President Barack Obama has managed to simultaneously implement a strong plan to combat climate change utilizing the Environmental Protection Agency while spearheading an “all of the above” energy policy that includes more fracking, oil drilling and crude exports.
Moreover, the US is predicted to be the world’s leading producer of oil, over Russia and Saudi Arabia by 2015.
As a result, according to a new report released on Monday from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) the US is now at a 15-year-high for oil exports, regardless of restrictions still in place from the 1973 Arab oil embargo.
The news comes amid recent calls by some Republican lawmakers to loosen restrictions on the export of US oil, while environmental protestors continue to urge Obama not to approve the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline and to invest more in renewable energy.
The EIA study finds that shipments surpassed 268,000 barrels of crude per day in April, which was an 8.9 increase from the previous month.
Canada is the main beneficiary of US exports, although permits can be issued with government approval under a fairly broad list of exceptions.
According to the EIA, “a company must obtain a license from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Under export licensing requirements, the following kinds of transactions will generally be approved.”
- Exports from Alaska's Cook Inlet
- Exports to Canada for consumption or use therein
- Exports in connection with the refining or exchange of strategic petroleum reserve oil
- Exports that are consistent with international energy supply agreements
- Exports of foreign-origin crude
- Exports of California heavy crude up to an average of 25,000 b/d
- Temporary exports or exchanges
Nonetheless, a recent Gallup poll indicates that while Americans are not opposed to Obama’s “all of the above” energy plan, they have a stronger focus on their government fighting climate change and increasing renewable energy efforts in solar and wind than in the past.
In addition, Americans, according to the poll, increasingly question the health and environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Meanwhile, solar has quietly increased in popularity the past few years on several fronts, even as the energy industry warns that increases in solar would drive up costs, which has not materialized.
Statistics published by GreenTechMedia show if installation for solar photovoltaic panels continues at the 2013 rate, the American solar industry could be “installing a system every minute and twenty seconds by 2016.”
Such a boon would make residential solar installations surpass a total of 1 million by 2016 compared to 2010.
As the US is getting recognition for the unusual dichotomy of being a top oil producer/exporter and a world leader on fighting climate change, scientists say in order to avoid the catastrophic impacts of extreme weather, two-thirds of the world’s remaining oil reserves should stay in the ground.
“In order to play its part in meeting global climate goals, it is imperative that the U.S. maintain the ban on crude oil exports and do everything it can to decrease, rather than increase, the global pool of fossil fuel reserves that are exploited,” said Lorne Stockman research director at Oil Change International in a 2013 EcoWatch report.
News of increasing dominance in oil production and exports may not sit well with environmentalists, but it’s also likely to be seen as a puzzling conundrum by many Americans paying more every day at the gas pumps.