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On energy, pipelines, and the rule of law

Jan 6, 2012
Carter Wood

Catching up on our reading, energy policy emerges preeminent. And rightfully so. But there are lots of other interesting developments in the business world worth noting. To wit:

Good airplane fare, the December issue of Fortune with its list of best business leaders for 2011, including many Business Roundtable member CEOs. Congrats to Howard Schultz of Starbucks for being named Businessperson of the Year.

SmartMoney.com interviews Clarence Otis Jr., president CEO of Darden Restaurants – and a BRT member – focusing on the Olive Garden franchise.

Popular Science makes its predictions for 2012. “Garage Rocketeers Approach Orbit,” video games and more.  

Timothy Noah at the liberal New Republic details his and others’ doubts about the constitutionality of President Obama’s “recess” appointments. For one thing, the Senate wasn’t in recess.

An interesting sidelight to President Obama’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board: One Democratic appointee, Richard Griffin, is general counsel of The International Union of Operating Engineers – a big backer of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Writing in The Globe and Mail, Allan Gotlieb, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States, Colin Robertson, first head of the Advocacy Secretariat in Canada’s Washington embassy, include the Keystone pipeline as a priority in an op-ed, How to get that border deal just right.” They argue further:

The long-term success of the deal lies as much in addressing the “tyranny of small differences” afflicting our goods, services and people as with the challenges they encounter at the border. While the deal was crafted by Barack Obama’s administration to avoid submitting implementing legislation to Congress, we would be making a mistake if we relied solely on the administration. Behind a regulation, there often stands a protectionist interest, and behind the protectionist interest stands a congressman.

International Railway Journal analyzes Warren Buffett’s decision to acquire BNSF for Berkshire-Hathaway. Buffet explains:

Our country's future prosperity depends on an efficient and well-maintained rail system… Conversely, America must grow and prosper for railroads to do well. Berkshire's $US 34 billion investment in BNSF is a huge bet on that company, CEO Mr. Matt Rose and his team, and the rail industry. But, most important of all, it's an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States. I love these bets.

The “State of American Energy” address Tuesday by Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, was substantive and measured, a solid policy speech accompanied by the announcement of the Vote4Energy campaign to elevate energy as an election issue. In contrast, the retort from the lefty Center for American Progress was invidious claptrap. (CAPtrap?)  Responding to every argument by shouting “Big Oil!” is not persuasive.

More evidence that the United States should focus on developing its domestic energy resources: An Ecuador court’s decision this week to uphold the absurd $18 billion judgment against Chevron, the product of U.S. trial lawyers and supposed environmental activists ginning up fraudulent litigation as a shakedown. Chevron responded:

Today’s decision is another glaring example of the politicization and corruption of Ecuador’s judiciary that has plagued this fraudulent case from the start. The Lago Agrio judgment was procured through a corrupt and fraudulent scheme, much of which was captured on film and memorialized in the plaintiffs’ representatives’ own emails and correspondence. Their misconduct includes fabricating expert reports, manufacturing evidence, bribing and colluding with court officials, waging a campaign of intimidation against judges, and even ghostwriting parts of the verdict itself.

More at Chevron’s blog, The Amazon Post, and Daniel Fisher at Forbes has done a great job following the twists and turns of the campaign against Chevron.

In the United States, thankfully, the rule of law still prevails (usually), which makes it a safer place to do business and produce energy.

Author

Senior Communications Advisor
Business Roundtable

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