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Power Lobbyists Gather, Blame Obama And The Pope

Last week, on the day after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2015 was by far the hottest yr on document, the energy business’s chief lobbyists gathered in a downtown Washington ballroom to tell one another that the true problem was not international warming, but quite efforts by the Obama Administration — and Pope Francis — to comprise international warming.

The remarks of these lobbyists recommended that many of them stay on a different planet, where local weather change is just not an pressing challenge but rather is the obsession of ideological malcontents.

The meeting, held yearly, is sponsored by the United States Vitality Affiliation, whose chieftains aren’t the CEOs of America’s oil, coal, and gasoline companies. Quite, they’re the heads of the Washington-based trade associations that foyer in opposition to regulation of greenhouse gases and toxic pollution. They mostly are former corporate legal professionals or Capital Hill functionaries who worked their manner up and now obtain monumental-for-DC salaries to serve on the beck and call of precise power executives.

I think most of us are grateful to the men and women of America’s vitality corporations for providing the facility that fuels so much of our lives. The query is, now that the evidence of human-made global warming is overwhelming, what do these companies need to do about it Will they continue to deny the dangers of climate change and vilify those that seek to slow it Or can they as an alternative change course and dedicate more of their expertise and resources to improvements for cleaner energy, improvements that could make their companies, not to mention the Earth, more sustainable in the long term

From the phrases of their monochromatic lobbyists, spoken at the rostrum of the State of the Power Industry Discussion board, evidently many within the trade plan to keep preventing for another century of dirty power.

The primary speaker, and the king of the room, based mostly on obsequious interactions during the breaks and on his league-main $14,103,475 annual compensation bundle, was Jack Gerard, CEO of the tax-exempt, non-revenue American Petroleum Institute. Gerard principally looked right down to learn his remarks, however he obtained considerably more engaged when he decried an Obama “political ideology” that “ignores the foundational role of fossil fuels in our trendy society” and attacked “virtually 100 federal rules designed to thwart American energy production.”

Gerard was adopted by Chet Thompson, the brand new President of the American Gasoline & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and formerly a Bush EPA official and, extra recently, a company lawyer at Crowell & Morning. He centered his talk on a recent question from his 10-12 months-outdated: “Are you representing the good guys “

Perhaps his 10-12 months-previous had picked up some things on the playground. However for Thompson, the answer was unequivocally: Sure! “AFPM’s members,” he mentioned, “make the world a better place.”

Thompson then told the room, if not his child, who the unhealthy guys are. The Obama Clean Energy Plan, Thompson stated, “units a nasty precedent for everyone on this room.” The energy trade, he added, has “needed to take on, dare I say, the Pope and lots of different folks waging a conflict on fossil fuels.”

Thompson supplied some excellent news, for him no less than, via Powerpoint. Regardless of the declining value of oil, the “crack unfold” — product value minus crude price — stays “robust” at $17 a barrel. The US is now “one of the affordable nations for petrochemical manufacturing.” And, after all, Congress gave the industry a huge Christmas present by lifting the long-standing ban on oil exports.

However that wasn’t nearly sufficient for Thompson, who, like Jack Gerard, known as on Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, an anti-international warming measure that requires gasoline and diesel suppliers to supply a minimum volume of renewable fuels.

Thompson added that President Obama, in his State of the Union deal with, touted the improved financial system however did not say that the restoration was “driven by the energy sector.” So, Thompson concluded, “Yes, we’re the good guys, and i hope our policymakers remember this after they debate climate change within the months forward.”

Subsequent up was Dave McCurdy, head of the American Gasoline Association (wage: $2,199,451). The former congressman from Oklahoma went for self-inflating humor: When he brings his tall, big-grey-haired presence to China, folks shout at him, “Invoice Cwinton! Bill Cwinton!” He didn’t mention how his house state has lately seen an enormous increase in earthquakes which have coincided with gas fracking operations and the deposit of oil and gasoline wastewater in the ground.

Instead, McCurdy opined that the Obama Administration’s rules — of the type which may make Oklahoma shake less — aren’t all the time “science-primarily based.”

Dena Wiggins, CEO of the Pure Fuel Provide Association, did not categorical the identical hostility to the Obama Clean Energy Plan; she said that gasoline “has the flexibility to flourish” below the new regulation.

She also mentioned that, after some holdups, the lengthy-awaited first cargo of exported U.S. liquid pure gas would head overseas in the following few weeks — greenlighted by the Obama Administration after many visits from Democratic lobbyists.

But as Wiggins celebrated this transformation of the U.S. into an vitality colony — communities fracked to sell gas overseas — she criticized efforts by the Administration to regulate methane, the main part of pure fuel and a toxic, extremely flammable substance that is not less than 25 times extra powerful as a greenhouse fuel than carbon dioxide. A disastrous methane leak from a pure gasoline storage properly near Los Angeles has pressured hundreds of individuals from their homes and highlighted the lack of effective rules for this danger. Yet Wiggins prompt that voluntary reforms by business were all that was wanted.

For Wiggins, it seemed, the danger was not escaped methane but free speech. She offered a PowerPoint slide asserting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Fee “Faces Unprecedented Environmental Activism” and displaying protestors. She spoke of “folks protesting, disrupting meetings, lying on the bottom.” She made it sound terrible.

Wiggins mentioned that some critics “are in the ‘nope’ category” — even costly vitality lobbyists and public relations firms can’t persuade them. However, for folks in communities with reputable questions, “I believe we’ve received good solutions.” Wiggins was confident that trade “schooling efforts” might explain that fuel “really is a precious resource, and we will not allow it to just sit in the ground.”

Donald Santa (compensation: $2,295,419), CEO of Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which lobbies for the pipeline business, decried “lots of opposition to pipelines at this time each by land owners and by people whose motivations are ideological.” He noted that after the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, his board of directors set an admirable objective — zero incidents. He additionally predicted that 2016 can be “an incredible year for pipeline building.”

Tom Kuhn, President of the Edison Electric Institute (compensation $three,607,927), which represents personal electric corporations, did say, “I see us main the best way in turning into cleaner,” however he additionally referred to “clean coal,” suggesting he may need a low threshold for what constitutes “cleaner.”

Kuhn said he drives an electric vehicle, which, he argued, was superior in a snowstorm, like the one which was about to pound the East Coast. If he’s proper, other CEOs may need to look into these automobiles, as a result of new research suggests that climate change is making East Coast blizzards extra extreme.

Marv Fertel, CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute (compensation $3,761,026), stated that nuclear power was being “squeezed by gas and renewables.” He promised to take up together with his group a query about overseas financing that was posed by an viewers member, Marsha Freeman of Govt Intelligence Assessment. If Fertel was aware that Freeman’s publication was based by the bizarre convicted felon Lyndon LaRouche, he didn’t let on.

Hal Quinn, one more lawyer and the CEO of the National Mining Association (compensation $1,531,118) mentioned that 2015 was the safest yr within the mining business’s historical past. That was good to hear within the wake of the latest criminal conviction in West Virginia of former Massey Power CEO Donald Blankenship, beneath whose leadership 29 employees died in a 2010 incident.

Quinn attributed the recent bankruptcies of U.S. coal companies, including Alpha Natural Assets, to those businesses overpaying to acquire other corporations when the market was increased, and then taking on a lot debt.

But he additionally blamed, in fact, Obama, whose policies, he stated, posed “existential dangers” to his business. He said that the Administration’s simply-announced moratorium on new leases for coal mining on federal lands was based on “fiction peddling.” He insisted that the present lease program already accounts for the societal costs of carbon emissions from coal and that coal corporations were paying above-market rates for the leases.

Quinn additionally complained concerning the EPA’s rule to restrict emissions of mercury and different toxic pollutants from coal plants. The Supreme Courtroom, by a 5-4 vote, knocked down that regulation last summer season, which has forced the agency to scramble to formulate a new cost-benefit analysis to justify its action. However Quinn said that the Supreme Courtroom’s nullification of the rule came too late; the harm to the business was already executed.

Nonetheless, Quinn predicted that demand for coal would rise in 2017.
When Quinn finished, a reporter rose to ask a query, which she prefaced by informing Quinn, and the room, of breaking news: The U.S. Courtroom of Appeals had just declined to remain Obama’s Clean Power Plan, pending last evaluate. The trade had employed scores of attorneys to argue for that keep. The room acquired a bit of sadder, and Quinn hemmed and hawed for a bit.

The ballroom crowd, seating at spherical tables, began to thin out because the unhealthy legal news sunk in, oil and gas stocks the afternoon dragged on, and the three lowest-paid CEOs concluded this system. Even a promised submit-event cocktail hour couldn’t stop the exodus.

Dan Dolan, President of the brand new England Power Generators Association (a bargain $257,082 wage), mentioned the Obama Clean Power Plan “is an entire non-event in New England” because carbon mandates imposed by some New England states go nicely past what the EPA is requiring.

Yet another lawyer / CEO, Sue Kelly of the American Public Power Affiliation ($384,314) introduced a busy Powerpoint slide filled with federal regulatory oil and gas stocks points that concerned her, including, again, the dreaded Clean Energy Plan.

Finally, when it appeared as if all of the power had been sapped out of the room, Rhone Resch ($627,348), CEO of the Solar Power Industries Affiliation, bounded as much as the rostrum. In distinction to the somewhat hunched and lethargic males who make up much of the fossil foyer CEO inhabitants, Rhone Resch was tall and ramrod straight in a pressed suit, with the hair, face, and voice of an actor. Possibly he was our energy future.

Resch then reported that solar vitality has simply reached 1% of total Petroleum Display U.S. power generation – up from .1 % 5 years in the past.

That announcement appeared to make little impression on the viewers. However all sorts of realizing looks and whispers had been exchanged on the event’s conclusion when the pinnacle of the U.S. Power Association announced that D.C.’s subway system would be shutting down for the impending huge snowstorm.

It appeared as if the gang was generally unimpressed with Washington’s public transportation system. However I do not assume it anxious the power foyer CEOs. Based mostly on the views they expressed, they doubtless have cars and SUVs waiting for them.

On the subject of moving towards clean energy insurance policies, the U.S. still has quite a bit to beat.
This article additionally seems on Republic Report.

Correction: This article initially acknowledged that Dave McCurdy of the American Gas Affiliation criticized EPA guidelines. In fact, McCurdy was discussing the Division of Vitality’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Furnaces, not an EPA regulation. I remorse the error.