WSJ: A Badly Distorted Discourse on U.S. Energy Policy

Five terrific Wall Street Journal letter responses to the Jan. 24 WSJ op-ed by Tom Steyer and John Podesta claiming that “We Don’t Need More Foreign Oil and Gas.”

The “foreign oil and gas” refers to the Keystone XL Pipeline which would bring tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast from Canada.

The letters are below.

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A Badly Distorted Discourse on U.S. Energy Policy

In “We Don’t Need More Foreign Oil and Gas” (op-ed, Jan. 24), Tom Steyer and John Podesta observe that America appears to be at the beginning of a domestic oil and gas boom and imply that the boom has something to do with President Obama’s policies.

Messrs. Steyer and Podesta also carefully keep their focus on natural gas—revolutionized by new recovery techniques in recent years—rather than oil. They talk about the new price competitiveness of natural gas but fail to mention that the cost of a gallon of gasoline has nearly doubled on President Obama’s watch. In fact, part of America’s better balance between energy supply and demand is a result of slow economic growth and rising gasoline prices. Had the economy weakened even more and had gasoline prices tripled, we would be much closer to full energy independence today.

The implied linkage between oil and gas development and President Obama’s clean-energy policies is particularly fanciful. There is no cost-benefit analysis that could justify the administration’s clean-energy investments in “renewables, efficiency, transportation and infrastructure.” Any sector can grow if tens or hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are thrown into the mix. Now Mr. Obama and his green-energy friends hope to receive credit for the wonders of hydraulic fracturing, an energy revolution that occurred in spite of Obama administration antidrilling policies. It is an audacious claim and one that is fundamentally dishonest.

Richard Davis
Fredericksburg, Va.

Our company has extensive experience working with government officials at all levels because we were one of the first developers in the Marcellus Shale to recognize the importance of this exceptional resource. After working closely with regulators for years, our recent experience working with the EPA has been frankly frustrating.

The EPA’s changing posture on sampling water in Dimock, Pa., is an example of the EPA’s inconsistency with scientific process and its lack of cooperation with state and private-sector parties. The EPA has presented no credible evidence for its actions, and its concerns are inconsistent with the findings of state regulators who have concluded after extensive investigation that Dimock drinking water meets regulatory standards. In December, the EPA itself said the water did not present a health threat.

Many in our industry have found the EPA unwilling to engage in meaningful cooperation, not just in Pennsylvania but in other shale-gas production areas in Texas, Wyoming and elsewhere.

We are glad that the president’s supporters are increasingly realizing the significant importance of shale-gas production to job creation and energy security. But the administration must also take responsibility for EPA actions which put jobs in jeopardy.

The EPA should take a more objective approach to shale-gas issues and work with industry and the states to review existing data to establish a firmer basis for agency decision-making. We intend to work cooperatively and constructively with our communities and our regulators. We hope the EPA will do the same.

Dan O. Dinges
Chairman, President & CEO
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.

Houston

Unlike most clean-energy sources (wind and solar) that appear to require massive and perpetual federal and state government subsidies, the increase in natural-gas production and associated job creation is not the result of government leadership, policy or mandates.

John Miller
Scottsdale, Ariz
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Tom Steyer and John Podesta make the false claim that “the U.S. is now producing more than half of our oil domestically.” In fact, according to the most recent Energy Information Agency statistics, available at http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_sum_crdsnd_k_m.htm, in 2011, the U.S. is currently producing oil at a rate of 5.78 million barrels per day, while importing oil at a rate of 9.03 million barrels per day. While there are various ways to measure energy independence, net imported crude oil as a percentage of net crude oil inputs to refineries for 2010 was 62%, according to the EIA.

Robert Zubrin
Golden, Colo.

Americans will never witness a Canadian prime minister pounding a podium and threatening to cut off our oil supply, and for Messrs. Podesta and Steyer to imply that there is something wrong with obtaining oil from Canada does a disservice to both countries.

When we obtain oil from Canada, we are not simply sending money abroad. We are also increasing the amount of money Canada spends in our country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011, for every $1 the U.S. spent on Canadian goods, we got back 89 cents through Canadian spending on U.S. goods. That compares to getting 33 cents from some other oil-producing nations’ spending on U.S. products. The Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day. At $100 a barrel, we could then expect to get almost $74 million a day back from Canada in the goods they buy from us—a spending level that could support 90,000 jobs, according to Commerce Department calculations.

There is nothing smart about turning our back on our trusted neighbor, and neither is there anything smart about saying no to this great economic opportunity.

Jack N. Gerard
President & CEO
American Petroleum Institute
Washington

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