Skip to main content

Editorial comment

An underlying theme of 2009 has been that of ‘change.’ And indeed, with both a new Administration and a new Congress settling in, we are sure to see a great deal of change in the months ahead, although what changes lie in store, and what those changes will mean to American families and businesses, is far from clear.


Register for a free trial »
Get started absolutely FREE in 2 minutes, no credit card required.


An underlying theme of 2009 has been that of ‘change.’ And indeed, with both a new Administration and a new Congress settling in, we are sure to see a great deal of change in the months ahead, although what changes lie in store, and what those changes will mean to American families and businesses, is far from clear. During these times of economic uncertainty, however, the domestic oil and refining communities should be counted on as part of the solution to the challenges American consumers and businesses face.

NPRA believes that sound, realistic energy policy must incorporate the broadest possible portfolio of domestically produced energy, including oil and natural gas, nuclear, clean coal, and renewables. American businesses and consumers recognise that the most diverse domestic fuel mix possible will go a long way toward enhancing our nation’s energy security while improving our economic security and global competitiveness.

American consumers also believe overwhelmingly in the need to expand offshore oil exploration and development, and Congress took a step in the right direction toward improved energy security when it allowed the 26 year old moratorium on offshore development to expire in 2008. This, however, is only the first step toward the production of those resources, and is one that some in Congress, unfortunately, would like to see reversed early in 2009. Safe offshore exploration and the continued development of Canadian oil sands will significantly enhance both American energy and economic security by ensuring there will always be a reliable, secure supply of energy resources easily accessible to our domestic markets.

Just as the current state of the economy weighs heavily on the minds of consumers and workers, the consequences regarding energy cost and supply must be weighed during consideration of any proposal to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

President Obama and Democrat leaders in Congress have promised to seek swift action on climate change legislation. Additionally, following the Supreme Court’s April 2007 ‘Massachusetts versus EPA’ decision, EPA, in July 2008, issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for the regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act. Such far reaching measures will be extremely costly and intrusive, and will harm American families, businesses, and the economy through cumbersome requirements and increased energy costs.

US environmental and energy policies are inherently connected, and must work in harmony in order to be effective. Given today’s economic realities and the challenges we are facing, it may be difficult for the new Administration and some members of Congress to justify implementing any climate change policy that would raise consumers’ costs, threaten American jobs, and ultimately have very little, if any, impact on global temperature.

Three bills introduced during the previous Congress that are likely to be reintroduced during the 111th Congress, the ‘Employee Free Choice Act,’ the ‘RESPECT’ Act, and the ‘Arbitration Fairness Act,’ constitute potential setbacks to the original goals and intents of the labour movement. At first glance, these proposals are merely misguided efforts to reform US labour law. Further analysis makes clear, however, that they would result in increased costs during arbitration, confusion regarding the definition and role of ‘supervisors,’ and plain harassment of workers who will no longer be able to express their will without fear of retribution, as the secret ballot would be eliminated. NPRA will continue to advocate strongly for labour policies that protect workers’ rights, because it knows that its members’ employees are their greatest asset and strength.

These are just a few key issues of importance during the coming year, not just to the domestic oil and refining community, but to American families, workers, and the economy. As policymakers consider the choices they will face in the coming year that may shape the landscape of American policy for decades to come, it is crucial that they consider all aspects of each of these issues, not simply the political implications, but sound economic principles, realistic technological practices, and the well being and security of American families, businesses, and consumers.