What Gas Export Backers Could Learn from Game of Thrones
Congress is back next week, and they're filling their agenda with events intended to make the case that as Vladimir Putin pushes forward, the U.S. can frack back—so long as some of that fracked natural gas gets exported.
As I mentioned yesterday, a Senate hearing Tuesday will include a strong dose of pro-export advocacy. A day later, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will gather to discuss "The Geopolitical Potential of the U.S. Energy Boom," where Chairman Ed Royce says the panel will push the case that U.S. exports could answer "Russia's energy grip."
Meanwhile, comments today by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz offered more evidence that the Obama administration agrees that exports could—eventually—help curb European reliance on Russian gas. "Maybe we will give some additional weight to the geopolitical criterion going forward," he told Bloomberg.
It's another sign that, as we reported earlier this week, the Crimean crisis is creating new political headwinds for environmentalists battling fracking and the export push that the U.S. gas boom has enabled.
But those drawing their export blueprints may want to take heed from an unlikely source.
In an episode of last season's Game of Thrones, the scheming character Littlefinger cautions the equally scheming Varys against banking on an outcome of the political struggle of Westeros: "[These are] early days, my friend."
Environmentalist Bill McKibben, on a call with reporters this week in which activists cast exports as bad for climate change, noted that several years ago approval of the Keystone XL pipeline was viewed as a foregone conclusion.
"Fights change political realities," McKibben said on the call.
That same Game of Thrones episode features the terrific "Chaos Is a Ladder" speech. Today, the politics are increasingly favoring export backers, but there's still time for both sides to climb or fall.
TOP ENERGY NEWS
By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)
ENERGY SECRETARY: UKRAINE WILL INFLUENCE GAS EXPORTS. Ernest Moniz said that the White House will take the current conflict abroad into account when it considers expedited approval for new natural-gas export terminals. (Jim Snyder and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg)
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TECH ADVANCES HELP WIND BECOME COST-COMPETITIVE. New technology is helping turbines become increasingly efficient and cost-effective. (Diane Cardwell, The New York Times)
NUCLEAR-WASTE PLANT REMAINS CLOSED. The New Mexico Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground storage facility for nuclear waste, has yet to reopen after a leak exposed workers to low-level radiation last month. (Dan Frosch, The New York Times)
NATE SILVER IS HAVING AN EZRA KLEIN MOMENT. FiveThirtyEight hasn't hired a global-warming denier, but Silver's new writer—Roger Pielke Jr.—has fully flunked the green purity test. (Ben Geman, National Journal)
EUROPE WEIGHS PLAN TO BOOST ENERGY SECURITY. European Union officials want a plan to cut continental dependence on Russia's natural gas. (Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg)
CONSERVATIVES WANT TO TIE OBAMA'S HANDS ON CONSERVATION. The House is expected to pass legislation that would revoke the president's authority to set aside new national monuments. (Zack Coleman, Washington Examiner)
GERMAN CHANCELLOR SAYS U.S. GAS EXPORTS COULD HELP EUROPE. Angela Merkel said that U.S. natural-gas shipments abroad would help the continent have a greater diversity of energy sources. (Stephen Brown and Noah Barkin, Reuters)
ENERGY PRODUCTION THREATENS WATER SUPPLY. The United Nations is out with a report saying that ramped-up energy development and production is likely to cut back on the availability of water resources. (Tara Patel, Bloomberg)
MAJOR STORM HEADS EAST. A nor'easter is on track to hit the East Coast at the beginning of next week. (Eric Holthaus, Slate)
STATES TAKE STEPS TO COMPLY WITH CLIMATE RULE. A number of states have already begun working on compliance plans to meet upcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. (Anthony Adragna, Bloomberg BNA)
GREEN GROUP ENDORSES GARY PETERS. The League of Conservation Voters announced its support for Democratic Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan in his Senate race. (Jennifer Yachnin, Greenwire)
RESPONSE TO RUSSIA SHOULD INCLUDE LNG EXPORTS. U.S. response to the conflict in Ukraine should include expedited approval of natural-gas exports to NATO countries and Ukraine, according to the latest National Journal energy poll. Sixty-two percent of respondents said lifting U.S. LNG export restrictions would lessen Russia's influence in Europe and erode its power to use natural gas as a political weapon, while 38 percent said the infrastructure isn't in place to ship LNG quickly enough to impact the current crisis and that boosting exports would raise domestic gas prices.
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING…
Next week's National Journal Energy & Environment Insiders discussion will ask: Is there a diplomatic case for boosting gas exports? Should the U.S. lift export restrictions in response to the crisis in Ukraine or should current policies be left in place? What's at stake for U.S. diplomatic relations, the economy, and the environment?
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