Category Archives: energy

Allison Cunningham Midterm Elections: Energy Industry Implications

With a few days left before the November midterm elections, polls remain down to the wire in many races. As Republicans look to make moderate gains in the House of Representatives and vie for control of the Senate majority we may see people casting votes that reflect low presidential approval ratings and nominal support for the Affordable Care Act. This is nothing new, as voting against the party and policies of an incumbent president is a phenomenon seen in five of the last six post-WWII second-term midterm elections.

While Ebola and threats from ISIL continue to move to the forefront of voters’ minds, a few key races have serious implications for energy legislation in the next Congress.

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, finds himself in one of the closest and most expensive re-election races in the country. In Kentucky, President Obama’s carbon rule hits particularly close to home, with McConnell (R) and opponent Allison Lundergran-Grimes (D) both vying to be seen as the most “coal-friendly” candidate.

In Colorado, Congressman Cory Gardner (R) is running against incumbent Senator Mark Udall (D), in a race featuring several Republican ads focused on energy issues. In an October debate, Gardner and Udall exchanged heated words regarding whether or not a carbon tax was helpful in curbing climate change from man-made emissions. When it comes to regulating oil and gas operations, Gardner has sponsored House bills to increase access to domestic land for oil production and has sponsored a bill to streamline the permitting process for drilling on the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf. Both Gardner and Udall have sponsored bills aimed at to streamlining the permitting processes for liquefied natural gas exports.

Finally, the Senate race with potential to have the biggest impact on the energy industry – the Louisiana Senate race – may not be decided until a month after Election Day. With incumbent and current Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Mary Landrieu (D) facing Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) in a tight race, polling data continues to point to a December 6 runoff, which could be impacted by Southeastern Conference Football, if the Louisiana State University Tigers play in the SEC Championship game on the same day.

Though some key races may drag into December and January, both Republicans and the White House are beginning to brainstorm plans for the next Congress. As House Republicans look to expand their majority, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has begun publicly discussing plans for working with a Republican-controlled Senate, naming energy issues as a top priority. One idea brought forth by McCarthy is the possibility of paying for highway spending through drilling on public lands.

Meanwhile, the White House is beginning to consider what it would look like to work with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. White House aides have mentioned tax reform, infrastructure, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, early childhood education and sentencing reform as areas for a possible collaboration. Senate Republicans claim to be ready to work together on trade, infrastructure spending and sentencing reform.

Let us know below what you think will happen in the elections and what that means for energy policy going forward, and don’t forget to get out and vote on November 4.

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Kathryn Clay Our Focus on Safety Benefits the Environment

This article originally appeared on the SXSW Eco website as a special guest blog post by AGA Vice President of Policy Strategy Kathryn Clay.

SXSW Eco logo Our Focus on Safety Benefits the EnvironmentAccording to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the pipeline network that carries natural gas to more than 177 million Americans is the safest energy delivery system in the nation. Even with the historically excellent performance of our distribution network, safety is our top priority and natural gas utilities remain vigilant and committed to continually upgrading this crucial infrastructure. Natural gas utilities are regulated by state utility commissions which are charged with balancing the need for investments in infrastructure to provide safe and reliable service with ensuring affordable energy bills for customers and fair returns on equity that will attract capital at reasonable costs.

Over the course of the last three decades, natural gas utilities have installed modern plastic pipes at a rate of 30,000 miles per year and installed catholically protected coated steel mains at 1,500 miles per year, both connecting new customers and upgrading existing pipeline infrastructure. Pipes that may no longer be fit for service are being replaced with ones made from more modern materials. This concerted effort by America’s natural gas utilities to upgrade and modernize our nation’s pipeline network to enhance safety has contributed to a declining trend in emissions from natural gas distribution systems.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 19th Annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks released in April 2014, only 0.24 percent of produced natural gas is emitted from the delivery systems operated by local natural gas utilities. In fact, natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems have dropped 22 percent since 1990. Moreover, nearly 90 percent of the emissions declines from distribution systems since that year are due to pipeline replacements.

The effort to modernize infrastructure by replacing pipe no longer fit for service will continue to grow. Of the 38 states that have accelerated infrastructure replacement mechanisms, 9 states and the District of Columbia were approved in the past two years. As those programs ramp up, we will see more investment in enhancing safety and further emissions declines.

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Richard Meyer Natural Gas Market Indicators: Sept. 12, 2014

Total natural gas supply in the United States (domestic production less natural gas liquids extraction and other shrink, plus net imports from Canada and very minor imports of LNG) has been running at about 74-75 Bcf per day in September with total demand (consumption) in the high 50s to low 60s, according to Bentek Energy.

That means that double digit volumes of natural gas have been available for underground storage injections – and that trend has continued for the first half of September. Sustaining that trend could push underground working gas inventories to about 3.5 Tcf to start the winter heating season. With domestic production running 4 Bcf per day higher than this time last year, that adds up to a strong supply position entering the winter.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

Posted in energy, environment, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Market Indicators, weather, winter heating | Leave a comment

Lisa Dundon Monday is National 811 Day – Call Before You Dig

Monday, August 11, marks the Common Ground Alliance (CGA)’s National 811 Day to promote safe digging awareness and the Call Before You Dig campaign. A call to 811, which should be done a few days before beginning construction projects, planting or undertaking any kind of digging activity, connects you to a local One Call Center which gathers information about the project and alerts your local utility company. Crews then locate the utility lines near the planned project and make sure they are properly marked so you can be sure to avoid them. The process is fast, simple and free.811 2color 300x300 Monday is National 811 Day   Call Before You Dig

Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States, though improvement is being made thanks to outreach efforts on the part of natural gas utilities, industry leaders and other stakeholders. This past spring, millions of people were introduced to Call 811 when CGA members sponsored the jockey and horse team of Victor Espinoza and California Chrome during the race for the Triple Crown. Espinoza donned the Call 811 logo on the side and back of his pants, as well as his turtleneck, riding boots and the ball cap he wore before and after each race. Espinoza also spread the important safety message on his official Twitter page and his many TV appearances. The day after the third and final face, the Belmont Stakes, visits to Call811.com were up 334 percent and web search was up 596 percent.

AGA will be helping to spread safe digging awareness on Call 811 Day through social media and blog posts on True Blue Natural Gas.

Find out what might be going on in your area to mark 811 Day by checking in with CGA or your local natural gas utility. And don’t for get to make the 811 Promise and tell your family, friends and neighbors.

If you’re a utility, let us know what you have planned in the comments section below and we may feature your activities in an upcoming post. In the meantime, make sure to urge your customers to make the 811 Promise.

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