University of Texas at Austin

2005 Think Corner

Highlights of the Energy Bill
Shirley Neff, Center for Energy Marine Transportation and Public Policy, School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University - August 2, 2005

On July 29, 2005, after a four and a half year odyssey, the Congress finally passed an energy bill and sent it to the President for his signature.  Shirley Neff offers a summary of some of the high profile and less high profile but significant issues addressed during the long debate...


History of MTBE legislation
Shirley Neff, Center for Energy Marine Transportation and Public Policy, School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University - August 2, 2005

The Clean Air Amendments (CAAA) of 1990 established a rigid national standard for reformulated gasoline (RFG) that has resulted in far greater use of MTBE than would otherwise have occurred. Rather than accepting the performance standards for cleaner fuels proposed in a bi-partisan compromise, the Senate adopted an amendment requiring explicit reductions in toxics through the use of oxygenate. While the main purpose of the amendment was to expand the use of ethanol, it was well understood at the time that it would require a significant increase in the use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). In fact, extensive debate and negotiations occurred to ensure MTBE could and would be used as well as ethanol to meet the mandate...


How Many Regulators Do We Need?
Dr. Michelle M. Foss

In 1997, I published a commentary, How Many Regulators Do We Need? in Natural Gas.  The commentary was based on a 1995 study of the U.S. natural gas industry, restructuring, and state public utility regulatory oversight.  The conclusions and observations, viewed in the context of the current status of electricity restructuring in the U.S., are such that my commentary on regulation and regulators is re-published in Think Corner.


Current Issues in Canadian Energy and Environment
Dr. Joseph Doucet

In February 2005, a group of University of Alberta MBA students, specializing in Natural Resources and Energy, visited Houston as part of their capstone course. The students were led by Professor Joseph Doucet. The visit to Houston introduced the students to the energy capital of the U.S., Canada's largest trading partner. As part of their course, the students produced research papers on four important topics that affect energy sector development in Canada, and particularly in Alberta.

The oil sands found in northern Alberta represent an incredible resource that is enjoying a surge of development and promises to grow in the future and provide crude oil for Canadian and U.S. markets for years to come. The first paper presents an overview of this resource and describes some of the particularities and challenges of this resource. Download An Introduction to Development in Alberta's Oil Sands, by Rob Engelhardt and Marius Todirescu

Alberta is blessed with vast quantities of resources, including petroleum, forests, as well as a beautiful natural environment. Challenges present themselves as we develop these resources and strive to maintain a balance between economic development and environmental protection. The second paper discusses specific impacts of oil and gas development on Alberta's forests, one of the challenges that we face. Download Forest Fragmentation – Effects of Oil and Gas Activities on Alberta Forests, by Thomas Braun and Stephen Hanus

Another challenge in the development of Alberta's oil and gas reserves is to work with Canada's Aboriginal peoples, as is discussed in the third paper. This challenge mirrors similar issues in other parts of the world and highlights the need for open and transparent processes, consultation and a clear regulatory framework. Download The Aboriginal Role in the Development of Albertan Oil and Gas Reserves, by Sherry Norton and Shelley Zwicker

The fourth paper discusses a forward-looking issue, namely the development of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. While not as large as potential resources in Alaska, Mackenzie gas will have a positive impact on North American gas markets. Download The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, by Robert Huston and Ashish George Sam