Philly’s Energy Future at Shale Insight – Sept 20, 2015

Today we talk about five things in the news for the week of September 14, 2015:

  1. Crude Exports Move to the House Floor
  2. Obama and Clinton Come Out (Mostly) Opposed to Exports
  3. Trump Lays Out His Views on Climate Change
  4. Marathon Republican Debate Misses on Energy; Heritage Hits
  5. Interior Secretary Updates on Fracking and Methane Rules

For our interview this week, we talked to a number of folks at the Shale Insight Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Listen below or on iTunes or Stitcher.

 1.  Crude Exports Move to the House Floor

As reported in The Hill:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee took a major step Thursday toward allowing crude oil exports from the United States.  Three Democrats joined all of the Republicans on Thurday in voting for a bill that would lift the decades-old ban on exports. The tally was 31-19.  The vote sends the legislation to the full House for final passage, something that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said would happen in the coming weeks…

Reps. Gene Green (Texas), Kurt Schrader (Ore.) and Toyn Cardenas (Calif.) were the only Democrats voting in favor of the measure.  Other Democrats said last week that they had hoped to negotiate changes that would allow them to support the bill, but most did not have their concerns met.

The Committee Chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) laid out his argument for crude exports, and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said the bill should not be passed without some trade off for consumers or environmentalists.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who has been leading the Senate effort, appeared at a National Journal event and said he was skeptical about pairing an export bill with something else.  He thinks, however, if things are done right he has a filibuster-proof margin of 60 votes.

 2.  Obama and Clinton Come Out (Mostly) Opposed to Exports

Early last week, the White House was asked to respond to the crude export bill moving through the House.  Spokesman Josh Earnest initially shied away from taking a position beyond criticizing Republicans for failing to raise taxes on the oil industry.  He said the President’s position is that crude exports should be considered and decided by the experts at the Commerce Department (an agency he one sought to eliminate).  The White House eventually came out in “crystal-clear” opposition to the crude-export bill.

Reuters reports that that Hillary is more or less on the same page:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Friday she would support lifting the 40-year-old U.S. ban on crude exports only if the measure included concessions from the oil and gas industry to move toward cleaner energy.

Clinton said she had not yet seen any legislation on lifting the ban that included concessions from the fossil fuel industry, In the absence of that, “I don’t think the ban should be lifted,” Clinton told reporters….”The bill, as I understand it, does not come anywhere near doing what I think has to be done to move toward the energy transition that is so important for our country,” Clinton said.

This is not necessarily a new position for her, however.

3.  Trump Lays Out His Views on Climate Change

Trump appeared on Morning Joe and called climate change “not a big problem.”  He also responded to a question about climate at a rally by polling his audience to find they do not believe in it:

This is not necessarily new territory for Donald:

 4.  Marathon Republican Debate Misses Energy; Heritage Hits

Last week, CNN hosted a nearly three-hour-long debate featuring the Republican party.  Tragically, the debate failed to get into any energy issues.  Later in the week, however, Heritage Action hit a couple interesting points.  They asked Gov. Bush about his past opposition of offshore drilling and he said that should be a state issue:

They also asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about agriculture subsidies and Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) about his opposition to coal.  Gov. Christie said that he simply felt coal was not going to be used in New Jersey anymore because of the abundance of natural gas in the region.

5.  Interior Secretary Updates on Fracking and Methane Rules

The Department of Interior is in the midst of litigation over its proposed rules for fracking on federal land.  There is still a good bit of confusion over how much the rules will displace existing state regulations, but at a Christian Science Monitor event last week Sec. Jewell repeated her contention that the rules will not be duplicative.

The Secretary also provided an update that the Department of Interior’s regulations on methane are over at the White House for review and will be out for public comment soon.

Sounds of Shale Insight 2015 (Starts at 33:01)

This week I attended the Shale Insight Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I found the crowd to be quite optimistic, though perhaps a bit weary from low oil and gas prices.  Everyone seemed confident we are in a temporary slowdown, and not going through a full-scale bust.  Cost reduction was a common talking point.  The conference put a major focus on expanding end uses of natural gas.  The event also featured a lot of talk about improved relations with regulators and communities.  Though not a focus of the conference, it was all somewhat overshadowed by the looming potential of a new natural gas severance tax that has led to a budget impasse in the Pennsylvania state house.

I thought the best way to capture the essence of the event would be to walk around the conference and ask folks three easy questions: (1) what do you do, (2) what are you looking forward to for next year, and (3) what one policy would you like to see changed to help the industry?  Here is what I heard:

Alan Langenfeld, Laboratory Manager – Isotech Laboratories 

  • What do you do? – We analyze the composition of natural gas samples.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are launching a new product that provides analysis at the well site.
  • What policy would you change? – No comment.

Phil Guenzer, Engineer – Impact Environmental

  • What do you do? – We process drill cuttings from oil and gas wells.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are launching this month and our goal is strong growth.
  • What policy would you change? – The Pennsylvania State government needs to get a fair budget in place.

Patrick Eiding, President – Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO

  • What do you do? – I am very involved in workforce development.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are hoping to see the gas industry bring new industries to the area.
  • What policy would you change? – Congress should not open up oil exports because that will hurt U.S. refining.

Bill Tillman, Area Director – Tensar Corporation

  • What do you do? – We manufacture products to improve roadways and drilling pads.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We hoping increased usage of oil and gas will drive investments in infrastructure.
  • What policy would you change? – We just focus on infrastructure.

Tom Polinski, District Representative – Zeeco 

  • What do you do? – We provide equipment to flare waste gas.
  • What are you looking forward to? –  An upswing in the industry.
  • What policy would you change? – I hope we do not see new taxes.

John Herrmann, Market Development Manger – TenCate

  • What do you do? – We manufacture textiles used to stabilize roads and well pads.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are hoping to see more drilling.
  • What policy would you change? – We would like to see the process for drilling on federal land simplified.

Sean Moran, Partner – Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

  • What do you do? – I lead our law firm’s oil & gas practice, and moderated on panel on making Philadelphia a major energy hub.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We looking forward to improved natural gas prices.
  • What policy would you change? – I would like to see policies changed to make it easier to export oil and gas.

Tom McGeehan, Director of Business Development – E-Finity Distributed Generation

  • What do you do? – We distribute Capstone turbines packaged into a container that can provide remote electricity, on a well site for example.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are seeing growth in commercial combined heat and power.
  • What policy would you change? – We would like to see combined heat and power be treated on par with other energy sources for federal investment tax credits.

Emily Tenenbaum, Business Development Manager – Primus Green Energy

  • What do you do? – We have a new technology to convert natural gas to liquid fuels like gasoline.
  • What are you looking forward to? – Rolling out commercial plants.
  • What policy would you change? – We do not need any.

Donny Beaver, CEO – Halen Hardy

  • What do you do? – We tackle crappy jobs, like cleaning gloves that would otherwise be thrown away.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are helping companies save money while times are tough, and hoping they will keep using us when things get better.
  • What policy would you change? – It would be nice to see the government work together to support the oil and gas industry.

Lisa Crutchfield, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Affairs – Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

  • What do you do? – I am leading a coalition to help bring an energy hub to southeastern Pennsylvania.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We will be releasing a pipeline “master plan” laying out how we will expand capacity from the Marcellus to the surrounding region.
  • What policy would you change? –  We are looking to the state and its natural gas task force to help expedite permitting and licensing.

Erik Johanson, Manager – Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

  • What do you do? – We are utilizing natural gas in both our rail fleets and facilities.
  • What are you looking forward to? – Installing new natural gas powered combined heat and power plants.
  • What policy would you change? –  We support the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act, which allows new equipment to be paid for with energy savings.

Howard Soule, Territory Manager – Petro Choice

  • What do you do? – We are a leading supplier of lubricants.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We need to see an increase in oil and gas prices driven by a greater focus on domestic markets.
  • What policy would you change? –  Anything to create energy independence.

Shari William, Community Outreach Manager – Marcellus Shale Coalition 

  • What do you do? – I am hosting a display highlighting everyday uses of natural gas, which includes vehicles, diapers, aspirin, cleaning products, headsets, and more.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We are trying to make the conference bigger and better every year, and we are back in Pittsburg next year.
  • What policy would you change? – We need incentives to make it easy for people to do business in Pennsylvania.

Alan Fellman, Manager – Dade Moeller

  • What do you do? – We specialize in processing natural radioactive waste that comes up with oil and gas.
  • What are you looking forward to? – We looking to increase our visibility in the industry.
  • What policy would you change? –  We want to make sure regulations are based on common sense and do not overreact to perceived threats.