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MCCULLOUGH: Common sense energy policy can work for U.S.

Glenn McCullough

Glenn McCullough

If there’s one reason Washington should keep an eye on legislation south of the border, it’s so that Mexico doesn’t leave the U.S. in the dust when it comes to energy resource development. Yes, the U.S. is in the midst of its own energy boom, but neither oil and gas production nor global energy markets are confined to a single-country bubble.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story on new reforms that are gaining swift approval in Mexico’s Congress designed to bring huge investments in energy development.

It’s a stark reminder that it’s not just the United States that has new energy to offer the world; Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela and ( do we dare say) Russia does too.

There are, however, several common sense policy moves Washington can make to ensure that the U.S. remains a powerful player in global energy.

For starters, leaders in our nation’s capital can support optimal development of America’s vast shale energy resources. This means releasing more federal land for drilling, accelerating approval of permits for liquified natural gas (LNG) exports and lifting the out-dated ban on crude oil exports. If Washington will get out of the way, energy from shale will be a bigger boon for Americans providing jobs, abundant, affordable energy and energy security through less reliance on OPEC oil.

The U.S. Should encourage expansion of the only 24-7 electricity generation source with zero greenhouse gas emissions — nuclear energy. In blazing summer heat or polar vortex frigid winter cold, nuclear energy safely provides electricity 91% of the time which is the most reliable generation source. The much touted “All of the Above ” energy mix must have nuclear play a key role.

President Obama should swiftly approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Politics should not prohibit approval of a pipeline that will not harm the environment, but will bring thousands of jobs for Americans while reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil.

It’s also time for Washington to expand exploration and production of our crude oil resources in the Gulf of Mexico. For bureaucratic red tape to impede drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is poor policy. To be fair, credit is due for the Obama Administration’s decision in July approving oil exploration off the East Coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

Above all, this Administration should restrain its regulatory ambition. The Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) rules will eliminate jobs and drive up the cost of energy while having no beneficial impact on reducing GHG emissions unless all countries adopt the same rules.

About 40 percent of U.S. electricity today is fueled by coal, which will be significantly reduced it these rules are implemented. Moreover, the shuttering of coal plants around the country will result in higher electricity costs here at home. Meanwhile, our coal will be exported to countries like China, Japan and India, where power plants lack the emissions reduction controls to reduce air and water pollution.

It’s a sad fact that several states have filed lawsuit against the EPA over these rules. If U.S. policy makers will step up to the plate to provide leadership implementing sound energy policy, America can become the world’s energy superpower.

The U.S. should capitalize on our immense shale energy resources, nuclear energy, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, responsible exploration and crude oil production, renewable energy where it’s economically viable, and approve the Keystone XL pipeline and LNG — crude oil export.

There are also technologies available today using residential water heaters as grid batteries which enhance the economics of wind and solar energy, add to grid stability and are energy efficient.

Implementing these steps will help make America the leader in abundant, affordable, reliable energy and a cleaner environment while providing thousands of careers at a pivotal time for our country.

 

» Glenn McCullough Jr. is the former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and a past mayor of Tupelo. He is chairman of Advance Mississippi, a coalition advocating for sound energy policies that will benefit consumers, the environment and economy.

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