Keystone XL Pipeline Wins on Capitol Hill Not Enough

The Congressional scoreboard reads 5-2 in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. But few believe the job-creating project to transport oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast is any closer to its needed U.S. approval.

The House passed (293-127) a federal transportation bill Wednesday that will now go to conference committee. A provision in that legislation would force the administration to approve the pipeline.

It is the fourth time the House has given its approval on the project, expected to create thousands of jobs during the construction phase and help increase energy security in the long term. The Senate has taken three votes, passing it once as part of the payroll tax deal late last year and defeating it twice.

Not to be forgotten is the importance of the transportation bill. The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion program two weeks ago. It is expected to be the basis for the conference committee negotiations.

The White House has already threatened to veto the highway bill if the Keystone language remains. Both, however, are critical to funding ongoing infrastructure needs and putting people back to work.

In the upcoming BizVoice magazine (available May 3 in print and online), I’ll have a one-on-one interview with Canadian Consul General Roy Norton, who talks about the importance of this project, the critical Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, and other opportunities between the two North American neighbors.

API: Obama & 72% of Americans Support Offshore Drilling

Offshore drilling has been a key focus in the environmental/energy debate over the past several years, even resurfacing in March when President Obama advocated drilling off the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard issued a statement yesterday touting Obama’s efforts as a step in the right direction, but noted more needs to be done to boost production in the U.S.

By now, you’ve probably heard about President Obama’s recent announcement to consider exploration for oil and natural gas resources in specific offshore areas of the United States. If fully implemented, the president’s new policy could lead to access to much-needed domestic energy resources—a positive step toward generating thousands of good jobs and more than a trillion dollars in critical revenue for our struggling economy. The oil and natural gas industry stands ready to work with the administration to make this a reality. But more needs to be done to fully realize this potential.    

Our industry has a proven ability to develop offshore energy resources safely. We hope that the president will consider opening access to other resource-rich regions off of the Pacific coast and Alaska and in the Eastern Gulf, and expediting the process for exploration and production in all areas.  The Department of Energy projects that our nation will rely upon oil and natural gas for decades to come and we need to go to work producing those resources here at home.   

The majority of Americans agree. A Rasmussen Reports survey, conducted after President Obama’s announcement, shows that voter support for exploration and development of offshore energy resources is at its highest point in the past three years.  In fact, 72 percent of Americans support offshore drilling. In addition, 59 percent also said that drilling should be allowed off the coast of California and New England, two areas that will remain off-limits under the president’s plan.

Trip to the Pump Not Quite as Painful, Still There is Work to be Done

When you have a 17-year-old daughter who must pay for her own gasoline, each time the pump price comes down is a cause for celebration. I even received a call Wednesday afternoon asking if she should fill up (despite still having half a tank) when she saw the $1.98 a gallon price.

For someone burned by far too many of those hard-to-explain Thursday increases, I went out on a limb and said "No, you can wait." Oil prices are supposed to decrease even further and the down economy (reality and fears) that is contributing to the pump relief unfortunately isn’t going to change overnight.

The Heritage Foundation’s Ben Lieberman offers some deeper perspective, warning that Congress must not go back on its easing of drilling restrictions. It also should reduce the red tape and avoid costly oil and gas regulations. Short-term gain will be replaced by long-term pain if we don’t act wisely.

Read Lieberman’s analysis.

BP Whiting Project Moving Forward

Good news for the BP Whiting expansion this week as the Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued the final air permit for the project. The Northwest Indiana Times has more.

"We support the BP Whiting modernization project," says Vince Griffin, Indiana Chamber VP of energy & environmental affairs. "With a $4 billion price tag, the project is not only the largest investment in the state’s history but it preserves a critical piece of Indiana’s economy, promotes a more stable oil source from Canada and does all of this while providing a high level of protection for our environment."