energy security benefits, Durbin said.

“The US energy renaissance has demonstrated that it’s not only possible to balance economic growth and energy security with environmental stewardship, it should be the focus of federal regulatory policy,” he said. “We stand ready to work with Congress and the new administration to continue meeting America’s energy needs and expanding global energy and environmental leadership.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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