The North American-Made Energy Security Act would direct the President to expedite the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sketching out a regulatory blueprint designed to control pollution levels from coal-fired power plants, and lying under the torrent of new regulations will be mercury, smog, water intake, coal ash, and greenhouse gases.

Over the next 18 months, the EPA will put forth efforts to curb mercury emissions, place limits on smog-forming compounds like sulfur-dioxide, enact new rules for coal-ash waste, and implement new standards to contain greenhouse-gas emissions from oil refineries and power plants. "This year is going to be critical for paving a pathway for reducing carbon-dioxide pollution because of those EPA rules," suggested Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress. "Assuming, that is, they’re not stopped."

Industry leaders and congressional members note that the EPA’s new regulations will mount a heavy toll on the coal industry, because they will force coal-fired power plants to install costly new renovations — or, in many cases, shut down altogether.

Michele Bachmann Friday defended her campaign promise made earlier in the week that the price of gasoline will drop back down below $2 a gallon when she is in the White House. The Minnesota congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate pledged to utilize the nation's vast, untapped resources to bring down high energy prices and "create millions of high-paying jobs instantly."

In an interview on America's Morning News radio program, Bachmann said that President Obama's policies have blocked development of America's energy resources and left the country increasingly dependent on foreign oil

"What Barack Obama has done is lock up America's energy reserves," Bachmann said. "We're the No. 1 energy-resource-rich nation in the world. We have more oil in three Western states in the form of shale oil than all the oil in Saudi Arabia. That doesn't include the Bakken oil field in North Dakota or the eastern Gulf region or the Atlantic or the Pacific or ANWAR or the Arctic region."

With the President’s announcement of higher mileage requirements — to 54.5 mpg on new cars and trucks sold in the United States by the year 2025 — came the usual promises of less dependence upon foreign oil and reduced “greenhouse gas” emissions. Said the White House blog, “Taken together, the standards established under this Administration span Model Years 2011-2015. They will save consumers money, reduce our dependence on oil, and protect the environment.”

Thanks to the standards, consumers will save an estimated $1.7 trillion dollars in real fuel costs of the life of their vehicles.

By 2025, the standards are projected to save families an estimated $8,200 in fuel savings [sic] over the lifetime of a new vehicle, [compared to] the Model Year 2010.

We will need to use less oil. [The standards] will reduce oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day.

Despite its less-than-stellar record of picking winning solar energy companies — subsidizing, for instance, Solyndra of California and Evergreen Solar of Massachusetts — the Obama administration is determined to continue the practice of unconstitutionally financing these boondoggles. This time, however, it is doing so in a more roundabout way via the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), which is making $575 million in taxpayer-guaranteed loans to companies in India to purchase solar modules from U.S. firms.

According to CNSNews.com, the Ex-Im Bank has already loaned $75 million for four solar projects in India this year, and the bank says it “has about $500 million of India solar projects in the pipeline that will generate an estimated 315 [megawatts] of solar power.” Among the projects already receiving loans are two five-megawatt solar photovoltaic plants in Rajasthan, for which the Ex-Im Bank is providing a total of $25.2 million in financing to purchase thin-film solar modules from First Solar, Inc., of Tempe, Arizona, and Abound Solar, Inc., of Loveland, Colorado.

The recent attempt to terminate both the ethanol subsidies of $.45 a gallon and the $.54-per-gallon import tariff on Brazilian sugar-based ethanol by the Senate failed because it was an amendment attached to a bill that was doomed to failure anyway. Both will cease on December 31 automatically, ending 33 years of subsidizing the ethanol industry; however, food prices are likely to stay high anyway. The main reason is neither the subsidy nor the tariff, but the mandate by the government requiring gasoline refiners to continue to increase their usage of ethanol when blending their gasoline products. Under the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard, the United States is required to use 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol this year, increasing to 15 billion in 2015, and 36 billion gallons by the year 2022.

There is no resolution yet on a proposed $7 billion Canadian-U.S. oil pipeline, as President Obama has continued to delay his decision on whether to approve it. Before the construction and operation of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline expansion can progress, the President, through the U.S. State Department’s permitting process, must grant final approval — an approval which has been in political limbo for the past three years.

In a bill passed in July by the U.S. House of Representatives, the North American-Made Energy Security Act obliged the President to decide by November 1 whether to move forward with the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would transport Canadian crude oil from the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska, and then on to the Gulf Coast.

As The New American reported two weeks ago, political opposition and environmental rhetoric hover around Obama’s verdict to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Finally, some good news about the economy, from an unlikely place: North Dakota. CNNMoney reported that while the United States' economy grew at less than 3 percent last year, North Dakota’s grew by more than 7 percent. And with national unemployment over 9 percent, in North Dakota it is just over 3 percent (and hasn’t touched 5 percent there in more than 20 years).

The prime driver is the discovery of vast untapped but recoverable oil reserves in the Bakken Formation, along with improved technology, which is allowing entrepreneurs to obtain access to it: fracing (or fracking). Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, explains: “North Dakota has a lot of untapped shale oil, and developing that field [has] attracted a lot of investment and a lot of employment into the state.”

The Bakken Formation is an oil shale deposit located two miles below ground, and reaches from western North Dakota into eastern Montana and up into Saskatchewan, Canada.

At a time when each day seems to bring more dire news regarding the economy, Americans have one silver lining: the price at the pump is going down. According to energy experts, gas prices should fall anywhere from 30 to 50 cents per gallon over the next several weeks.

Crude oil for September delivery dropped to $81.03 a barrel in New York futures trading, but later closed at $85.72 a barrel. Earlier in the week, oil was as low as $79.30 a barrel.

Should energy consumers pay extra taxes to fund government-mandated and subsidized renewable energy technologies? "Absolutely yes," says John Bryson, President Obama's nominee for Commerce Secretary. He made the remark at a meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California in 2009 and went on to extol the virtues of hidden rates in California, a state encumbered with some of the nation's highest electricity and unemployment rates.

Bryson, retired CEO of the electric utility Southern California Edison (SCE) and its parent company Edison International, excused the practice, saying, "That's been a part of the regulatory environment for the investor-owned utilities for as long as I've been close to it."

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