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Lifting the oil export ban was a terrible thing to do

by Dan Burns on December 22, 2015 · 3 comments

Oil-Fields-19a-Belridge-California-USA-2003Reprehensible.
 

“This will certainly lead to more drilling,” Radha Adhar, a federal policy representative for the Sierra Club, told ThinkProgress. Oil Change International, an anti-fossil-fuel group, estimated that lifting the ban will result in 476,000 more barrels per day by 2020. The American Petroleum Institute (API), which is pushing for a lift to the ban, came up with 500,000. In a political landscape where different interests can come up with very different estimates, it is telling that the two groups converged closely.
 
According to a report from the Center for American Progress, repealing the ban would result in an additional 515 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year — roughly equal to 108 million more passenger cars or 135 coal-fired power plants. The increase in extraction — primarily expected to come from fracking — will be accompanied by an increase in transportation from the oil fields to the coast, which means more pipelines and more oil trains, which pose additional environmental threats.
 
And the increased production won’t make the United States any more energy independent. In fact, American oil refineries are expected to take a hit, as much of the oil will be shipped overseas. Overseas refineries are cheaper — and less-regulated — than American ones. Rory Houseman, a spokesman for United Steelworkers, told ThinkProgress that domestic refineries need the export ban to stay competitive while still complying with clear air regulations. “One of the reasons they have been able to afford [clean air regulations] is the oil export ban,” Houseman said in October.
(Think Progress)

It’s unlikely that this will mean a significant bump in gas prices in the short term. The thing is, world demand for oil won’t perk up much until the world economy improves. And that won’t happen until all of this “austerity” crap ends. And that’s not likely to happen soon, because where conservatives are in charge they are inevitably too g*d-damned pathetically gutless to ever admit that they’re wrong.
 
But for the environment, and regarding the continued political empowerment of Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, this is beyond awful. Yes, some good things were obtained in return, like restoring the Land and Water Conservation Fund (for three years), and a big win for solar and wind. But you have to question why this was chosen as the “blue” bargaining chip. It’s the GOP that had its back to the wall, as a government shutdown would have killed them for the next election.
 
Here in the U.S., we have Big Coal on the ropes, and we were headed that way with Big Oil. This is a huge step backward.
 
Comment below fold.
 

Comments
 
From Mac Hall: Remember when Republicans proclaimed the necessity of the Keystone pipeline ? Ya know, moving Canadian sludge through the US for export overseas …. and all the jobs it would create.
 
Well, according to Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) exporting oil is “much bigger than the pipeline”.
 
Let us remember that the House approved this export legislation (HR 702) with twenty-six Democrats in support (I will let you guess how Collin Peterson voted but you probably already know the answer).
The bill did prompt some concern for the American taxpayers who fund protecting the shipping vessels … as The Heritage Foundation lamented over the “cronyist demands” of international shipping companies :
“Washington isn’t broken. It is a well-oiled machine that works for the well-connected and responds to the well-heeled. This corrupt nexus of favoritism and cronyism tends to leave hardworking Americans behind. If House Republicans want to change that perception, they should strip the $500 million provision from an otherwise commendable bill and redirect that money toward deficit reduction.”
 
Considering that in order to pay-off the transportation bill (which was approved earlier in December), the government will sell off some 66 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), America will be selling into a lower priced market AND now exporting more to keep the price low.
 
Gotta disagree with you regarding solar and wind being a winner. When I read the bill (remember the 2009 page bill had a House amendment where the medical device tax suspension was part of another 233 pages), I was disappointed that they agreed to phase out the tax credit. Today’s 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit goes to 26% through 2019 to 22% through 2021 to 10% for projects started by 2022 and completed by the end of 2024. The wind PTC continues until 2020 and is also phased down.
 
Oh, and since you mentioned coal, the legislation did help out one segment of the industry. Although, HR1522 Indian Coal Production Tax Credit never got a hearing, it was buried as an amendment (page 88 of the House amendment). Not familiar with the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit ? ? ? Well, with an estimated 9 billion tons of coal reserves on the Crow reservation in southern Montana (one of the largest such reserves in the U.S.), under a lease with the Crow tribe, Westmoreland Resources Inc. owns and operates the Absaloka Mine, they certainly know all about the Indian Coal PTC.
 
Yep, looking at the omnibus bill with all its special interests being pleased, ya gotta agree with The Heritage Foundation statement “Washington isn’t broken. It is a well-oiled machine that works for the well-connected and responds to the well-heeled.”
 
From Mac Hall: Did you see that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) unanimously approved a new solar net metering policy that decreases the rate paid to rooftop solar customers for the power they export to the grid from the retail rate of the electricity to the wholesale rate ?
The change would retroactively apply to all solar customers.
 
Yeah, retroactive.
 
Nevada’s solar market has grown quickly in recent years, setting off a fierce debate between the state’s major utility NV Energy and solar advocates — companies like SolarCity and Sunrun.
 
SolarCity and Sunrun install panels on homeowners’ roofs at no cost, and then charging a monthly leasing fee that is typically lower than residents’ monthly utility bill. But those energy cost savings will disappear after the state commission decided to cut the payment to homeowners by 75 percent, from the retail power price to the wholesale level. NV Energy can also charge rooftop solar owners a fee for allowing them to sell power to the grid.
 
So who wins in this decision ?
 
Well, it’s a classic case to “rich” versus “poor”.
 
“Folks who have rooftop solar tend to be wealthier homeowners, so you have a situation where the poor and middle class are paying for the wealthy to have solar power,” American Energy Alliance spokesman Chris Warren said.
The American Energy Alliance is a Koch-funded group that opposes these kinds of “net metering” programs advocated by solar companies.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive had a different view, “It will destroy the rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine…There is so much wrong with the decision. The one beneficiary of this decision would be NV Energy, whose monopoly will have been protected.”
Sunrun also blasted the Public Utility Commission, saying it “ignored months of public input and over 30,000 public comments and voted in favor of solar fees.”
They have said the decision will most likely prompt them to stop operating in the state.
 
The Alliance for Solar Choice planned to file a lawsuit challenging Tuesday’s PUC action.
 
In light of the Nevada’s PUC decision, let’s state the obvious — “Nevada is a well-oiled machine that works for the well-connected and responds to the well-heeled.”
 
From Dan Burns: I saw it. cf. Sen. Reid furious rooftop solar got screwed in Nevada thanks to Kochs.
 

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