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Transportation bills: House and Senate versions have major differences

Click here for complete article > Politico

January 30, 2012

With two months remaining to get a long-term surface transportation bill done, the House and Senate are racing this week to mark up several portions of their dueling legislation. And though the process is just beginning, there are already major rifts between the chambers.

Lawmakers are playing up the similarities in public — the annual funding levels are close enough, they say — and transportation leaders continue to express cautious optimism. But when pressed, senators and representatives are unhappy with a number of major differences, including how the bills are paid for and how long they last…


Ports-to-Plains Alliance: Commercial Traffic Rising Del Rio

Del Rio News Herald

January 26, 2012

Commercial traffic into Mexico from Del Rio continued to increase last year, a sign that the maquiladora industry in Cuidad Acuña has held onto its momentum.

However, the number of personal vehicles heading south dwindled in 2011, after seeing a slight increase in 2010, according to figures released this week by the City of Del Rio.

The month of December saw the greatest decrease of non-commercial traffic with 7.3 percent fewer cars and pickups entering Mexico than in December 2010, the figures show.

Overall, southbound non-commercial traffic was about 1.2 percent less than the prior year, said Margie Montez, the superintendent of the Del Rio International Bridge.

But the category that continues to see the greatest losses is the number of pedestrians who cross into Mexico.

Southbound foot traffic on the bridge plummeted 25 percent in 2011 compared to two years ago, and 5 percent compared to 2010.

"Every year we're seeing a little bit fewer traffic," Montez said.

She attributes the decrease on a variety of factors, including a weakened economy and the lingering affects of a June 2009 mandate requiring passports for all border crossers - even those who routinely make the trip across the border.

She said since then, the numbers have been falling, except for commercial traffic, which increased 11 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.

Jackie Robinson, a city spokeswoman, said security concerns also have impacted travel into Mexico, which has been wracked by drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels in 2006.

"We would be kidding ourselves if we don't think that it does play a role, but I don't think it plays as big a role as it does in other communities along the border," Robinson said.

Eight of the 12 months last year saw decreases in non-commercial traffic, with most of the loss occurring during the last three months of the year: October, November and December.

The amount of foot traffic going to Acuña fluctuated throughout 2011, with some months, such as February experiencing up to 34 percent less traffic.

When compared to 2009 figures, last year's numbers fare even worse. Some months, such as July and May, saw nearly 50 percent fewer people walking across the bridge than in 2010.

"The weather has a lot to do with it," Montez said.

Robinson pointed out that the distance a person has to walk across the Del Rio International Bridge is about 3/4 of a mile.

Montez also said wait times at the bridge checkpoints also are a deterrent.

"We see people paying the toll to cross and then turning back around because the line is all the way down the bridge," she said.

The silver lining, according to city officials, is that commercial traffic is thriving, up 20 percent in 2011 compared to 2009.

"I think over the last five years, they really have been focused on economic development," Robinson said. "We're seeing the result of that as well."

She said more companies have maquiladoras in Acuña than in Piedras Negras, across from Eagle Pass, and Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, combined.

"They now have five industrial parks in the city of Acuña," she said.

Al Arreola Jr., the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce's executive director, agrees with Robinson's assessment.

Arreola said Emerson is the latest company to announce it was investing in a maquiladora in Acuña.

Mexican city officials in September announced the company was investing $20 million in a maquiladora that would develop electronic medical products.

"Acuña gave them a sweetheart deal," Arreola said, adding Del Rio also stands to benefit from the transaction. "They still spend money over here."


The Myth of Oil & Gas Industry Subsidies, Credits & Grants: Understanding Oil & Natural Gas Industry Tax Deductions

The Energy Channel (API)

January 24, 2012

Many people think the oil and natural gas industry receives tax subsidies, which is simply not true. API Tax Policy Advisor Brian Johnson explains the tax deductions the industry uses to recover business costs and expenses.


U.S. Senator Rick Santorum Confirms Attendance at Colorado Election Energy Summit -- February 6, 2012

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is a sponsor for this event and a member of the Consumer Energy Alliance. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance will have some VIP tickets for Alliance members to the event and it will be open to the public. Please contact Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations at 303-586-1787 about availability.

Current Draft Agenda


For Immediate Release *** January 27, 2012

Media Contact: Andrew Browning, (312)768-4736, ABrowning@hbwresources.com

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum Confirms Attendance at Colorado Election Energy Summit

HOUSTON, TX: Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), has partnered with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Colorado Farm Bureau to host the upcoming 2012 Colorado Election Energy Summit being held on February 6, 2012 at the Colorado School of Mines.  The event will be the first in the U.S. presidential race to discuss the importance of responsible energy development for the nation’s economic future and move towards increased energy security. This release not only announces the event, but also welcomes presidential candidate Rick Santorum as a featured, and confirmed, guest.

The Summit will provide a unique opportunity for federal, state, and local officials to discuss current energy issues and how development is transforming the nation and global energy markets. A key highlight will be a town hall meeting where Mr. Santorum, and other invited Republican presidential candidates, will provide thoughtful and in-depth discussions on how responsible energy development is helping move the nation forward.  Media will also be able to engage individual candidates for one-on-one interviews before and after the town hall discussion. CEA President David Holt released the following statement:

“We are excited to announce the attendance of former Senator Rick Santorum and other influential public officials and industry leaders for our upcoming energy summit. Given Mr. Santorum’s years of public service and clear understanding of the importance of developing domestic energy we look forward to hearing his input on this important subject that is driving the nation’s economic recovery”

“This summit has become all the more important in light of President Obama’s remarks in Tuesday’s State of the Union. CEA remains optimistic that we will begin to see more support for a clear and robust U.S. energy strategy – including oil and gas development -- which provides over nine million jobs nationally while promoting our energy independence. We look forward to hosting this event in Colorado, which remains a leader in national energy production”

In commenting on the forum Senator Rick Santorum said: “I am excited to have the opportunity to address the Colorado Election Energy Summit.  Ensuring our nation’s energy security must be among the highest priorities of the next President.  Not only do cheap, abundant supplies of energy allow our economic engine to run, but it is critical to our national security.  It is time we become energy independent so we don’t have to rely on energy from any other country – especially ones that wish to do us harm.  I look forward to addressing my vision for an all-of-the-above energy policy that will utilize the vast and diverse resources at our disposal.”

WHERE:           Colorado School of Mines

                        1500 Illinois Street

                        Golden, CO 80401

 WHEN:             February 6 2012,

                        1:00pm- 5:00pm MST

 RSVP:              Andrew Browning,




Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, comprised of more than 170 affiliate members, including energy consumers and producers, and tens of thousands of consumer advocates, that supports the thoughtful  utilization of energy resources to help ensure improved domestic and global energy security, stable prices for consumers  and balanced energy policy for America.


Senate moves toward agreement on transportation bill

Click here for complete article > Washington Post

January 26, 2012

As House Republicans prepared to release a spending proposal intended to overhaul the federal transportation system, Senate Democrats on Thursday rushed to complete a bipartisan effort to end a stalemate that has undermined transportation programs for almost three years.

The flurry of activity on the Senate side came a day after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that differences between House and Senate proposals presented “a pretty big gulf to overcome” and that it was unlikely a bill would win approval in this election year…


3 House Committees Will Mark Up 5-Year, $260 Billion Bill Next Week  

Click here for complete article > AASTHO

January 27, 2012

Three House of Representatives committees will mark up next week a five-year, $260 billion highway and transit reauthorization bill. The key policy legislative language is expected to be released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Monday or Tuesday, followed by a committee meeting Thursday morning to consider amendments and vote on the bill, the "American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act."

State transportation department executives were briefed on the measure Thursday evening by House T&I Committee staff during a conference call organized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials. Two draft bill summaries circulating on Capitol Hill this week indicate the House measure will include many provisions that state DOTs have long called for…


A brighter energy future? It may be better than you think.

Together, these two articles address the latest data on the United States energy future.  Both point to a future that is better and more secure.  Both indicate the opportunities that Canadian oil provides the United States.

There are several things that are pointed out by the data.  Fossil fuels will be decreasing over time but in 2035 the projects still rely on a 77% supply of fossil fuels.  That will be down from 83% in 2010.

U.S. oil and natural gas production are increasing because of technological improvements.

From 2007 to 2010, U.S. oil production rose from 5.1 million barrels a day (mbd) to 5.5 mbd. By 2020, it will hit 6.7 mbd, projects the EIA.

Canadian oil is not going away.  It can be used to reduce U.S.  imports from the middle east or will be used by China and other Asian customers with no reduction to worldwide greenhouse emissions.  The second article shows that the U.S. could see 100% of its liquid fuel supply domestically and from Canada.

None of this indicates that we do not need to develop renewable sources.  Wind, Solar and biofuels also secure the U.S. energy future.  It is time to promote the development of all these North American resources.


Click here for complete article > Washington Post

January 26, 2012

A week after President Obama denied the application for the Keystone XL pipeline — which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands deposits in Alberta to U.S. refineries along the Gulf of Mexico — it’s time for an energy reality check. What does the future hold? It may be better than you think. That’s one message from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest “Annual Energy Outlook (see below for link),” which projects the supply and demand for fuels through 2035…


What Energy Progress Looks Like

Click here for complete article > Energy Tomorrow Blog

January 26, 2012

…Here’s a chart developed from data in the Energy Information Administration’s early release of its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, in which EIA projects that U.S. liquid fuels supplied by global sources other than Canada (orange) will decrease between now and 2030:…

…Now, take a look at this chart – specifically, at what happens to imports from sources other than Canada:

They disappear! It’s not magic; it’s not a mistake. By 2024, the United States could see 100 percent of its liquid fuel needs supplied domestically (including biofuels) and from Canada….


2012 Annual Energy Outlook (Energy Information Administration)


Senator Mark Udall: Congress, Renew the Production Tax Credit

Senator Udall is a member of the Ports-to-Plains Caucus supporting rural transportation and economic development.


Click here for complete release > U.S. Senator Mark Udall

January 25, 2012

As Congress goes back to work this week, I'm renewing my call to extend the critical renewable energy tax credits, like the production tax credit for wind, set to expire at the end of 2012. In these tough budget times, we owe it to taxpayers to enact policies that have the greatest potential return on investment and can create good-paying American jobs. Renewable energy tax credits make sense for Colorado and America's bottom line – and that's why I support them…