U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “Michigan Needs Jobs And Fred Upton Has Been A Consistent Advocate For Policies That Create Jobs”

An ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce relies on a set of unfounded suppositions about American energy in order to bolster Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Gas prices were high at the time of the ad, as the Chamber insinuates with images of a gas pump counting upward, but they’ve come down – and with oil prices set on the world market, there’s not much that increased domestic production could do to provide relief anyway. Upton does, as the ad claims, say that building the Keystone pipeline will create jobs and lower our dependence on foreign oil, but studies indicate that that’s not true. Claiming that Upton is “fighting the bureaucracy that is standing in the way of new American energy development,” the Chamber glosses over the fact that American crude oil production and exports are up under the Obama administration.

Gas Price Trends Show Obama Isn’t To Blame

Gas Prices May Fall Below $3 By Fall 2012. According to USA Today: “The darkening clouds of the slowing economy could provide a bright spot for consumers: gasoline at $3 a gallon — or less — by autumn. Nationally, regular gasoline averages $3.47 a gallon, down 47 cents from this year’s high in April and well below the $5-a-gallon fears fanned earlier this year by energy speculators, Middle East tensions and oil refinery glitches that crimped supplies. Those issues appear to be over, at least for now.” [USA Today, 6/21/12]

Gas Prices Collapsed During The Recession, And Began To Rise Again Just Before President Obama Took Office. Below is a chart of Energy Information Administration data on average pump prices for a gallon of gasoline since 2006:


[EIA.gov, accessed 2/23/12]

U.S. Gas Prices Have Followed The Same Trend As Global Gas Prices. The following graph from the New York Times illustrates the price per gallon of gasoline in the United States, Britain, Germany, and France between 1996 and October 2011:


[New York Times, 3/17/12]

Domestic Energy Policy Doesn’t Have Impact On Oil Prices…

Gas Prices Are Determined By Global Markets. From the Wall Street Journal: “U.S. gasoline prices, like prices throughout the advanced economies, are determined by global market forces. It is hard to see how Mr. Obama’s policies can be blamed. […] When Mr. Obama was inaugurated, demand was weak due to the recession. But now it’s stronger, and thus the price is higher. What’s more, producing a lot of oil doesn’t lower the price of gasoline in your country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Germans over the past three years have paid an average of $2.64 a gallon (excluding taxes), while Americans paid $2.69, even though the U.S. produced 5.4 million barrels of oil per day while Germany produced just 28,000.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/10/12]

Energy Information Administration Head: “Globally Integrated Nature Of The World Oil Market” And Influence Of OPEC Means That Domestic Oil Drilling Would “Not Have A Large Impact On Prices.” At a hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Richard Newell, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, testified: “Long term, we do not project additional volumes of oil that could flow from greater access to oil resources on Federal lands to have a large impact on prices given the globally integrated nature of the world oil market and the more significant long-term compared to short-term responsiveness of oil demand and supply to price movements. Given the increasing importance of OPEC supply in the global oil supply-demand balance, another key issue is how OPEC production would respond to any increase in non-OPEC supply, potentially offsetting any direct price effect.” [EIA.gov, 3/17/11]

Gas Price Expert: Speculators Are Driving Current Rise In Gas Prices. From Businessweek: “Strangely, the current run-up in prices comes despite sinking demand in the U.S. ‘Petrol demand is as low as it’s been since April 1997,’ says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. ‘People are properly puzzled by the fact that we’re using less gas than we have in years, yet we’re paying more.’ Kloza believes much of the increase is due to speculative money that’s flowed into gasoline futures contracts since the beginning of the year, mostly from hedge funds and large money managers. ‘We’ve seen about $11 billion of speculative money come in on the long side of gas futures,’ he says. ‘Each of the last three weeks we’ve seen a record net long position being taken.’” [Businessweek, 2/14/12]

GOP Economist Holtz-Eakin In 2011: Rising Gas Prices Were “Inevitable” Component Of Recovery From “Massive Global Recession.” On CNN’s State of the Union in March 2011, Republican economist and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said: “I think there are three lessons on the oil and gas front. Lesson number one is we have oil at $140 a barrel in 2008. And it went down not because we somehow discovered a lot more oil. No, it went down because we went into a massive global recession. As economies recovered, it was inevitable that prices were going to rise. And this was utterly foreseeable. Second piece is that Libya’s not really the concern. That’s not what markets are pricing. It’s the broader Middle East. Libya is 2% of oil supplies. That’s not our problem. It’s what happens in the rest of the Middle East. And the third is, something like this is always going to happen. There is always some piece of bad news out there. So, the key should be to build an economy that’s growing more robustly, it’s more resilient to bad news that inevitably will happen.” [State of the Union3/27/11]

…Nonetheless, Oil Production And Exports Are Up Under President Obama

U.S. Crude Oil Production Is At Its Highest In A Decade. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. field production of crude oil in May 2012 (the latest data available) was 194,227,000 barrels, and it has been over 180 million barrels per month in every month since October 2011. Prior to October 2011, the last time monthly oil production was over 180 million barrels was in March 2003. [EIA.gov, 7/30/12

Domestic Liquid Fuel Production Is Higher Than At Any Point During The Bush Administration. The following New York Times graphic illustrates the amount of crude oil and other liquid fuels produced during the Bush administration and the Obama administration, in millions of barrels per day:


[New York Times, 3/17/12]

Under Obama, Oil Exports Are At Their Highest Ever. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 110,028,000 barrels of oil were exported from the U.S. in December 2011, the highest number the EIA has in its records. Exports in May 2012, the latest data available, remained higher than at any point prior to the start of the Obama administration at 98,999,000 barrels. The following graph from the EIA depicts the monthly exports of U.S. exports of crude oil and petroleum products since 1981:


[EIA.gov, 7/30/12]

Keystone Pipeline Would Not Lower Gas Prices Or Create Many Jobs

Amount Of Oil Provided To U.S. Markets By Keystone XL Would Save Consumers Just 3 Cents Per Gallon. From Businessweek: “The gas price argument rests on the bump in supply the Keystone XL will bring to market. Keystone XL would deliver around 830,000 barrels a day. Not all of that would be used in the U.S., however: The pipeline delivers to a tariff-free zone, so there’s a financial incentive to export at least some of this oil. This is especially true because area refineries are primed to produce diesel, for which there’s less stateside demand. But let’s say two-thirds of the capacity—half a million barrels a day—of Keystone oil stays in the U.S. That’s a convenient estimate on which to gauge the impact of Keystone oil, because it’s the supply increase the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which provides independent data on energy markets, expected in a recent study of the expiration of offshore drilling bans. In 2008, it studied what 500,000 barrels more per day would save consumers at the pump: 3¢ a gallon.” [Businessweek, 2/17/12]

TransCanada Itself Says Keystone XL Could Raise Gas Prices For Midwestern U.S. From an op-ed by journalist and environmental activist Bill McKibben in The Hill: “But in the case of the Keystone pipeline, it turns out there’s a special twist. At the moment, there’s an oversupply of tarsands crude in the Midwest, which has depressed gas prices there. If the pipeline gets built so that crude can easily be sent overseas, that excess will immediately disappear and gas prices for 15 states across the middle of the country will suddenly rise. Says who? Says the companies trying to build the thing. Transcanada Pipeline’s rationale for investors, and their testimony to Canadian officials, included precisely this point: removing the ‘oversupply’ and the resulting ‘price discount’ would raise their returns by $2 to $4 billion a year.” [McKibben Op-Ed, The Hill, 2/21/12]

State Dept. Estimates Keystone Would Create Just 20 Permanent Jobs. From Businessweek: “Clearly, the construction of the pipe, most of it below ground, will be a huge undertaking. The estimated number of people it will employ in the process, however, has fluctuated wildly, with TransCanada raising the number from 3,500, to 4,200, to 20,000 temporary positions and suggesting the line will employ several hundred on an on-going basis. The U.S. State Department, which made its own assessment because the pipeline crosses the U.S.-Canada border, estimates the line will create just 20 permanent jobs. One advantage of a pipeline, after all, is that it’s automated.” [Businessweek, 2/17/12]

Keystone Would Create Fewer Than 25,000 Total Jobs Per Year For Just Two Or Three Years. From a Cornell University Global Labor Institute study of KXL’s economic impacts: “[W]e calculate that the actual spending relevant to the US economy, and the figure from which US new job creation projections should be calculated, is around $3 to $4 billion, not $7 billion. […] Fortunately, the job projections submitted by developers of other major pipeline projects provide a useful guide for estimating potential impacts for KXL. On this basis, for the purposes of estimating total employment impacts, it is reasonable to assume a multiplier of approximately 11 person-years per $1 million pipeline project capital costs. […] Given a multiplier of 11 person-years per $1 million, this translates into total employment impacts of 33,000 to 44,000 person-years. So a reasonable estimate of the total incremental US jobs from KXL construction is about one-third of the figure estimated in the Perryman study and used by industry to advocate for the construction of KXL. Moreover, any job impacts associated with KXL construction would be spread over 2 and more likely 3 years. So the annual impacts are at most about 22,000 person-years of employment per year, for two years. But the annual impacts could also be as low as 11,000 person-years per year, for three years.” [“Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost By The Construction Of Keystone XL,” Cornell University Global Labor Institute, September 2011, internal citations removed]

Keystone Pipeline Puts A Sensitive Aquifer At Risk For A Spill Involving Toxic Chemicals

Keystone XL Would Pump Heavy Crude Mixed With Toxic Chemicals Over One Of Largest Aquifers In U.S. From NPR: “The difference between Canadian Tar Sands oil and Oklahoma light sweet crude is like the difference between Coca-Cola and cake batter. So to make it easier for Canadian oil to flow thousands of miles south to Cushing, it has to be mixed with chemicals to thin out. ‘They won’t tell us what’s in the oil to make it flow,’ says Randy Thompson, a Nebraskan cattle rancher who’s opposed Keystone XL. He’s successfully spearheaded a campaign to halt the construction of Keystone XL through the ecologically sensitive Sandhills of Nebraska that lie atop one of America’s largest underground aquifers. ‘We know they’re toxic chemicals. So this is a severe concern for a lot of us people out here,’ Thompson says. ‘A lot of us people out here, we gotta drink this water. Be nice to know what the hell they’re pumping through it.’ TransCanada claims that its proposed Keystone XL line will be the safest of its kind ever built. ‘I believe we can absolutely build pipelines with new technology that are getting closer and closer to being leak free,’ Jones says.” [NPR.org, 2/26/12]

Despite Decline In Incidents, Still Over 100 “Significant Spills” Per Year From U.S. Pipelines. From the New York Times: “Federal records show that although the pipeline industry reported 25 percent fewer significant incidents from 2001 through 2010 than in the prior decade, the amount of hazardous liquids being spilled, though down, remains substantial. There are still more than 100 significant spills each year — a trend that dates back more than 20 years. And the percentage of dangerous liquids recovered by pipeline operators after a spill has dropped considerably in recent years.” [New York Times, 9/9/11]

Over 5,600 Incidents Releasing 110 Million Gallons From Pipelines Since 1990. From the New York Times: “Since 1990, more than 5,600 incidents were reported involving land-based hazardous liquid pipelines, releasing a total of more than 110 million gallons of mostly crude and petroleum products, according to analysis of federal data. The pipeline safety agency considered more than half — at least 100 spills each year — to be ‘significant,’ meaning they caused a fire, serious injury or fatality or released at least 2,100 gallons, among other factors.” [New York Times, 9/9/11]

[NARRATOR:] There’s a lot standing in the way of American energy production and it’s costing us. Fred Upton is fighting to create more American energy jobs. Upton says the Keystone pipeline will create jobs and will strengthen energy security, so he’s fighting back against President Obama’s decision to block it. And Upton is fighting the bureaucracy that is standing in the way of new American energy development. Tell Fred Upton to keep standing up for American energy. [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 5/8/12]