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Flipping the Script

Flipping the Script

Not long ago, I caught the 2005 petro-political thriller Syriana on cable (again). It's intense and entertaining. George Clooney and Chris Cooper bring their A-games.


But not all of it ages well. At one point Matt Damon's character says about oil: "It's running out, and 90 percent of what's left is in the Middle East."

Back then, U.S. imports were climbing and production was falling. Fast-forward a decade and we're swimming in the stuff. And that's bringing new fears and political tensions alongside greater energy security and enhanced leverage on Iran policy.

Environmentalists fear that the domestic supply surge collides with climate goals. The boom has also sparked a battle over whether the U.S. should start exporting crude oil.


And tomorrow a leading advocate of U.S. oil development, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, takes over the Senate's energy committee.

A decade after Syriana, there's a new script—and it's no less fascinating.

Ben Geman

P.S. Thanks for taking the latest National Journal Energy Poll. Results are below!



By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

CLIMATE AIDES MOVE TO WHITE HOUSE. Rick Duke has been appointed as the administration's deputy director for climate policy while Ali Zaidi will become the deputy director for energy policy. (Paywall)

  • Our take: President Obama's public focus has been elsewhere lately, but the White House is taking steps to ensure his executive climate actions make progress as he gets closer to leaving office.

MARKEY HANDED NEW SENATE MEGAPHONE ON CLIMATE CHANGE. The Democratic senator moves to the Environment and Public Works Committee following the departure of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

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EPA STEPS INTO FRAY OVER FRACKING. The Environmental Protection Agency put out guidelines for the use of diesel fuel in fracking operations.

OBAMA HOPES PARIS IS NO COPENHAGEN. The president sees an "opportunity to forge" a meaningful global warming accord at a 2015 summit in France.

HOUSE CONSERVATIVES PUSH BACK ON WORLD BANK POLICY. Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Energy Subcommittee plan to tell the World Bank that they oppose its decision to halt financing for overseas coal plants.

NATURAL GAS WELL EXPLODES IN PENNSYLVANIA. One worker was injured by a well explosion that occurred Tuesday while another worker is now missing.

KEYSTONE COMMENTS POUR IN. Now that the State Department has completed its final environmental impact statement of the project, interested parties are weighing in on the proposed pipeline with a flood of comments.

OLYMPIC ATHLETES WANT CLIMATE ACTION. More than 100 Olympic athletes from nearly a dozen countries have signed onto a letter asking for global action to mitigate climate change.

WEST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR PRESSES FEDS FOR AID. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said he would appeal a decision handed down by FEMA not to reimburse state and local emergency response measures taken in the aftermath of last month's chemical spill.

NORTH DAKOTA OIL SPILL CLEANUP DRAGS ON. Cleanup efforts following an oil spill in the state discovered last year might not be at an end for up to two more years.


POLL SHOWS A SPLIT ON OBAMA'S NATURAL GAS POLICY. National Journal's latest energy poll shows a large majority favors President Obama's policy to fully back natural gas, but there's a split on whether he should also bet more heavily on renewables. Roughly 37 percent supported the policy as is, but 39 percent said he should put more emphasis on renewable energy. Only 24 percent said Obama is not making the right bet by fully backing natural gas.


IS OBAMA MAKING THE RIGHT BET ON NATURAL GAS? In his State of the Union speech, Obama doubled down on his support for natural gas, calling it "the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution that causes climate change." Is that the right decision?

"Obama is not making a bet on natural gas – he's merely facing reality. In the absence of scalable, affordable alternatives, natural gas will continue to heat our homes, power manufacturing, and generate reliable, clean electricity." -Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs, Western Energy Alliance

"If the administration is serious about stimulating gas production and use, it should open up new federal lands and offshore tracts for lease. It should also accelerate American exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The world is hungry for clean-burning natural gas, especially for use in electric power generation." -Bernard L. Weinstein, associate director, Maguire Energy Institute

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders


NOMINATIONS HEARING. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a full committee markup to vote on the nominations of Rhea Suh to be assistant Interior secretary for fish and wildlife and parks; and Janice Schneider to be assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management.

RAIL SAFETY HEARING. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee hearing on passenger- and freight-rail safety.

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