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Monday, January 02, 2012

Dear Santa: An Energy Christmas List

Since we're still in the midst of the 12 days of Christmas, take a look at the following letter that went off to Santa earlier.

Dear Santa,

I trust you had a good year. We're kind of stuck here in the U.S. in a still-under-performing economy. But I'm sure you know that, and hopefully you'll be doling out some coal to wrongheaded politicians and their appointees.

Speaking of coal, though, I'd like to look at the positive side of carbon-based energy for a moment, focusing my Christmas List on seeing if you could work some of your magic to somehow get positive changes through the Senate and Obama White House regarding energy policy.

While your sleigh obviously runs on reindeer power, the rest of us rely on oil, natural gas and coal in a big way to run all aspects of our lives, from our homes to transportation to our businesses and jobs. Unfortunately, too many politicians still think they can wave magic wands, wishing away affordable and efficient carbon-based energy, and replacing it with very costly and still unreliable alternative sources.

For example, the House of Representatives passed a number of bills that would help domestic energy production, which would be good news for consumers, small businesses and our overall economy. Could you get the Senate and President Obama to move on any of the following?

• The Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (HR 2273) is a response to costly EPA rules that would limit the safe and beneficial reuse of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) - the byproduct of coal combustion - wipe out jobs, and raise the costs of power production. The bill would accomplish important environmental goals, while not costing jobs and hurting electricity consumers. HR 2273 passed the House 267-144, with 37 Democrats joining 230 Republicans.

• The North American-Made Energy Security Act (HR 1938) requires an expedited decision from the Obama administration on TransCanada's plan to increase the capacity of its Keystone pipeline system to bring more Canadian crude oil to U.S. refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline would expand U.S. access to reliable, affordable energy. The measure passed the House 279-147, with 47 Democrats joining 232 Republicans in support.

• By eliminating permitting and bureaucratic delays, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011 (HR 2021) would expand energy production opportunities off the coast of Alaska. Again, this would be good news for domestic energy production. HR 2021 passed the House 253-166, with 23 Democrats joining 230 Republicans voting in favor.

• The Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act (HR 1229) would require the Secretary of the Interior to decide whether to issue an offshore drilling permit within 30 days after receiving an application for the permit, while also allowing this period to be extended for up to 30 days if the Secretary provided written notice of the delay to the applicant. This would limit bureaucratic delays, and allow U.S. offshore energy production to advance forward. The measure passed 263-163, with 235 Republicans and 28 Democrats voting "yes."

• The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (HR 1230) would expand domestic energy production by requiring the Department of the Interior to auction offshore oil and gas leases in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, and an area off the coast of Virginia. This passed 266-149, with 33 Democrats and 233 Republicans voting in favor.

• Finally, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (HR 910) is a very important measure. As explained on the site, it "would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. More specifically, the bill would prohibit the EPA from regulating: water vapor; carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide; sulfur hexafluoride; hydrofluorocarbons; perfluorocarbons; and any other substance subject to regulation, action or consideration under the Clean Air Act to address climate change. The bill would also repeal a number of EPA rules and actions, including the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases." EPA greenhouse gas regulations pose serious threats to U.S. businesses and our nation's competitiveness. The bill passed the House 255-172, with 236 Republicans and 19 Democrats in support.

Making these measures into law would provide a big boost to U.S. consumers and businesses by eliminating uncertainties, reducing costs, and providing significant opportunities.

By the way, there's been a great deal of bad information circulated by extreme environmentalists, and now the EPA, about hydraulic fracturing. The U.S. has a fantastic opportunity to safely access vast domestic oil and natural gas resources through the use of fracking. But state and local officials must not be misled, and the EPA must not become overly intrusive, if the U.S. is going to boost domestic production, and provide a commensurate boost to jobs and the economy.

Hey, I'm realistic though, and realize this all probably lies beyond even your abilities. But I had to give it a shot. If it's not doable, I sure could use an iPad and new winter coat.

Take care, and give my best to Mrs. Claus, the elves and Rudolph. By the way, what's the source of power for that red nose? Careful that the EPA doesn't investigate.


Ray Keating*

(*A long time member of your "Nice" list.)


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His new book is "Chuck" vs. the Business World: Business Tips on TV.

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