Notes From the Road
Early Sunday Notes from the road: We hope readers have not sensed our skipping a beat in posting northern energy reports, though we are on a two week trip to Texas and Ecuador. Cuenca is known as the 'world retirement capital', though we like it for other reasons and are certainly not retired. We pursue our client work, web page, writing and photo assignments from this location a few weeks a year. When not here, we rent our home (Casa San Sebastian) in the Andes to friends. One of Cuenca's major markets is two blocks away from our downtown loft. Early last week -- while buying mangoes, tomatoes, tomates, lettuce, apples, corn, and lima beans the size of a baby's ears -- we took our favorite vendor's photo. She is Zoila Zhogui (NGP Photo). Yesterday, we had another photo adventure in El Cajas with a free roaming, blue-eyed llama (NGP Photo) overlooking one of myriad mountain lakes at altitudes only a few thousand feed lower than Mount McKinley. After an exhausting but satisfying climb, my friend and driver, Luis Rivadenetra, and I enjoyed the most amazing fresh trout lunch in history at the world famous, Dos Chorreras Restaurant and Resort. Each serving was what appeared to be two trout filets sliced from two 17" beauties netted from the trout pond just for us. It was seasoned with heaven's ingredients, flash fried and served with a wonderful white gravy with light chilies and mushrooms and accompanied by sauted, fresh vegetable shavings and slices of succulent yucca root (NGP Photo-l). Our appetizer had been this potato/squash soup (NGP Photo-r) with Dos Chorreras cheese, ahi sauce and I had fresh squeezed tomate juice (tree tomato). At first I refused the unbelievably light cheese cake but then called the waiter back and agreed to have that with a cup of Loja Ecuadorian espresso since it was included in the meal price. Yes, Luis and I were happy campers! "Happy, happy, happy." -dh
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Mackenzie Valley shale leases sure to pique interest: NWT industry ... iPolitics.ca - The Northwest Territories has had stranded natural gas in the Mackenzie Delta for 40 years, with a proposal to build a pipeline south long dormant....
What Does Colorado Agriculture Have To Do With American Energy Policies?
Last Sunday an audience of regulators learned that Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Colorado's economy, that each US farmer feeds 155 people worldwide and that 97% of US farms are family owned. And, they heard that America's family farms are under siege.
TODAY, we hear from staff that:
"The US House Natural Resources Committee will hold a Full Committee oversight hearing on Thursday, August 1st entitled “Transparency and Sound Science Gone Extinct? The Impacts of the Obama Administration's Closed-Door Settlements on Endangered Species and People.” (See our commentary, left, which partially deals with ESA impact on Agriculture.)
"One criticism of the Endangered Species Act is that some of the data and science used to justify endangered species regulatory actions, such as listings and critical habitat designations, is not publicly available for analysis. This lack of transparency leads to questions about the scientific inadequacy and lack of prioritization of decisions and fails to give the public the right-to-know what means are justifying endangered species ends.
"This situation will be worsened in light of the rushed nature of the so-called mega-settlements, in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to determine the potential listings of over 779 species by 2016. At a time when the federal government’s science is already being questioned because it is not made available, it makes little sense to list more species under a litigation-caused edict.
"This hearing is the second in a series being held by the Committee this Congress on the Endangered Species Act.
"In June, the Committee examined the positive species conservation efforts being undertaken at ‘on-the-ground’ levels when compared to the seemingly never-ending cycle of Endangered Species Act litigation.
"Visit the Committee Calendar for additional information, once it is made available. The meeting is open to the public and a live video stream will be broadcast:
The public utility regulators from throughout the United States and Canada were attending the summer meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). The audience also learned that over-regulation of farming is threatening farm production at a time when a 9-plus billion world population by 2050 will require as much food production over the next 40 years as was consumed in the past 4,000 years combined.
Chad Vorthmann (NGP Photo, above), Executive Vice President of the Colorado Farm Bureau, was addressing the regulators at a Consumer Energy Alliance luncheon briefing.
Vorthmann was born and raised a fourth generation farmer and most of his family is still engaged in farming and ranching.
He said that the growth in demand and technology will provide a "huge opportunity" for Colorado agriculture and farmers everywhere -- if all of the special interests learn to coexist.
However, a recently conducted Colorado Farm Bureau survey reflected member concern that challenges to family farm viability were becoming more and more threatening. "No one ever wanted to become a farmer to do paperwork," Vorthmann said, while noting that modern farming required more and more administrative time and skills.
|See our 2012 report of the California Farm Bureau video featuring Paul Wenger, Bureau President.|
The Colorado Farm Bureau survey revealed a sophisticated understanding by farmers of the challenges they face.
An overwhelming majority of survey respondents believed that the rising cost of energy and other farm necessities was of critical concern.
Well over 90% supported a decrease in regulatory constraints and reform of the Endangered Species Act which now enables the Federal government to significantly reduce agricultural and energy activity on federal as well as state and private lands. (See notice in box, above right.)
Members almost unanimously supported an increase in domestic oil and gas activity and a reduction on Renewable Energy Portfolio mandates which threaten utility and energy costs and availability.
Vorthmann quoted Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's 2012 State of the State address wherein he noted that, "...Colorado agriculture is leading the state out of this recession...."
One left the meeting room convinced that the nation's prosperity is critically dependent on a very free market approach to energy and agriculture as well as commercial fishing, transportation, minerals mining, manufacturing and other American enterprises that have led to such a productive society.
Abundant and low cost energy is the base, the foundation of the economy and our way of life. Without it, all other enterprises composing the American dream begin to weaken under the economic weight of imported energy. Without abundant and low cost energy and the industries it supports, Hickenlooper's 2012 observation could turn into remorse that agriculture, "can no longer lead the way out of future recessions."
The US Constitution embedded power in the individual and permitted the government to have those powers that the people granted it.
We fear that if Americans do not wake up and begin to reclaim their original powers from government, they'll find someday soon that the tattered, remaining powers they do posses are doled out, piecemeal, to them by government, not the other way around.
Energy and agriculture are two industries among many that are the canaries in the coal mine (i.e. Coal is another grand but endangered American specie). Both agriculture and energy are experiencing dreadful burdens and challenges at the hands of government bureaucracies. Both are speaking out more and more loudly.
If we do not hear and act upon the cries of the canaries now, it will not be because they didn't warn us, as Vorthmann did this week.
And, someday when we do recall their silenced lamentations, it could be too late to react.
Today's Consumer Energy Alliance News Links
Bloomberg: Nuclear Closures at Entergy to Exelon Seen on Obama Plan - Nuclear reactors that light New York City and Chicago with carbon-free electricity face possible extinction before they can reap the benefits of President Barack Obama’s proposed climate rules. Entergy Corp. (ETR)’s Indian Point power plant in New York and Exelon Corp. (EXC)’s Clinton facility in Illinois are among nuclear generators that may be shut down from either political or financial pressure on an industry that generates as much as $50 billion in U.S. electricity sales each year.
(Many more follow....)
|Post and Courier: Tim Scott, Mark Sanford wade into offshore drilling debate in South Carolina|
The OCS Governors Coalition, chaired this year by Alaska's Governor, Sean Parnell, sent a letter to Members of Congress last week, urging support for OCS energy exploration and development--and revenue sharing. In addition to Parnell, others signing the letter included: Governor Rick Perry (Tx), Governor Bobby Jindal (La), Governor Phil Bryant (Ms), Governor Robert Bentley (Al), Governor Nikki Haley (SC), Governor Robert McDonnell (Va) and Governor Pat McCrory (NC). See the letter here.
Wall Street Journal, by DANIEL MCGROARTY - Activists are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to take a drastic regulatory step that could have significant repercussions for the U.S. economy. I'm not referring to the Keystone XL pipeline or taxing carbon emissions. At issue is the Pebble Mine—a natural-resource project in Alaska that could yield more copper than has ever been found in one place anywhere in the world.
|Arctic Sounder by Cary Restino. In his keynote address to the Ice-Diminished Arctic Conference in Washington, D.C. (last) week, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell told those gathered to discuss the changing state of Arctic waters that early theories by Bloggers were that talk about the Arctic was happening behind closed doors - that secret plans were being laid out to dominate the region.|
On Wednesday in Washington, the House Natural Resources Committee will conduct a Full Committee Markup on fifteen bills, some of which impact Alaska:
- H.R. 555(Johnson, OH), To amend the Mineral Leasing Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct onshore oil and gas lease sales through Internet-based live lease sales, and for other purposes, “BLM Live Internet Auctions Act.”
- H.R. 586 (Young, AK), To provide for certain improvements to the Denali National Park and Preserve in the State of Alaska, and for other purposes, “Denali National Park Improvement Act.”
- H.R. 638 (Fleming), To amend the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to require that any new national wildlife refuge may not be established except as expressly authorized by statute,“National Wildlife Refuge Review Act of 2013.”
- H.R. 1394 (Tipton), To direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish goals for an all-of-the-above energy production plan strategy on a 4-year basis on all onshore Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service, “Planning for American Energy Act of 2013.
- H.R. 1410 (Franks), To prohibit gaming activities on certain Indian lands in Arizona until the expiration of certain gaming compacts, “Keep the Promise Act 2013.”
- H.R. 1459 (Bishop), To ensure that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 applies to the declaration of national monuments, and for other purposes, “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act.”
- H.R. 1513 (Perry), To revise the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park to include the Gettysburg Train Station and certain land along Plum Run in Cumberland Township, to limit the means by which property within such revised boundaries may be acquired, and for other purposes.
- H.R. 1965 (Lamborn), To streamline and ensure onshore energy permitting, provide for onshore leasing certainty, and give certainty to oil shale development for American energy security, economic development, and job creation, and for other purposes, “PIONEERS Act.”
- H.R. 2197 (Pingree), To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the York River and associated tributaries for study for potential inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System,“York River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2013.”
- H.R. 2337 (Polis) To provide for the conveyance of the Forest Service Lake Hill Administrative Site in Summit County, Colorado, “Lake Hills Administrative Site Affordable Housing Act.”
- H.R. 2640 (Walden), To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to adjust the Crooked River boundary, to provide water certainty for the City of Prineville, Oregon, and for other purposes, “Central Oregon Jobs and Water Security Act.”
- S. 130 (Enzi), A bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain Federal land to the Powell Recreation District in the State of Wyoming, “Powell Shooting Range Land Conveyance Act.”
- S. 157 (Murkowski), A bill to provide for certain improvements to the Denali National Park and Preserve in the State of Alaska, and for other purposes, “Denali National Park Improvement Act.”
- S. 304 (Cochran), A bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey to the State of Mississippi 2 parcels of surplus land within the boundary of the Natchez Trace Parkway, and for other purposes, “Natchez Trace Parkway Land Conveyance Act of 2013.”
- S. 459 (Johnson, SD), A bill to modify the boundary of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in the State of South Dakota, and for other purposes, “Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Boundary Modification Act.”
Visit the Committee Calendar for additional information, once it is made available. The meeting is open to the public and a live video stream will be broadcast athttp://naturalresources.house.gov/live.
Today's Consumer Energy Alliance Links:
Fuel Fix: Wanted: An Honest Dialogue on Shale Gas *Op-Ed by David Holt - According to a recent estimate by the Energy Information Administration, energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is widely believed to contribute to global warming, have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012 and are at their lowest level since 1994. While there is more than one factor contributing to this reduction, it has been reported that U.S. natural gas production has greatly contributed to a dramatic reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions.
Businessweek: WTI Crude Exceeds Brent for First Time in Almost Three Years (1) - West Texas Intermediate crude became more expensive than Brent for the first time in almost three years as pipeline and rail shipments helped clear a bottleneck that reduced the price of the U.S. benchmark.
The Hill: White House climate advisor tells House Dems what's coming - President Obama’s chief climate and energy adviser made the rounds Friday to brief House Democrats on the administration's climate agenda. Heather Zichal had sit-downs with Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources committees, and nine members of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) on Capitol Hill.
E & E News: Deal-making past will serve McCarthy well with controversial issues ahead, lawmakers and interest groups agree - Having made it through a 136-day wait in the Senate -- the longest for any U.S. EPA administrator nominee -- Gina McCarthy has a tough stacked agenda that will include highly controversial climate regulations.
Businessweek: News Summary: DOE says fracking didn't taint water - FRACK FINDINGS: A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process contaminated drinking water at a western Pennsylvania drilling site.
Wall Street Journal: Fracking films reflect twists in drilling debate - The boom in natural gas drilling has cast two opposing documentary filmmakers in unlikely roles. Josh Fox, a liberal environmental activist, finds himself at odds with President Barack Obama. Phelim McAleer, a free-market conservative, is echoing the Democratic president's support for natural gas.
E & E News: NATURAL GAS: Gulf Coast ethane 'crackers' may face air quality hurdles - A cluster of multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant projects proposed for the U.S. Gulf Coast are counted on to absorb a glut of ethane and other natural gas liquids from expanding shale gas production. But some projects may be delayed or blocked by tight air quality restrictions in the Houston-Galveston-Beaumont chemical industry corridor, already burdened by high ozone and other hazardous plant emissions, experts predict.
The Hill: House GOP bill would thwart Interior’s ‘fracking’ regs - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and other GOP lawmakers are pushing legislation to block looming Interior Department regulations that govern the oil-and-gas “fracking” on public lands. The bill is highly unlikely to become law but it signals ongoing GOP political pushback against the rules, which critics say are not needed and will create costly red tape.
Rigzone: South Central Texas Cashes In on Eagle Ford - In south central Texas, the prolific Eagle Ford shale has created an oil and gas boom that is directly affecting San Antonio and the counties that lie in the surrounding area. In just five short years, the Eagle Ford play has progressed at a rapid pace.
Denver Post: Reassuring news on fracking front - Given the controversy over oil and gas drilling in Colorado and its impact on the environment, it's worth highlighting a new federal study that looked at one of the biggest bones of contention: the potential for groundwater contamination through hydraulic fracturing. The study's preliminary verdict is decidedly good news.
San Francisco Chronicle: Demand for frac sand falls in Wis., Minn. - Short-term demand for frac sand in western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota has fallen because there's more available than the industry currently needs. Demand had exploded several years ago, spurring companies to open mines and processing facilities and ship across the country for fracking operations.
Bloomberg: TransCanada Rebuffs EPA’s Call for Keystone Clean Energy - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says TransCanada Corp. (TRP) should be required to buy renewable power to run pumps along the route of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a measure the company said is unworkable and unnecessary.
Fuel Fix: Keystone risk worries U.S. oil sands investors - U.S. investors cut stakes in oil-sands stocks, including Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and Cenovus Energy Inc., as delays to the Keystone XL project and the lack of pipeline capacity depressed Canadian crude prices. U.S. ownership of Calgary-based Suncor, Canada’s largest energy company fell 8.2 percentage points in the past three years while Cenovus saw its U.S. shareholder base fall 5.9 percentage points, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
KOTA Radio 1380: Keystone XL Pipeline Resolution - A revised resolution objecting to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline has been submitted to York County Commissioners. The board is expected to discuss the resolution and vote on it at Tuesday's meeting. On July 9 the board tabled the issue after discussing an earlier submission from a group of residents calling themselves the Good Life Alliance. The new version says: "The York County Board of Commissioners, on behalf of its citizens, realizes the risks of tar sand and crude oil pipelines to our resources in York County and oppose any pipelines of this nature."
ShopFloor: Poll Shows Over Two-Thirds of Americans Support Keystone Pipeline - While the Administration continues to stall on approval of the Keystone pipeline, a new poll released this week shows that more than two-thirds of Americans support building the project. The poll, published by United Technologies and National Journal, found that 67 percent of Americans support construction of the pipeline while only 24 percent oppose the project.
Bismarck Tribune: N.D. ethane will flow north - Approval of the U.S.-Canadian Vantage pipeline, which connects a gas plant near Tioga with petrochemical industries in the Canadian province of Alberta, heralds good news on multiple fronts. Like the much-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, the Vantage crosses the U.S.-Canadian border and, therefore, needed U.S. State Department approval. If Vantage got approval, and it did after just three years, it gives people hope that Keystone XL will be permitted soon.
Argus Leader: Nebraska county objects to Keystone XL oil pipeline - A revised resolution objecting to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline has been submitted to York County Commissioners. The York News-Times says the board is expected to discuss the resolution and vote on it at Tuesday’s meeting. On July 9 the board tabled the issue after discussing an earlier submission from a group of residents calling themselves the Good Life Alliance.
Sioux City Journal: Keystone XL pipeline showdown set for Sept. 27 - A trial date of Sept. 27 has been set for a challenge to the state law that approved the Nebraska portion of the route for the Keystone XL pipeline. Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy set the date Friday after conferring in chambers with attorneys for three landowner plaintiffs and the Nebraska Attorney General’s office.
Contra Costa Times: CARB is again crippling the California trucking industry - Just when it seems California's economy is turning around, the California Air Resources Board has found another way to cripple our fragile recovery. This unelected agency is determined to proceed with enforcing a regulation -- the Low Carbon Fuel Standard -- that could make fuel costs skyrocket and cause severe supply shortages.
Washington Examiner: Showdown in the Arctic: Alaska challenges Obama - Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell sent a letter in May to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell pledging $50 million in state funding for advanced technology 3-D seismic oil exploration -- not drilling -- in the promising coastal plain's "1002 Area" of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area set aside by Congress for the study of its huge oil and gas potential.
Alaska Dispatch: EPA won't stop with Pebble if we allow it to reinterpret the law - Activists are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to take a drastic regulatory step that could have significant repercussions for the U.S. economy. I'm not referring to the Keystone XL pipeline or taxing carbon emissions. At issue is the Pebble Mine -- a natural -- resource project in Alaska that could yield more copper than has ever been found in one place anywhere in the world.
Post and Courier: Tim Scott, Mark Sanford wade into offshore drilling debate in South Carolina - Five years after “Drill, baby, drill!” entered the United States' political lexicon, there's a new push for offshore exploring and drilling, led in part by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott. The South Carolina Republican is working on legislation to give companies a green light to survey the South Atlantic coast for oil and gas deposits — and to tap into them.
BP's Worldwide Statistical Review of Energy
Today, we have the 2013 review and without further editorial comment (i.e. except to note how important domestic energy production is to a country's, state's or province's prosperity), we introduce the review with an email announcement from the company's chief economist, Christof Ruhl, kindly provided by Dawn Patience:
(More here.... You likely read it here first! -dh)
Medicine Hat News by Steve Rennie. OTTAWA – One of Stephen Harper’s former cabinet ministers is urging First Nations to seize the “incredible opportunities” in the energy and natural resource sectors before they get left behind. (Note: see our earlier comment on Aboriginal differences re: fracking. -dh)
Jim Prentice (NGP Photo), who left government to become a top banking executive, said Tuesday that aboriginal peoples in this country now have the chance to cash in on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – but the clock is ticking.
“They will need to seize that opportunity and use the so-called duty-to-consult to really negotiate economic participation in some of the resource projects that are happening across Canada,” he told The Canadian Press.
“These are incredible opportunities. They don’t come along necessarily very often, and so I think there’s a historic opportunity, I think, over the next 25 years for First Nations to benefit from these opportunities if they negotiate to their advantage.”
Prentice delivered the same message Tuesday in Whitehorse at the annual gathering of the Assembly of First Nations.
His words carry considerable weight with many First Nations people. The former aboriginal affairs minister and land-claims negotiator is well-respected for his work on – and approach to – First Nations issues.
You likely read it here first. -dh
On Tuesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory wrote Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, urging Federal support for oil, gas and wind development in the state's adjacent federal waters. We'll provide more on that letter tomorow.
ENERGY IN DEPTH, TODAY'S FRACK LINKS:
Gasland II: Not Truthland. Resources for the Future, Blog. The second round of unabashed and one-sided bashing of the oil and gas industry, and in particular shale gas, played on HBO Tuesday. Gasland II opens with comments from Robert Howarth, a Cornell professor who has questioned the climate benefits of natural gas relative to coal with his own estimates, which wrongly assumed that all methane not accounted for as production was released into the air, rather than being captured or flared.
Natural gas helps Calif. survive heat wave. National Geographic. Yet when temperatures rose over a weeklong period to record highs throughout the Golden State—well above 110⁰F (43.3⁰C) in some places before the wave lifted July 5—the lights stayed on and air conditioners kept humming. How did California do it? It wasn't wizardry, but mundane moves to bolster supply and curb demand—a combination of natural gas, renewable energy, and conservation—that made California more resilient than some forecasters anticipated when the heat rolled in.
Once-Coveted Asian Oil Riches Take Backseat to U.S. Shale. Wall Street Journal. Once captivated by Asia’s untapped oil-and-gas riches, some midsize U.S. energy producers are now selling their Asian assets as the North American shale revolution offers bright prospects closer to home.
Interior Chief Uses Industry Know-How to Defend HF Rules. Bloomberg. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell drew on her experience as a former oil-industry engineer to defend proposed federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on publicly owned land. NOTE:E&E News (sub req’d) also reports.
Top Colo. regulator says fracking critics 'misinformed'. E&E News (sub req’d). Lepore said Tuesday during a panel discussion at the Northern Colorado Energy Summit in Loveland that banning the use of fracking essentially bans gas development, forcing the state to look to other sources such as coal for energy and driving up electricity costs that would be borne in some way by all the state's residents, according to the Coloradoan. Residents who "storm city hall and demand you protect their health, safety and welfare armed with misinformation" aren't considering the impacts to energy costs by banning fracking, Lepore is quoted as saying.
Gas prices could fall by a quarter with shale: Government. The Telegraph. Gas prices could fall by a quarter and help bring down household energy bills if Britain exploits its shale gas reserves, a report commissioned by Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, suggests.
Argentine indigenous people protest against shale. BBC News. Members of the Argentine Mapuche community have protested against a deal struck between Argentina's state-owned energy company YPF and the US firm Chevron to extract shale oil and gas from one on the largest deposits in the world.
UK government over-estimating future fuel prices: Kemp. Reuters. Britain's government is basing its policy recommendations on outdated and unrealistically high projections of future fossil fuel prices - which could be causing it to over-estimate the cost of imports and threatening to skew cost-benefit analyses of alternative policies.
Chevron $1.24 Billion Deal Leads YPF Post-Repsol Shale Hunt. Bloomberg. Chevron Corp. (CVX), the world’s second-biggest oil company, signed the first agreement with Argentina’s government since it nationalized YPF SA (YPF) in 2012 to help develop shale oil and natural gas in Vaca Muerta.
UK Shale Will Help Chemical Producers Compete, Ineos Says. Bloomberg. The U.K.’s shale gas, an untapped resource that has polarized politicians and environmentalists, will help refiners and chemical makers be competitive by cutting costs and curbing imports from rivals, Ineos Group AG said.
No cowing shale. Buenos Aires Herald, Op-Ed. Tuesday’s shale fuel agreement between YPF and Chevron lends itself to more than one interpretation but only the staunchest environmentalist critic of fracking could fail to see the deal as good news.
Australian Millionaire Backs Shale-Owner AJ Lucas. Wall Street Journal. Australia’s Paul Fudge, who is valued at 685 million Australian dollars (US$623 million) according to BRW Magazine’s Rich List, has backed Australian energy-and-mining company AJ Lucas Ltd. , according to a filing.
Water companies warn over water quality. Utility Week. Water companies have issued a stark warning to the shale gas industry that the quality of drinking water "must be protected at all costs" and fracking must not harm public health. The call came from Jim Marshall, policy and business adviser at industry body Water UK.
Potential targets for shale-oil and shale-gas exploration in Arizona. Tucson Citizen. In a previous post, “Shale oil potential of Arizona,” I reported on the Arizona Geological Survey's assessment of the Mancos Shale in the four-corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Behind the HF boom, a sand mining rush. WBEZ News. LaSalle County, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago, has historically been the silica mining capital of the country. Now with the fracking process coming to some of Illinois’ downstate communities, the frac sand issue is grabbing a little more attention, although, as of yet, the downstate prospecting for natural gas wells has little effect on the sand mining industry in the northern part of the state.
Tuscaloosa Marine Shale viability remains in doubt. Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. Feliciana landowners waiting to see if they're sitting on the nation's next hot oilfield play likely will have to wait a little longer, says Gifford Briggs, vice president with the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association. "
Pros and cons of 'fracking' debated in Ottawa County. Michigan Live. More than 200 citizens showed up at a public meeting to hear the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” at Ottawa County’s Fillmore Street Complex on Wednesday, July 17.
Defending the Rule of Law and Constitution Against Federal Overreach
Confidence in American authority is based on a fair, responsible, predictable and not arbitrary exercise of power by three independent branches of government created and defined by the Constitution. The proper exercise of power may be summarized as 'The Rule of Law' as opposed to a less reliable "Rule of Man". Maintaining The Rule of Law depends on the integrity of its defenders. When a governmental branch overreaches its Constitutional authority in its exercise of power it debases the Rule of Law, endangering the independence of the other branches, the government ordained by the Constitution and the freedom of all citizens.
With an admittedly limited academic, regulatory, business and military background we constructed the above description of America's "Rule of Law".
While we have studied the importance of rules to civilizations ranging from Hammurabi's Code of ancient Babylon, to appearance of the Magna Carta 3,000 years later, to America's own evolution we invite readers to provide a more useful, accurate or persuasive understanding of our modern Rule of Law, here. -dh
When we think about it, the consistent application of our society's statutes and rules is critical to America's energy and natural resource industries and those of Canada and the entire free world.
Arbitrary, inconsistent, political, deceitful, emotional or even racially motivated application of duly adopted policy -- no matter how artfully portrayed or well intended -- endangers investor confidence in energy and natural resource development, among many other failings.
Since the entire superstructure of prosperity in the United States and Canada -- as we know it -- is based on energy and natural resource exploration and production, diminished confidence in the Rule of Law threatens energy and natural resource investment along with the prosperity and freedom of citizens.
While Canada has its own challenges with the Rule of Law, today we focus on America's challenge which we believe poses a clear and present danger to survival of the Republic.
The most current example of overreaching federal jurisdiction is arbitrarily favorable treatment which the Administration -- by bold and simple fiat -- is gifting to one influential category of citizens subject to the 'Affordable Care Act', and not to other categories of citizens. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal editorial by David Rivkin and Lee Casey notes that, "By postponing the employer mandate, Obama has given millions of Americans the legal standing to sue."
We would note that Article II, Section 3, of our Constitution makes the President responsible for the enforcement of federal laws: “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” It does not say that, "He shall take care that health, border protection and energy laws may be arbitrarily executed as the he wishes."
One might say of the many federal examples of overreaching jurisdiction: "Let me count the ways".
Examples of federal overreach include but are far from limited to these energy and natural resource related matters:
- restricting human activity in newly deemed "Critical Habitats" for polar bears, beluga whales and steller sea lions whose populations are stable or increasing, not decreasing.
- using a presidential Executive Order to create a new environmental activist bureaucracy to "zone the oceans" around America along with interior waters and lands, further restricting multiple use and increasing consumer prices -- all without Congressional support and while diverting funds from approved priorities to this unapproved initiative.
- using memoranda of understanding between the EPA and Corps of Engineers to impede the due process of project permitting, an end run around regulations and the Congress which significantly delayed and could have entirely stopped critical bridge projects in Alaska, among others.
- using BLM agency planning processes to potentially block petroleum development in America's National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and using the USFWS to deprive the country of oil in a small, congressionally approved oil and gas exploration corner of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
- using the EPA to delay or stop Alaska OCS development on leases sold by the federal government years ago to companies trying to supply America with billions of barrels of oil that could reduce foreign dependence and gasoline prices while injecting hundreds of thousands of jobs into the economy over a 50 year period.
- using the EPA to create a 'watershed assessment' of an imaginary mining project in Alaska whose effect and precedent could be to outlaw natural resource projects on private, state or federal lands after leases have been issued but before development plans or the first permit applications have been filed.
- using the EPA's regulatory power to cut carbon emissions in ways that are widely regarded as usurping Congressional authority while significantly increasing consumer energy costs, creating particularly harmful burdens for poor and elderly consumers and minority communities.
- Using former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (NGP Photo-R) to apply deep water Gulf of Mexico exploration moratoria to Alaska's shallow waters by bald faced fiat without Federal Register or other public notice, without due process and without notifying Alaska's Congressional Delegation or Governor or lessees who paid over $2 billion in good faith to his agency for leases to explore. Meanwhile, as Salazar acted, a former DOI bureau head, Mike Bromwich (NGP Photo), insisted that no actual or de facto moratorium applied to Alaska.
- Congressional end-runs, the most obvious being a multi-year failure to subject federal agencies to Congressional budget oversight committees flowing from the Administration's failure to provide the Congress with an annual budget pursuant to The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (31 U.S.C.A. § 501 et seq.). Congress' failure to produce annual budgets pursuant to the Constitution, contributed to Administration power by enabling the Administration to reallocate funds previously authorized by Congress for the use of some agencies to purposes outside the intent of Congress (i.e. using budgeted resources to support unbudgeted Executive Order dictates, such as the Ocean Policy Task Force).
|Since our goal here is accuracy in objective reporting or in editorial remarks, we urge readers to provide us with any additions/corrections or comments that may further or better educate our readers on these sometimes very complex issues. -dh|
Governor Sean Parnell, to his credit, has already sued the Federal government on multiple occasions based, among other things, on the application of arbitrary and capricious interpretation of Federal statutes and rules.
While some Congressional leaders have become more and more outspoken about the broad and deep instances of the Administration's overreaching accumulation of power and control over citizen behaviors, a strong defense against such overreach is yet to be manifest.
We suggest that great courage will be required of Members of Congress when faced with many bold threats to their area of jurisdiction. On the one hand, they must recall the oath of office that, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States." On the other hand lies the practical consideration of incurring the wrath of certain voting constituencies, certain media barons, certain colleagues and a certain chief executive.
We know that great courage is required of patriotic 'whistle blowers' within federal agencies. We suspect that some public servants are confronted with fiscal abuse and other instances of mismanagement or even destructive, agenda-driven policies that taunt the public interest. We sympathize that the honorable servants so confronted will recall their own oath, memorialized in 5 U.S.C. §3331, “...to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” We know that they face the decision of quietly watching injustice further injure the nation, or summoning great courage for a risky but noble effort to right the wrong.
Even the military, must not be blind to the examples of abuse/excess and/or incompetence so pervasive in the executive office they are bound to obey. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen must recoil in shock when asked to directly and indirectly support certain Administration policies and actions. Many of these self-sacrificing warriors must detest a management that produces events ranging from IRS political targeting of harm against certain innocent citizens ... to lavish and wasteful spending as military budgets are cut ... to decisions to leave Americans in Benghazi to die without available military aid or a determined effort to rescue our own. How strained must be the sentiments of an enlisting or re-enlisting soldier when asked to recite an oath (i.e. that I myself have taken) which on the one hand obligates him to, "...support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..." and on the other hand obligates him to, "...obey the orders of the President of the United States....".
And in fairness to the Chief Executive, how strained must be his own sensibilities? After all, it must be deeply burdensome to him when on the one hand he wishes to follow a political agenda that requires certain displays of executive powers, and on the other hand knows he should adhere to his own oath of office to, "...faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
We pray that during perilous times our current and future leaders will become as courageous as were our Founding Fathers and Mothers. We pray that, ultimately, each will honorably observe his or her oath of office and thereby uphold the Constitution and citizens' confidence in the Rule of Law.
In this way shall the Rule of Law preside over a rejuvenated American prosperity.
In this way, shall America's great experiment in prosperity continue to bless future generations and serve as that shining beacon to our fellow man throughout the world.
Should leaders choose an easier path of appeasement that further erodes the Rule of Law, we wish to not speculate on the dire result and dread that could befall all Americans and, indeed, all the world's citizens.
Here is your important National Ocean Policy Council Monthly Report:
I. Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Announces Public Webinar, Membership Roster
II. U.S. House Of Representatives Passes Two Bills With National Ocean Policy Provisions
III. Great Lakes Boating Magazine Addresses NOP, Calls NOPC “The Voice of Boaters”
IV. Petition Cites NOP As Justification For Protection Of 81 Species Under ESA
V. NRC Report Calls For National Sustainability Policy, Cites NOP As Model
I. Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body Announces Public Webinar, Membership Roster
In an email announcement, the federal, state, and tribal co-leads for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) disclosed that the Mid-Atlantic RPB will hold a public webinar from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 1 to “provide an update about our progress and plans going forward, as well as future opportunities for public input.”
Under the National Ocean Policy, the Mid-Atlantic RPB is tasked with developing a Coastal and Marine Spatial Plan for Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The announcement states that “input during this webinar will help us plan for an inaugural, in-person public meeting in the fall of 2013.” According to the email, since April, the RPB “has been developing operational and administrative processes, as well as identifying opportunities to engage stakeholders throughout the ocean planning process.”
The announcement further notes that the RPB “will implement a transparent regional planning process and we welcome stakeholder collaboration and input,” and concludes by noting that the RPB “look[s] forward to working collaboratively to advance successful ocean planning in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
Additional information about the webinar, including the agenda and log-in details, will be available here in the coming weeks.
The Mid-Atlantic RPB has also released a membership roster. The RPB includes 9 federal members (and 4 federal alternates) representing the following entities:
U.S. Navy (Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff);
U.S. Navy (DOD);
National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA);
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Interior Dept.);
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (Energy Dept.);
Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA);
Maritime Administration (Transportation Dept.);
Environmental Protection Agency; and
U.S. Coast Guard (Homeland Security Dept.)
The RPB also includes 12 state members (2 each from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania), 6 state alternates, 1 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council representative (who also represents Virginia), 1 tribal member, and 1 tribal alternate.
II. U.S. House Of Representatives Passes Two Bills With National Ocean Policy Provisions
In a 227-198 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed H.R. 2609 (Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014), which would provide FY 2014 funding for federal entities including the Department of Energy (DOE) and Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The legislation includes a provision that would prohibit funds appropriated under the bill from being used to implement the National Ocean Policy Executive Order. This provision was incorporated through an amendment offered on the House Floor by Rep. Bill Flores that was agreed to by voice vote shortly before the overall bill was passed.
DOE is a member of the National Ocean Council, and DOE officials have been identified to serve on Regional Planning Bodies tasked with developing Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans for regions including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico. USACE is also involved with Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning and participates in National Ocean Policy initiatives.
On Thursday, in a 216-208 vote the U.S. House of Representatives also passed H.R. 2642 (Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, also known as the “Farm Bill”). This legislation includes a provision in Section 11326 that requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General to submit a report to Congress within 90 days detailing all USDA activities engaged in and resources expended in furtherance of the National Ocean Policy to date, as well as any FY 2014 budget requests that would be used to support National Ocean Policy implementation.
The provision also includes six findings, including the following:
- “Despite repeated Congressional requests, the National Ocean Council, which is charged with overseeing implementation of the policy, has still not provided a complete accounting of Federal activities under the policy and resources expended and allocated in furtherance of implementation of the policy.”
- “The continued economic and budgetary challenges of the United States underscore the necessity for sound, transparent, and practical Federal policies
III. Great Lakes Boating Magazine Addresses NOP, Calls NOPC “The Voice of Boaters”
The August 2013 issue of Great Lakes Boating includes an editorial that addresses the National Ocean Policy and refers to the National Ocean Policy Coalition as “the voice of boaters.”
The editorial notes in particular that the National Ocean Policy “lacks input from the biggest users of the Great Lakes, recreational boaters and sportsfishermen,” and that “[t]he only organization speaking out for these users is the National Ocean Policy Coalition…, of which the Great Lakes Boating Federation is both a member and ardent supporter.”
Among other things, the editorial outlines concerns with the policy’s requirements to establish Regional Planning Bodies, develop a coastal and marine spatial plan for the Great Lakes, and institute ecosystem-based management.
Writing that the policy could have a “serious impact” on Great Lakes recreational activities and that “users want to have a say in how it’s decided,” the editorial states that there are no means of providing advice to the National Ocean Council (NOC) because the only formal advisory body to the NOC (Ocean Research Advisory Panel) does not include Great Lakes representation.
The editorial also says that the National Ocean Policy Final Implementation Plan does not adequately acknowledge the “economic engine” that is generated by Great Lakes recreational boating and fishing activities, and urges recreational boaters to contact federal, state, and local officials and communicate to them that “this new federal effort to manage, ‘protect,’ and zone the Great Lakes region is harmful to Great Lakes recreational interests, and that proceeding forward without them is simply not right or just.”
IV. Petition Cites NOP As Justification For Protection Of 81 Species Under ESA
WildEarth Guardians earlier this week announced the filing of a petition with theNational Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for the protection of 81 “imperiled” marine species and species subpopulations under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement says that the petition is part of an effort to “jumpstart the protection of our oceans.”
WildEarth Guardians states that the IUCN findings represent “the best available science,” and that “[o]ur oceans and the species that call them home are facing unprecedented threats from fishing, ocean acidification, pollution from toxic runoff and dumping of waste at sea.”
The announcement also notes “[r]ecognizing the decline of ocean health,” the National Ocean Policy Executive Order was issued in July 2010 “requiring agencies, including NMFS, to ‘protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean…ecosystems,’ and to ‘use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean.’” The announcement states that the petition “seeks to compel NMFS to live up to this mandate.”
WildEarth Guardians General Council Jay Tuchton said that the Obama Administration “acknowledges our oceans’ health is rapidly declining, even issuing an executive order instructing all agencies to do all they can to protect the ocean.” Tuchton adds that the petition “is an effort to press NMFS to take concrete action in keeping with the President’s direction,” and that if NMFS “won’t take action in situations as dire as those faced by these critically imperiled species, it signals the Agency doesn’t really want to do anything but talk about declining ocean health.”
Of the 81 species proposed for protection, according to information contained in the petition, the following four are known to occur in waters under U.S. jurisdiction, among other places.
In a section on “The Obama Administration’s Policy Of Increasing Protection Of Marine Environments,” the petition discusses findings in the 2010 Census of Marine Life, as well as the National Ocean Policy Executive Order. Statements of note regarding the National Ocean Policy include the following:
- The Secretary of Commerce “is required to abide by the policy set forth in this executive order, namely he or she must ‘protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean…’ and to ‘use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes, and enhance humanity’s capacity to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment’”
- “One clear way for the Secretary to comply with this obligation is to use his or her authority under the ESA to protect marine biodiversity”
- “The dire threats to the health of the oceans and marine species are clearly understood by the President and those threats were included in the policy decisions that led to Executive Order 13,547”
- The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and President Obama through the Executive Order “have recognized the extreme threats to the ocean biodiversity and the need to combat those threats wherever they occur…the need to follow the ‘precautionary approach’ when dealing with threats to the oceans and the need to set a new course for improved stewardship of the ocean”
- The Secretary “should follow this direction from the President by recognizing the weight of the science, listing the petitioned species and subpopulations under the ESA, and thus provide them with the protection that they need in order to stop their slide towards extinction”
V. NRC Report Calls For National Sustainability Policy, Cites NOP As Model
The National Research Council recently released a study on “Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connection and Governance Linkages” that is intended to provide a framework for policymakers and regulators to assess the “consequences, tradeoffs, and synergies of policy issues involving a systems approach to long-term sustainability and decisions on sustainability-oriented programs.”
Among other things, the study recommends the development of a National Sustainability Policy that provides clear guidance to executive agencies on addressing governance linkages on complex sustainability problems and informs national policy on sustainability.
The report specifically states that creating a National Sustainability Policy by Executive Order and incorporating an implementation framework would “substantially enhance the nation’s capacity to address many of the governance challenges” it faces. It also says that it could “significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of complex initiatives involving multiple federal agencies, state, regional, and local governments, and non governmental stakeholders,” and would address environmental, economic, and societal issues and support human well-being.
The report cites several “models” for the development of a National Sustainability Policy, including the National Ocean Policy. According to the report, the National Ocean Policy “speaks to the need for connections similar to those required for sustainability in that it establishes a national framework to address a cross-governance challenge, and then engages stakeholders in regular meetings and other interactions designed to stimulate cooperative action.” It concludes that the National Ocean Policy is a “good model for addressing sustainability linkages.”
An event that will serve as the “launch” for this new report will take place from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm PST on Wednesday, July 24 at the University of California, Davis. The event will also be accessible via webcast. Webcast registration is available here.
National Ocean Policy Coalition Quick Links
National Ocean Policy Coalition Quick Links