Ed Markey

Post image for Six Reasons Not To Ban Energy Exports*

[* This column is a lightly edited version of my post earlier this week on National Journal’s Energy Experts Blog.]

You know we’re deep into the silly season when ‘progressives’ champion reverse protectionism – banning exports – as a solution to America’s economic woes. Congress should reject proposals to ban exports of petroleum products and natural gas for at least six reasons.

(1) Export bans are confiscatory, a form of legal plunder.

As economist Richard Stroup has often pointed out, property rights achieve their full value only when they are “3-D”: defined, defendable, and divestible (transferable). A total ban on the sale (transfer) of property rights in petroleum products or natural gas would reduce the asset’s value to zero (assuming no black market and no prospect of the ban’s repeal). To the owner, the injury would be the same as outright confiscation. A ban on sales to foreign customers would be similarly injurious, albeit to a lesser degree.

The foregoing is so obvious one is entitled to assume that harming oil and gas companies is the point. I would simply remind ‘progressives’ that the politics of plunder endangers the social compact on which civil government depends. Why should others respect your rights when you seek to deprive them of theirs? Every act of legal pillage is precedent for further abuses of power. Do you really think your team will always hold the reins of power in Washington, DC? [click to continue…]

Post image for Will Markey’s Keystone Export Ban Come Back to Bite Him?

File this one under “be careful what you wish for.” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) must have thought he was being very clever. At a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting on legislation to authorize construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Markey introduced an amendment banning U.S. exports of petroleum products made from Keystone crude.

For Markey, the amendment was never a serious legislative proposal. For one thing, as explained on this site and MasterResource.Org, an export ban would violate U.S. treaty obligations under both the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In addition, Markey knew Republicans could not support the ban without jeopardizing the long-term supply contracts that pipeline builder-operator TransCanada Corp. had negotiated with Gulf Coast refiners — contracts on which the project’s commercial viability depends.

In fact, Markey was counting on Republicans to vote against the ban, as that allegedly would expose them as duplicitous shills who care only about oil industry profits, not about reducing dependence on OPEC or alleviating pain at the pump. As also explained in the previous columns, Markey’s exposé is itself bogus, because (1) Keystone crude would displace OPEC crude whether the associated refined products were sold domestically or overseas, and (2) much of the refined product would likely be sold in the USA.

This just in: What Markey introduced as a rhetorical prop may be sprouting legislative wings in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it could win votes to overturn President Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL. [click to continue…]

Post image for Markey’s Ban on Petroleum Exports Not Legal under Trade Treaties (Updated Feb. 15, 2012)

Earlier this week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up and approved the North America Energy Access Act (H.R. 3548), sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.). The bill authorizes construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the $7 billion shovel-ready project to deliver up to 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude oil to Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries.

Democrats offered five amendments to ‘improve’ (that is, sabotage) the bill. The GOP majority easily defeated the killer amendments, including Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) amendment to ban exports of petroleum products made from Canadian oil shipped via the pipeline. Markey claims consumers would benefit because refiners would be forced to sell more gasoline in U.S. domestic markets, lowering prices.

Earlier on this site, National Journal’s energy blog, and MasterResource.Org, I opined that Markey’s proposal would violate U.S. treaty obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). I also argued that an export ban could backfire. It could drive refining-related investment, production, and jobs out of the USA, increasing pain at the pump by curbing production at home while making higher-priced foreign imports more competitive.

In “Proposed Keystone Export Ban Fraught With Pitfalls,” National Journal reporter Amy Harder quotes two independent experts who offer similar assessments of Markey’s proposal. [click to continue…]

Post image for Rep. Markey’s Keystone ‘Fix’: Would It Increase Oil Imports from Saudi Arabia?

What is fast-becoming the main talking point against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is the claim that greater access to Canadian crude oil would not enhance U.S. energy security.

According to pipeline opponents, most of the petroleum products made from Keystone crude would be exported by Gulf Coast refiners to Europe, South America, and Asia rather than sold in U.S. domestic markets. Thus, opponents contend, Canadian oil coming through the pipeline would displace little if any oil imported from unstable, undemocratic, or unfriendly countries like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) made a media splash with this talking point at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last month. Keystone, he said, would not “back out” any oil we import from the Middle East if it simply turns the USA into a “middle man” for exporting diesel fuel and other finished petroleum products made with Canadian crude. He noted that nothing in TransCanada company’s long-term sales contracts with Gulf Coast refiners ensures that products made from Canadian crude would be sold to U.S. consumers.

Markey challenged TransCanada exec Alex Pourbaix to support legislation prohibiting Gulf Coast refiners from exporting petroleum products refined from Keystone crude. Clever! Pourbaix could not support Markey’s proposal without jeopardizing the sales contracts on which the pipeline project’s commercial viability depends. Yet he could not reject Markey’s proposal without appearing to confirm that Keystone is a plot by TransCanada and Gulf Coast refiners to export more oil overseas. Pourbaix did reject Markey’s proposal, but without explaining why an export ban would be a mischievous ‘solution’ to a non-existent problem. [click to continue…]

Post image for How Absurd Is Regulating Greenhouse Gases through the Clean Air Act?

Pretty darn near the height of absurdity. That’s not just my opinion. It’s a key premise of EPA’s “Tailoring Rule,” which exempts small greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters from regulation under the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program and Title V operating permits program.

As EPA explains in a brief filed last week with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, once the agency’s GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles took effect on January 2, 2011, “major stationary sources” of GHG emissions became “automatically subject” to PSD and Title V permitting requirements. A facility with a potential to emit 250 tons per year (tpy) of a regulated air pollutant is a “major source” under PSD. A facility with a potential to emit 100 tpy is a “major source” under Title V. Whereas only large industrial facilities emit 100-250 tpy of smog- and soot-forming air pollutants, literally millions of small entities — big box stores, apartment and office buildings, hospitals, schools, large houses of worship, Dunkin’ Donut shops – use enough natural gas or oil for heating or cooking to emit 100-250 tpy of carbon dioxide (CO2).

EPA and its state counterparts lack the administrative resources to process millions of PSD and Title V permit applications. Thus, applying the CAA as written to GHGs leads to “absurd results” — an ever-growing backlog of permit applications that would cripple both environmental enforcement and economic development. Massive increases in the budgets and staff of environmental agencies would be required to handle the mountains of paperwork. From EPA’s brief:

EPA studied and considered the breadth and depth of the projected administrative burdens in the Tailoring Rule. There, EPA explained that immediately applying the literal PSD statutory threshold of 100/250 tpy [tons per year] to greenhouse gas emissions, when coupled with the “any increase” trigger for modifications under 42 U.S.C. §§7479, 7411(a)(4), would result in annual PSD permit applications submitted to State and local permitting agencies to increase nationwide from 280 to over 81,000 per year, a 300-fold increase. 75 Fed. Reg. at 31,535-40, 31,554. Following a comprehensive analysis, EPA estimated that these additional PSD permit applications would require State permitting authorities to add 10,000 full-time employees and incur additional costs of $1.5 billion per year just to process these applications, a 130-fold increase in the costs to States of administering the PSD program. Id. at 31,539/3. Sources needing operating permits would jump from 14,700 to 6.1 million as a result of application of Title V to greenhouse gases, a 400-fold increase. When EPA [in an earlier asssessment] assumed a mere 40-fold increase in applications – one-tenth of the actual increase – and no increase in employees to process them, the processing time for Title V permits would jump from 6-10 months to ten years. Hiring the 230,000 full-time employees necessary to produce the 1.4 billion work hours required to address the actual increase in permitting functions would result in an increase in Title V administration costs of $21 billion per year. Id. at 31,535-40, 31,577 [emphasis added].

For perspective, EPA’s budget request for FY 2012 is $8.973 billion. Hiring the 230,000 bureaucrats needed to process Title V applications from GHG emitters under the statutory definition of “major source” would cost more than twice as much as EPA’s total budget.

As expected, EPA fails to draw the obvious conclusion from its own analysis, namely: Regulating GHGs via the CAA leads to absurd results because Congress never designed or intended for the Act to regulate GHGs. [click to continue…]

Post image for H.R. 910: Seizing the Moral High Ground (How to Foil Opponents’ Rhetorical Tricks)

Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, as amended, by 34-19. The bill would stop EPA from ’legislating’ climate policy through the Clean Air Act. All 31 Republicans and three Democrats (Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, and John Barrow of Georgia) voted for the bill.

Opponents introduced several amendments, all of which were defeated.

Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) offered an amendment stating that Congress accepts EPA’s finding that “climate change is unequivocal.” Rep. Diana DeGett (D-Colo.) offered an amendment stating that Congress accepts as “compelling” the scientific evidence that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the “root cause” of climate change. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) offered an amendment stating that Congress accepts EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) offered an amendment limiting H.R. 910′s applicability until the Secretary of Defense certifies that climate change does not threaten U.S. national security interests. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) offered an amendment allowing EPA to issue greenhouse gas regulations that reduce U.S. oil consumption. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) offered an amendment limiting H.R. 910′s applicability until the Centers for Disease Control certify that climate change is not a public health threat. Rep.  Inslee also offered an amendment limiting H.R. 910′s applicability until the National Academy of Sciences certifies the bill would not increase the incidence of asthma in children.

These amendments had no chance of passing, but that was not their purpose. The objective, rather, was to enable opponents to claim later, when the full House debates the bill, that a vote for H.R. 910 is a vote against science, public health, national security, energy security, and children with asthma. This is arrant nonsense, as I will explain below. [click to continue…]

Last Thursday, the House Energy & Power Subcommittee, on a voice vote, approved H.R. 910, the “Energy Tax Prevention Act.” My colleague Myron Ebell blogged about it over the weekend in a post titled Inside the Beltway.

The present post offers additional commentary. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee marks up the legislation today and tomorrow.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) led the charge for the minority, claiming H.R. 910 “rolls back” the Clean Air Act. Wrong. H.R. 910 restores the Clean Air Act (CAA). Congress never intended the CAA to be a framework for greenhouse gas regulation, and never subsequently voted for it to be used as such a framework. The terms “greenhouse gas” and “greenhouse effect” never even occur in the Act, which was enacted in 1970, years before global warming was even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye.  [click to continue…]

Former Vice President Al Gore is the gift that keeps on giving to opponents of global warming alarmism and energy rationing policies. He leads what I think of as the Dream Team: Gore is the public leader; James Hansen is the go-to scientist; Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pushed through a cap-and-trade bill in the House that killed cap-and-trade; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the main promoter in the Senate; when he dropped the ball, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was in charge for awhile; and she has now been replaced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) with help from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

I used to think that we were just incredibly lucky that the alarmist movement was led by this group of second raters.   I now realize that it isn’t luck.  Global warming alarmism attracts incompetents, know-nothings, and looney tunes.

We have missed Al Gore in the debate, but luckily Kerry and Graham were fully up to sinking cap-and-trade in the Senate (not that it had much chance anyway) without any help from the leader of the forces of darkness. So it was good to see that Gore returned this week on a conference call sponsored by Repower America (aka the Alliance for Climate Protection).

Gore on the conference call acknowledged that cap-and-trade was dead and that the alarmists had lost in 2010.  He bitterly blamed the usual suspects: Big Oil, King Coal, right-wing media, and professional deniers (I believe that is where he would put me and CEI).  This is boilerplate nonsense.  Three of the big five oil companies (BP, Shell, and Conoco Phillips) support cap-and-trade, as well as most of the big electric utilities (Duke Energy, P G and E, Exelon, PNM Resources, Entergy, etc.) and many other major corporations, such as General Electric, Dow Chemical, General Motors, and Ford Motor.  Cap-and-trade died when the American people found out that it was a colossal transfer of wealth from them to corporate special interests (see the list in the previous sentence).

Gore even said that our system of government was not working as the founders intended it to work.  In fact, in the debate over cap-and-trade the system of checks and balances in the Constitution is working exactly as the founders intended.  It has prevented an elite from hijacking the economy for its own enrichment.

I can see why Gore is bitter.  His comparatively modest investments in green energy promised to make him a global warming billionaire if cap-and-trade were enacted. Unluckily for him, the American people have said no emphatically.

[This was originally posted on Politico’s Energy Arena here.]