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Energy Brief: CPP Supporters Push for Remand of Lawsuit

Washington Brief

  • Environmentalists called for the remand the Clean Power Plan by the Department of Justice instead of leaving it on freeze while the Trump administration evaluates it. (The Hill)
  • Senate Republicans are pushing for a vote on a new bill that would eliminate a seasonal ethanol restriction imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. (The Washington Examiner)
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao teased out a preview of a trillion dollar infrastructure plan from the Trump administration at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event. (The Washington Post)

Business Brief

  • Russia and Saudi Arabia’s self-imposed oil supply cuts were extended into 2018, yielding a growth in energy stock and crude oil prices. (The New York Times)
  • Bankrupt Westinghouse struck an interim agreement with Southern Co. to turn over its Georgia nuclear plant, which is currently under construction. Work will continue on the plant during negotiations, as Westinghouse goes through bankruptcy court. (E&E News)
  • As more Chinese coal plants are built, a study shows the country will overtake U.S. coal production in “clean coal” by investing in higher standards for plants and emission reduction technology. (Vox)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 9 a.m.
New York State Public Service Commissioner Diane X. Burman speaks at AGA 12 p.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 1 p.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on leveraging federal funding for infrastructure 3:15 p.m.
Harvard Business School Club of D.C. discussion on investment in energy 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Murkowski, Faison discuss energy at ACCF 8:30 a.m.
Greentech Solar Summit 8:45 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 9 a.m.
Senate Homeland Security Committee meeting on regulatory reform bills 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on infrastructure 10 a.m.
Perdue testifies to House Agriculture Committee 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on rigs to reefs program 10 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 1 p.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on wildfire management 2 p.m.
Thursday
Greentech Solar Summit 9:30 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on nomination of deputy Interior secretary 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on water rights bills 10 a.m.
House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on water quality 10 a.m.
Environmental Law Institute discussion on compensatory mitigation 12 p.m.
Book talk on “Hot, Hungry Planet” by Lisa Palmer 4 p.m.
Pruitt discusses “Returning to EPA Originalism” 5 p.m.
Friday
NCAC-USAEE event on horizontal wells 12 p.m.

 

General

Senate Republicans urge vote on pro-ethanol bill
John Siciliano, The Washington Examiner

Republican lawmakers from corn-producing states are hoping to get a vote on a pro-ethanol bill as soon as possible after striking a deal ahead of last week’s failed repeal of the Obama administration’s methane rule on oil and natural gas drillers.

Rick Perry backs President Trump on Comey’s firing
KHOU

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry joined researchers at the DeBakey VA Medical Center Monday to talk about how big data can help improve healthcare for veterans. The goal is to use supercomputers to process data on genomes of veterans. To find new cures and better treatments. Perry also weighed in on the debate over the firing of FBI director James Comey.

Will Scalia’s dictionary haunt Trump’s WOTUS overhaul?
Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had to decide in 2006 which wetlands and waterways make up the “waters of the U.S.” protected by the Clean Water Act, he reached for his trusty Webster’s New International Dictionary: Second Edition. The dictionary, which the late conservative icon loved so much it appears in his official Supreme Court portrait, was the basis for Scalia’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States, concluding that Clean Water Act protection extends only to relatively permanent surface waters and wetlands connected to larger water bodies.

Senate Panel to Consider Bill Affecting ‘Virtually Every Major Regulation’
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

After blocking 13 of former President Barack Obama’s regulations under the Congressional Review Act, lawmakers are considering bills that could make it harder for the government to impose new regulations in the future. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a markup Wednesday on several bills that would impose greater requirements on agencies’ rules.

Former Pentagon chief: Arctic drilling order could threaten security
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta says President Trump’s executive order to expand offshore drilling could threaten national security. Writing on CNN, Panetta, who led the Pentagon under former President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2013, took aim particularly at drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

Dow jumps 100 points as Cisco leads; S&P and Nasdaq hit record highs
Fred Imbert, CNBC

The S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent, with energy advancing more than 1 percent to lead advancers. Energy received a boost from rising oil prices.

OPEC Prolonging Cut Would Achieve Mission to Clear Oil Glut
Grant Smith, Bloomberg News

The world’s two biggest oil exporters seem to have finally figured out how to eliminate a global surplus that’s kept crude prices in check for almost three years. Saudi Arabia and Russia said in Beijing on Monday they favor prolonging this year’s oil curbs to the first quarter of 2018.

Oil and Natural Gas

As Their Clout Wanes, Saudi Arabia and Russia Extend Oil Production Cuts
Stanley Reed, The New York Times

In the face of flagging prices, the world’s two biggest oil exporters agreed on Monday to extend production cuts for several more months, sending the price of crude soaring. Major oil-producing nations have struggled in recent months to bolster prices, grappling with plenty of unsold inventory as well as longer-term trends of improving energy efficiency and greater amounts of renewable power.

Lawmakers push back against Trump offshore drilling review
Devin Henry, The Hill

More than 100 members of Congress are urging the Trump administration not to open up the Atlantic or Pacific oceans for oil and gas drilling as part of the Interior Department’s review of federal offshore policies. In a letter released on Monday, the members said drilling in the Atlantic or the Pacific would imperil local economies based on fishing and tourism, which they said would both be threatened by the effects of a potential oil spill.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Trump to outline ‘vision’ for infrastructure package in coming weeks, Cabinet official says
John Wagner, The Washington Post

President Trump will unveil his “vision” in the “next several weeks” of an infrastructure package that relies heavily on state, local and private dollars to make good on a promised $1 trillion in new investments over the coming decade, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday. Trump’s pledge to rebuild the country’s roads, bridges and airports was a key campaign promise that has been on the back burner in the early stages of his presidency as he’s pursued health-care legislation and outlined a tax-cut package, both of which remain a long way from completion.

More changes proposed for state utilities commission
Jeff McDonald, The San Diego Union-Tribune

More changes may be coming to the California Public Utilities Commission, the sprawling regulatory agency that has been under criminal investigation for nearly three years over backchannel dealings with power company executives. The revised state budget that Gov. Jerry Brown released last week contains provisions that would transfer certain responsibilities away from the utilities commission, which currently regulates everything from telecommunications and passenger shuttles to water and electricity.

Renewables

Solar, Wind Industries Pitch Job Growth to New Administration
Rebecca Kern, Bloomberg News

The solar and wind industries are pushing a message they think sells well even with an administration fixed on helping fossil fuels: Renewable energy creates jobs. Solar and wind are among fastest growing sectors in the economy, and the trend is projected to continue, the renewable industries say.

Energy investors ‘underwhelmed’ by UK renewables market
Jillian Ambrose, The Telegraph

Energy investors are underwhelmed by the UK renewable energy market due to a vacuum in policy direction for the industry’s future. EY’s latest attractiveness index has ranked the UK market in the top ten countries globally for new investment – but the advisory firm said the move up from 14th place last year follows major blows in other countries, rather than progress in the UK.

Coal

By 2020, every Chinese coal plant will be more efficient than every US coal plant
David Roberts, Vox

President Trump and his administration have claimed that the Paris climate accord is a “bad deal” because it requires much more of the US than of China. This reflects an enduring conservative paranoia that the Chinese are getting one over on us.

Coal to be India’s energy mainstay for next 30 years
Sudarshan Varadhan, Reuters

Coal will remain India’s main energy source for the next three decades although its share will gradually fall as the country pushes renewable power generation, according to a government report seen by Reuters.

Trump’s rollback of environmental rules will fail to bring back coal, report says
Mark Hand, ThinkProgress

Rolling back environmental regulations, as the Trump administration frantically sought to do during its first 100 days, will not “materially improve” economic conditions in the nation’s coal communities, according to the report.

In trying to look tough on trade, Trump hurts coal
Benjamin Storrow, E&E News

Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to revive coal and renegotiate America’s trade deals. But in seeking to fulfill one pledge, he may have unwittingly hampered another.

Nuclear

Westinghouse relinquishes control of Vogtle project
Kristi Swartz, E&E News

Southern Co. will take over for bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Co. to finish its nuclear project in Georgia, according to an agreement struck late Friday night. Southern’s nuclear unit and Georgia Power Co. subsidiary will become the main contractor for the Plant Vogtle expansion project, which is being built with Westinghouse’s AP1000 technology.

Climate

EPA climate rule supporters want court to drop lawsuit
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Supporters of the Obama administration’s climate change rule for power plants want a federal court to send the regulation back to the Environmental Protection Agency and let it consider changes. Environmentalists and renewable energy advocates say sending the Clean Power Plan back to the EPA — what is called a “remand” — is preferable to freezing the case indefinitely while the Trump administration figures out what to do with it.

A Strong Case Against a Pesticide Does Not Faze E.P.A. Under Trump
Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times

Some of the most compelling evidence linking a widely used pesticide to developmental problems in children stems from what scientists call a “natural” experiment. Though in this case, there was nothing natural about it.

Trump country is flooding, and climate ideas are shifting
Erika Bolstad, E&E News

The first priority was, of course, keeping everyone safe, as floodwaters got so high that city crews stationed a canoe to navigate one of the lower downtown streets earlier in May. Reopening the riverboat casino came a close second in this Mississippi River town 25 miles north of St. Louis, between the confluence of the Illinois and Missouri rivers.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Can Carbon Pricing Help Align Energy Markets and State Policy?
Brad Jones, Morning Consult

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently led a two-day industry discussion that could come to represent a turning point in how we address carbon reduction by energy producers. The technical conference brought together state regulators, generators, economists, consumer watchdogs and environmental advocates to discuss the effect that state renewable policies are having on competitive energy markets.

Donald Trump’s puzzling war on the Great Lakes
Howard Learner and Mary Gade, Milwaukee Jornal Sentinel

President Donald Trump won the 2016 election in Wisconsin and several Great Lakes states, but his Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is assaulting Great Lakes protection and restoration. Slashing funding for the sensible Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million annually to $0. Rolling back Clean Water Act standards that protect safe, clean drinking water. Potentially closing the U.S. EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, which includes the Great Lakes National Program Office, and transferring its staff to Kansas.

Infrastructure bank must drop secrecy
Toronto Sun

The Opposition in Ottawa is drawing attention to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s costly infrastructure bank. And Canadians are scratching their heads trying to figure out what it’s about. Is this a government boondoggle waiting to happen?

Research Reports

Everything You Think You Know About Coal in China Is Wrong
Melanie Hart et al., The Center for American Progress

China’s energy markets send mixed signals about the nation’s policy intentions and emissions trajectory. Renewable energy analysts tend to focus on China’s massive renewable expansion and view the nation as a global clean energy leader; coal proponents and climate skeptics are more likely to focus on the number of coal plants in China—both in operation and under construction—and claim its climate rhetoric is more flash than substance.

Impacts and mitigation of excess diesel-related NOx emissions in 11 major vehicle markets
Susan Anenberg et al., Nature

Vehicle emissions contribute to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and tropospheric ozone air pollution, affecting human health crop yields and climate worldwide. On-road diesel vehicles produce approximately 20 per cent of global anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are key PM2.5 and ozone precursors. Regulated NOx emission limits in leading markets have been progressively tightened, but current diesel vehicles emit far more NOx under real-world operating conditions than during laboratory certification testing.