Business groups tell EPA to leave fracking regulation to the states


Radical environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heavily regulate or ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”), the process employed to extract shale oil and natural gas from underground sources, which could undermine a thriving part of the post-recession economy.

The fracking boom has been one of the success stories in an otherwise tepid American economy, which is still trying to recover five years after a deep recession. Just last month Bloomberg Businessweek covered a recent study by IHS CERA that showed the significant economic benefits of fracking.

“In 2012, the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs, added almost $75 billion in federal and state revenues, contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product and lifted household income by more than $1,200,” noted Bloomberg Businessweek. “The competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers from lower fuel prices will raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade, said the report from CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies.”

The Wall Street Journal noted last week that the United States is “overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas,” producing the “equivalent of about 22 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels in July” compared to the 21.8 million barrels produced by our former Cold War foe.

Battling over Keystone XL

Written by Chip Knappenberger, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The Washington Post has an article today on the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline.  There is a sense of urgency on both sides as the decision on the project is expected to be fast approaching.

The Post features arguments from pipeline proponents that the project will provide an economic boost to the state of Nebraska, and from pipeline opponents that the oil carried though it will lead to more carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought, thus upping the impact on global warming and climate change.

But the numbers being tossed about don’t tell the whole story.

First, a look at the new economic claims. An analysis from the Consumer Energy Alliance concludes that during the two year construction phase of the pipeline, the economic activity in Nebraska will increase by a bit more than $400 million per year—generating directly or indirectly, about 5,500 new jobs. Sounds impressive, but this boost is short-lived. After that, for the next 15 years, the economic input drops down to about $67 million/yr, supporting about 300 jobs.  A net positive, but not as much as many proponents claim.

Voters could hand Republicans a Senate majority if Obama rejects Keystone XL

As Democrats struggle to come up with a coherent message on the proposed Keystone XL, voters in five states with potentially competitive Senate race are signaling that President Barack Obama’s decision on the oil pipeline could loom large when they head to the polls this fall.

Vulnerable “Red State” Senate Democrats have been pressuring Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other leaders to hold a vote on Keystone XL, though the measure could be a pointless, nonbinding statement of support from the chamber. Republicans, however, want the measure brought up as an amendment to the Shaheen-Portman energy bill, a nonstarter for Democratic leadership.

Democrats are in one helluva pickle on Keystone XL. On one hand they have their radical environmentalist base and big money donors like Tom Steyer. On the other, they have vulnerable members running for reelection in states in which there is support for the oil pipeline.

But utterly meaningless on statements of support in the Senate or even a binding resolution may not be enough for Democrats running in competitive Senate races. New polling, conducted by Hickman Analytics for Consumer Energy Alliance, finds that Democrats could face problems if President Obama rejects Keystone XL.

Obama’s Keystone XL decision could play a role in Senate races

Energy issues will play a role in four key states that could decide control of the Senate in the 2014 mid-term election, according to a new poll. Specifically, President Barack Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will weigh on voters’ minds.

The poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance, found that more than three-quarters of likely voters in four states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — “said they will consider a candidate’s position on energy issues, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, before deciding whom they will support.”

More than two-thirds of likely voters in these four states support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) support construction of the oil pipeline. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), however, does not.

Whether or not these Senate Democrats support Keystone XL may prove irrelevant depending on what action President Obama takes. The poll found that voters in these four states would be less likely to support a Democratic incumbent if the White House rejects the proposed oil pipeline:

GA Senate: Karen Handel sees outsider status as key to victory

Karen Handel

Karen Handel is hoping that her record as a political outsider willing to shake up the status quo will help propel her to victory in the competitive Republican primary for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The race is interesting because it’s a potential battleground for control of the Senate. Handel is one of eight candidates currently running in the Republican primary. The field also includes three sitting U.S. Congressman, Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston. Whoever wins the primary will likely face Michelle Nunn, a Democrat and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), in November.

Handel served as Fulton County Commission chair from 2003 to 2007. In 2006, she ran successfully for Georgia Secretary of State, a position she held from 2007 until 2009, when she resigned for to run for governor. Though she made it to the runoff, Handel lost to former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) by 2,519 votes.

That may cause some to ask how Handel can claim to be an anti-establishment outsider, after all, she’s served in elected office, statewide office, at that. The answer is pretty simple. Handel made national headlines in January 2012 when Susan G. Komen for the Cure, where she served as vice president, cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

Today in Liberty: Amash wants to avoid debt ceiling theater, anti-NSA bill moves in Arizona

“What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.” — Thomas Sowell

— Conservatives urge Boehner forego “theater” on debt ceiling: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Raul Labrador (R-ID), two of the most conservative members of the House, are urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) avoid political theater and pass a clean debt ceiling rather than delay the inevitable. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it,” said Labrador. Amash was more resigned to the ends of a showdown, saying, “It’s going to end up being clean anyway.”

— Oh, Chris Matthews, you are such a pitiful person: The MSNBC host says that complaining about President Obama’s use of executive power and lawlessness is “second-term birtherism.” Make fun of birthers all you want, we don’t mind. But the constitutional limits on the executive and separation of powers is not something that should be so easily tossed aside. No word on whether Matthews still gets a thrill up his leg when he hears Obama speak.

LA Senate: Reid lends a hand to Landrieu

Mary Landrieu and Harry Reid

With Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) facing a tough bid for reelection, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is hoping that appointing her to the chairmanship of a key committee will give her a boost with Louisiana voters:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will do just about anything to help Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

He arranged the chamber’s floor agenda this week so Landrieu could lead debate on a flood insurance rate reprieve for homeowners in her hurricane-prone state.

He is set to promote her to be chairman of the Senate energy committee, where Landrieu can mind her state’s oil and gas interests.
Why all the fuss? Landrieu, 58, is one of Reid’s most vulnerable incumbents in this year’s midterm elections and he’s using his power to see that every one of them wins in November so Democrats can maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

Landrieu, who raised almost $1.4 million in the last quarter of 2013, will no doubt tout her accent in this committee to prove to Louisiana voters that she’s “indispensable,” which is a line that she has previously used as a justification for her reelection. But voters in the state may not be so easily fooled by what is a clearly a ploy by Reid to keep Senate Democrats in control of the Senate.

Rising energy prices in Germany offers U.S. a preview of what’s to come

President Barack Obama’s ideal clean coal plant is an expensive boondoggle that is causing consumers rates to skyrocket, long before its expected to come online. But this is only highlights one part of this administration’s agenda.

The push away from coal and nuclear energy and the focus on renewable energy in Germany has caused energy rates to rise, causing politicians to worry about the country’s international competitiveness:

The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) said on Friday a new government must move quickly to rein in rising energy costs in order to safeguard the competitiveness of German industry.

Speaking a day after the SPD leadership agreed to enter formal coalition negotiations with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, Gabriel called Germany’s renewable energy law (EEG) an impediment to a successful exit from nuclear power.

“The EEG was a wonderful law when we wanted to support new technologies to make them competitive. Today, in its current form, it is the biggest obstacle for the energy shift,” Gabriel said in a speech at a union event in Hanover.

“We need to ensure that renewable energy is affordable. And we need to put an end to the idea that we can pull out of nuclear and coal simultaneously. This won’t work.”

The exact policies may not necessarily be the same as those being pursued in the United States by the Obama Administration, but the basic point and end goals are almost identical.

Obama’s ideal clean coal plant plagued by cost-overruns, higher energy rates for consumers

Kemper County plant

A power plant in Mississippi that has been touted as an example of new clean coal technology has turned into a financial boondoggle for the Southern Company and ratepayers in the area, according to the Wall Street Journal, and that it could dissuade other power companies from taking similar projects (emphasis added):

Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County plant here, meant to showcase technology for generating clean electricity from low-quality coal, ranks as one of the most-expensive U.S. fossil-fuel projects ever—at $4.7 billion and rising. Mississippi Power’s 186,000 customers, who live in one of the poorest regions of the country, are reeling at double-digit rate increases. And even Mississippi Power’s parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said Kemper shouldn’t be used as a nationwide model.

Meanwhile, the plant hasn’t generated a single kilowatt for customers, and it’s anyone’s guess how well the complex operation will work. The company this month said it would forfeit $133 million in federal tax credits because it won’t finish the project by its May deadline.

One of just three clean-coal plants moving ahead in the U.S., Kemper has been such a calamity for Southern that the power industry and Wall Street analysts say other utilities aren’t likely to take on similar projects, even though the federal government plans to offer financial incentives.

Mary Landrieu fires and misses on issues dear to Louisiana


The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is out with a new ad against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). For those of who grew up during the day of the 8-bit Nintendo, it may bring back some memories.

The ad, which plays off the game Duck Hunt, ran on Wednesday during the season premiere of Duck Dynasty, which is based in Louisiana. It focuses on how Landrieu “keeps firing and missing” on several issues important to the Bayou State — including ObamaCare, job creation, and taxes.

Landrieu, who could be vulnerable next year, voted for ObamaCare in 2010 and has constantly voted against efforts to repeal it, including the most recent vote in March.

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