US Chamber chief wants
energy included in
US Chamber of Commerce Pres. Thomas J. Donohue said oil
and gas pipelines and electricity transmission systems must
be included as he listed US infrastructure improvements as a
top priority in 2018 in his annual State of American Business
address on Jan. 10.
Donohue’s observation came a day after American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard made similar points during his keynote address at API’s State of American Energy
event (See story, p. 18).
Donohue opined that this year can and must be the one
when major infrastructure investments are made in the US.
“We have the political will, the bipartisan support, and we
certainly have the need. Now is the time to act,” he said.
Roads and bridges must be rebuilt and modernized for
coming technological changes such as driverless vehicles,
Donohue said. Broadband needs to be expanded so it is more
widely available, seaports and airports need to be revitalized to handle demands of an increasingly global and mobile
economy, and water supply systems must be updated so that
basic resource remains safe and available, he stated.
“And don’t forget we’re also living in the midst of an energy renaissance, yet we don’t have the infrastructure to support it. So we must revamp our power grid and build the
pipelines necessary to transport our abundant resources to
market,” Donohue said.
At a press conference following his address, Donohue
noted that pipelines and power transmission systems are
built with private investments and don’t require government
expenditures, as Gerard also observed on Jan. 9.
Infrastructure summit scheduled
“That’s why I want to see people back here on Jan. 18 for
our infrastructure event where we’re going to jumpstart the
conversation between the private and public-sector leaders,”
Donohue said. “We’re already talking to administration of-
ficials and with possible investors.”
But he warned that improving US infrastructure will not
get far unless another 2018 priority—building the workforce
of the future—isn’t meaningfully addressed, including re-
forming immigration laws so thousands of people who have
been living and working here for decades will not remain
under the shadow of possibly being deported.
“I will tell you now that if we do a $1 trillion-plus in-
frastructure deal, we won’t have the workers to do it with-
out some big changes,” Donohue said. “I also have been a
supporter of increasing the federal gasoline tax, which we
haven’t done for 26 years. I don’t think Congress will be
willing to allocate so much spending for infrastructure im-
provements without at least considering it.”
Asked about the Chamber’s goals heading into midterm
congressional elections in November, he said the organi-
zation is trying to build a bipartisan consensus that build
on 2017 successes including instituting an internationally
competitive corporate tax rate and reversals of many exces-
sive Obama-era regulations, “including sweeping rules that
shackled our nation’s energy resources and innovators.”
At the press conference he said, “We’re trying to build a
consensus. At the same time, we realize that whoever holds
the majority in Congress drives the agenda. We’ll try to keep
the pro-business leaders who are there already, including
FERC ends consideration
of Perry’s power grid
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has terminated a proceeding on Jan. 8 that considered US Energy Sec.
Rick Perry’s Sept. 29 proposal on electric power grid pricing and resilience. It directed regional operators to provide
information on whether they and FERC need to take additional action to make power grids more resilient instead.
The proposal had drawn immediate criticism from natural gas producers and transportation system operators, who
saw it as a veiled attempt to preserve power generation markets for the coal and nuclear power industries that otherwise
could not compete economically with gas. Several gas and
other energy associations promptly welcomed FERC’s latest
“The goals of this proceeding are to develop a common
understanding among the commission, industry, and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and
requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization and independent system operator assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information
to evaluate whether additional commission action regarding
resilience is appropriate,” FERC said in its Jan. 8 announcement.
Natural Gas Supply Association Pres. Dena E. Wiggins
said the organization and its members were pleased that