Business to Obama: Give Us Certainty

Report: ‘Energy renaissance’ threatened by policy uncertainty

• February 25, 2013 11:00 am


An organization of leading corporate executives called for the federal government to establish a comprehensive national energy policy in a report released Monday.

The Business Roundtable—a group of chief executive officers from such companies as Boeing, Dow, and General Electric—says America is in the midst of an "energy renaissance," but decades of policy uncertainty are stifling the country’s full potential.

"Unfortunately, the nation’s energy policy has evolved through decades of ad hoc measures, resulting in an incoherent patchwork of subsidies, mandates, and regulations," the report states. "The result is a policy labyrinth that, on balance, is more likely to inhibit than to unleash the private-sector investment needed to transform the energy sector."

America’s energy sector is expected to shift dramatically over the next decade, largely in part to huge increases in natural gas production. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects the United States could be a net exporter of natural gas by 2020.

Natural gas is projected to account for 27 percent of America’s total electricity generation by 2025, up from 19 percent in 2005.

Meanwhile, coal’s share is expected to drop from 50 percent to 38 percent.

"America’s energy future is bright, but it is not certain," said David M. Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell International, Inc. "The only guarantee is that the energy landscape will continue to evolve as new technologies emerge, new resources are developed, and markets respond accordingly. A diverse portfolio of energy efficiency and supply options is the best insurance policy against this uncertain future—enabling America to seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks associated with technological and economic change."

The Business Roundtable recommends a number of steps to reduce regulatory burdens and uncertainty, such as working to eliminate duplicative regulations and overlap between state and federal authority.

The Business Roundtable also called on Congress and the executive branch to increase onshore and offshore access to untapped oil reserves on federal lands, noting that approximately 96 percent of the increase in domestic oil production since 2007 took place on private land.

President Barack Obama has called for an "all of the above" energy strategy that develops renewable energy alongside conventional energy such as natural gas and oil.

However, Republicans and advocates of increased oil and gas production say the administration’s plan is far from "all of the above" and keeps roughly 85 percent of America’s offshore areas off-limits to oil exploration.

Another recent report also called on the Obama administration to open more offshore areas for drilling. Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) recently released a 2012 report noting that "significant oil and natural gas resources on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, remain unavailable for development due to statutory restrictions and bureaucratic inertia."

Obama cited the SAFE report in his State of the Union address.

Business Roundtable also recommended the administration immediately approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. It also pushed for immediately opening up the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada, a move staunchly opposed by Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

The report also supports continued investments in renewable energy:

"Congress should provide wind-powered electricity generation with a smooth transition to an era of unsubsidized competitiveness by extending the wind production tax credit so that the benefit is gradually reduced and ultimately eliminated."

Many Republicans in Congress favor immediately halting the wind energy production tax credit, which is projected dole out an estimated $12.1 billion in tax credits to the wind industry over the next decade.