On January 9, 2014, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum establishing a Quadrennial Energy Review (QER).[1] The memorandum set up an interagency task force—led by the Department of Energy and made up of members from relevant departments and agencies[2]—to develop the Quadrennial Energy Review, an energy blueprint for the federal government. The President laid out his reasoning for the QER as follows:

Affordable, clean, and secure energy and energy services are essential for improving U.S. economic productivity, enhancing our quality of life, protecting our environment, and ensuring our Nation’s security. Achieving these goals requires a comprehensive and integrated energy strategy resulting from interagency dialogue and active engagement of external stakeholders. To help the Federal Government better meet this responsibility, I am directing the undertaking of a Quadrennial Energy Review.

The initial focus for the Quadrennial Energy Review will be our Nation’s infrastructure for transporting, transmitting, and delivering energy. Our current infrastructure is increasingly challenged by transformations in energy supply, markets, and patterns of end use; issues of aging and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber and physical threats.

The QER task force solicited comments from interested parties during an open comment period, which closed on October 10. The Institute for Energy Research submitted a comment in order to engage in the QER process and to add to the diversity of perspectives.

As we explain in our comment, individuals and private companies could achieve the stated goals of the QER much more effectively if federal agencies lifted existing regulations that are limiting the production, transport, and delivery of energy in the U.S. Rather than creating new tasks for energy-related agencies to pursue, the QER task force should focus on reducing the regulatory burden of federal agencies on the energy sector. Doing so would promote the QER’s goals of improving U.S. economic productivity, enhancing our quality of life, protecting our environment, and ensuring our Nation’s security.

We also highlight that the President, in outlining his vision for a Quadrennial Energy Review, completely ignores energy production. Unfortunately, energy production has decreased on federal lands over Obama’s tenure while it has increased dramatically on state and private lands. As IER’s comment explains, since 2009, oil production on federal lands is down by 6 percent, and natural gas production on federal lands is down 28 percent. Compare these production levels to non-federal lands, where, since 2009, overall oil production is up by 61 percent and natural gas production is up by 33 percent.

We note that the list of challenges facing today’s energy outlook should include the Environmental Protection Agency’s forced closing of an unprecedented number of coal-fired power plants.[3] It would be irresponsible for the QER not to address the grid reliability implications of EPA rules that are quickly shuttering upwards of 72 gigawatts of affordable, reliable coal-fired power plants.

In IER’s comment, reproduced below, we highlight the top seven ways in which federal agencies can improve the nation’s energy outlook:

  1. Approve the Keystone XL pipeline
  2. Allow more oil and natural gas production on federal lands
  3. Leave hydraulic fracturing regulations to state and local governments
  4. Avoid picking favorites in energy markets
  5. Approve new natural gas and oil pipelines
  6. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of grid reliability
  7. Expedite the regulatory morass required for transporting, transmitting, storing, and delivering energy

Click here to read the full comment.

[1]The White House, Presidential Memorandum — Establishing a Quadrennial Energy Review, Office of the Press Secretary, January 9, 2014, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/09/presidential-memorandum-establishing-quadrennial-energy-review.

[2]See the list of 22 agencies and departments in White House, ibid.

[3]Institute for Energy Research, Power Plant Closures, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/topics/policy/power-plant-closures/

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