We appear to be leaving 2012 amid an atmosphere of unusual tranquility for our domestic energy industry. With crude prices having remained relatively steady of late, natural gas levies sliding once again, and pain at the pump diminishing for drivers, it’s as if we no longer have any significant energy woes to contend with.
Are we apt to sail through 2013 in a similarly uneventful state? Maybe, but also maybe not.
Stepping on the gas
For starters, as The Wall Street Journal noted not long ago, now that our quadrennial presidential election is behind us, it’s hard to anticipate a perpetuation of the recent regulatory calm from the newly muscular Environmental Protection Agency. The Journal said in a late November opinion piece that “… EPA chief Lisa Jackson has the run of the place.” One potential result noted by the paper could be the setting of greenhouse gas standards for planned new power plants at such a restrictive level that their construction will actually be thwarted.
Perhaps even more important from my perspective is the prospect that the agency will use next year to tighten the federal regulatory clamps on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. This, of course, wouldn’t be a new initiative. Back in April, when the EPA issued the final rule for fracking operations, it appeared sufficiently onerous from an industry perspective that the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Energy Research said: “Once again, the Obama administration is using the (EPA) to execute its war on affordable energy.”
As I’ve told Fools, there’s a Hollywood flick about fracking called Promised Land waiting in the wings for release later this month. While I’m hardly certain that the Matt Damon film will take shots at the safety inherent in fracking, neither am I willing to bet many shekels that it won’t. An anti-fracking tilt in theaters around the country would, of course, tend to invigorate those who believe that the EPA should push state-by-state regulation of fracturing aside and implement far more severe federal strictures in its place.
Read more at The Motley Fool. By David Lee Smith.
Photo credit: kd1s (Creative Commons)