Energy Brief: EPA Budget Request Would Hurt Coordination With States

Washington Brief

  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s resources to help states respond to emergencies would be eliminated or significantly reduced under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the agency. (The New York Times)
  • The EPA granted Flint, Mich., $100 million for repairs to its drinking water system. (CNN)
  • Donald Trump Jr. asked Jason Hairston, a former San Francisco 49ers linebacker and founder of hunting gear company Kuiu, to serve as a liaison between the Department of the Interior, the White House, and sportsmen’s groups. (Politico)

Business Brief

  • Beijing shut down the last coal-fired power plant in the city as part of an effort to reduce pollution. (South China Morning Post)
  • A Nigerian court reversed a decision to seize a major oilfield controlled by Royal Dutch Shell and Eni. (Financial Times)
  • A Japanese court found that the country’s government was negligent in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. (The Wall Street Journal)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
No events scheduled
Tuesday
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Commitee hearing on infrastructure 10 a.m.
House T&I subcommittee hearing on railroads 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on raw materials for infrastructure projects 10 a.m.
House Science subcommittee hearing on National Science Foundation 10 a.m.
Brookings discussion on solar power in China, U.S. 10 a.m.
CSIS discussion on Australian, Indonesian energy 1:30 p.m.
House Oversight subcommittee hearing on BSEE 2 p.m.
Wednesday
American Coalition for Ethanol D.C. fly-in 8:30 a.m.
House Energy & Commerce subcommittee markup of Ozone Standards Implementation Act 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittees hearing on Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority 10 a.m.
Environmental Law Institute climate policy outlook 12:30 p.m.
Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on conflict minerals 2:30 p.m.
Thursday
International Conference on Climate Change 7:30 a.m.
American Coalition for Ethanol D.C. fly-in 8:30 a.m.
Bipartisan Energy Center on the North American energy trade 2 p.m.
Chevron CEO John S. Watson speaks to Economic Club of D.C. 6 p.m.
Georgetown University Library discussion on energy policy 6 p.m.
Friday
International Conference on Climate Change 7:30 a.m.

 

A Message from American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers:

More than half of the components in the smart phones, tablets and laptops that connect us start with petrochemicals. Beyond making the fuels that power the world, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers provide the building-blocks for high-tech innovations that make our modern lifestyles possible. Learn about how American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers are making our lives easier, healthier, safer and more productive at afpm.org. At AFPM, we make progress.

General

Donald Trump Jr. taps hunting pal for Interior liaison
Esther Whieldon, Politico

Donald Trump Jr. is still exerting influence at the Interior Department and has tapped a hunting buddy to serve as a go-between for the agency, sportmen’s groups and his father’s White House. President Donald Trump’s eldest son is an avid hunter and played a key role in picking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is also a hunter and fisherman.

With E.P.A. Cuts, States Would Lose Help in Emergencies
Coral Davenport, The New York Times

The resources to respond to those emergencies, along with much of the other state-level work performed by the agency, would be eliminated or sharply reduced by President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018, which cuts the E.P.A. by 31 percent, more than any other agency. While the agency may be known for sweeping regulations to curb climate change, increase auto fuel efficiency or mandate smokestack controls, the agency’s bread and butter is more prosaic.

EPA grants $100M for Flint water system repairs
Rene Marsh, CNN

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it has awarded Michigan $100 million to make upgrades to Flint’s drinking water system, which became contaminated with lead and other toxins after the city switched water sources as a cost-cutting measure. Last May, former President Barack Obama pressed Congress for emergency funds for the city, which included the $100 million to repair Flint’s water system. In December, Congress passed water infrastructure legislation to provide the money, which Obama promptly signed.

Dems ask Pruitt to ‘correct the record’ on personal email use
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Senate Democrats are asking Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt to fix what they say were incorrect answers he gave during his confirmation process. The five Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), sent Pruitt a letter Friday asking him to “correct the record” on numerous issues where they said he wasn’t entirely truthful.

Exxon Mobil hits back hard at New York AG over Tillerson’s email alias
Joh Siciliano, Washington Examiner

Exxon Mobil attorneys pushed back hard against Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in court, accusing him of manufacturing an email scandal involving Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to gain publicity for his failing climate change investigation, according to court documents filed in New York. “To date, Exxon Mobil has produced more than 2.4 million pages of documents in connection with the [New York attorney general’s] climate-change investigation and has worked diligently to respond to [Schneiderman’s] extraordinarily broad and, in our view, often unreasonable and improper, investigative demands,” the lawyers said in a letter to the Supreme Court of New York Thursday night.

Oil and Natural Gas

Shell and Eni regain control of oilfield seized by Nigeria
Andrew Ward and Chika Oduah, Financial Times

One of Africa’s biggest oil prospects is back in the hands of Royal Dutch Shell and Eni after a Nigerian court reversed an earlier decision to seize an offshore exploration and production block that has been the focus of corruption allegations. The ruling by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday followed an appeal by Shell and Eni against the same court’s order in January for the pair to temporarily forfeit control of a highly prized deepwater licence called OPL 245.

Oil Drops as U.S. Drilling Growth Threatens to Counter OPEC Cuts
Heesu Lee and Rakteem Katakey, Bloomberg News

Oil fell as U.S. drilling continued to rise, undermining the potential for even an extended OPEC output-reduction deal to rebalance the market. Futures lost as much as 1.6 percent in New York after gaining 0.6 percent last week.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Arizona Public Service details how it spent $10 million on elections
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Claiming a “commitment to transparency,” the state’s largest electric utility on Friday detailed more than $10 million it spent in the last two years to directly and indirectly influence elections and gave to other organizations to lobby. But forget about getting any information about the 2014 race — information one utility regulator claims will show whether Arizona Public Service and parent Pinnacle West Capital Corp. helped elect two of his colleagues.

The politics of fixing FERC
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

President Trump has been vetting candidates to fill key Republican spots for a top federal energy watchdog agency that will be key to meeting his infrastructure goals, although it is not clear how much of a priority it is for him or whether his picks would strike the right balance between states’ and the federal government’s priorities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was forced to effectively shut down after former Chairman Norman Bay, an Obama appointee, resigned abruptly, leaving the agency without a necessary three-person quorum to carry out its tasks.

Renewables

Officials Mark Completion of Tribal Land Solar Power Plant
Ken Ritter, The Associated Press

Elected officials and tribal leaders helped Friday to power up a sun-to-electricity array that, in 2012, was the first utility-scale power production plant approved by the U.S. Interior Department on Indian land. The 250 megawatts generated at the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, about 30 miles north of Las Vegas, will go to Los Angeles, where it could power 111,000 homes, said Georges Antoun, an executive with project owner First Solar Inc.

Elon Musk, meet Port Augusta: four renewable energy projects ready to go
Max Opray, The Guardian

When it comes to South Australia’s radical plans for energy storage to support its power network, all roads lead to Port Augusta – or all transmission lines, that is. Proponents of projects that include energy storage have converged on this small outback city perched on the top of the Spencer Gulf – but why here and why now?

Solar is South Sioux City’s latest investment in renewables
Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal

Lance Hedquist sees a bright future for renewable energy in South Sioux City. The latest shining example of the northeast Nebraska town’s increasing effort to reduce its carbon footprint is a 21-acre solar park south of the city alongside C Avenue comprised of more than 1,200 solar panels.

Labor warned wind farms would destabilise energy grid in 2009
Sheradyn Holderhead, The Advertiser

The State Government was warned eight years ago that generating more than 20 per cent of South Australia’s electricity using wind farms would destabilise the grid, documents reveal. Senator Nick Xenophon said it proved the state’s power crisis — which prompted Premier Jay Weatherill to announce a $550 million taxpayer-funded energy plan — was “completely avoidable”.

Coal

Trump advisers want concessions for coal if U.S. stays in climate pact
Andrew Restuccia, Politico

Trump administration officials have told lobbyists and European diplomats that the U.S. won’t stay in the nearly 200-nation Paris climate change agreement unless it can secure wins for the fossil fuel industry, according to three people familiar with the discussions. In a series of recent conversations with industry groups and European officials, Trump advisers have said the White House decision on the Paris deal could hinge on international willingness to come up with a strategy to commercialize and deploy technologies that will reduce emissions from fossil fuels.

Beijing shuts down its last coal-fired power plant as part of bid to clear air
Chen Binglin, South China Morning Post

The last coal-fired power plant in Beijing stopped operating on Saturday with the shutdown of its last remaining generators, Xinhua reported. The historic moment was recorded by cameras as an operator in a blue uniform pressed a red stop button for the fourth steam-turbine array.

Despite Pollution, Coal Plant Is Cleared to Reopen in New Delhi
Nida Najar, The New York Times

The 43-year-old Badarpur Thermal Power Station, a coal-burning plant on the edge of what has been called the world’s most polluted city, New Delhi, was quietly cleared to resume pumping smoke into the air last week. In Parliament, around the same time, India’s environment minister dismissed a major study of global air pollution that found that high levels of particles in India cause more than a million people to die prematurely each year.

Battle over coal royalties continues in court
Heather Richards, Casper Star-Tribune

The Powder River Basin Resource Council will join a court case in favor of a federal coal rule that it argues protects royalty payments to the American taxpayer for coal mined on public land. Cloud Peak Energy, a Gillette-based coal company, sued the Department of the Interior over a new federal coal valuation rule, penned by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

Coal in the Trump age: Industry has a pulse, but prospects for jobs are weak
Steven Mufson, The Washington Post

The battered U.S. coal industry is showing flickering signs of life. Yet the prognosis for Big Coal remains dim. Coal prices are about double what they were a year ago.

Nuclear

In a First, Japanese Court Blames Government in Fukushima Disaster
Mayumi Negishi, The Wall Street Journal

A court has found for the first time that the Japanese government was negligent in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s triple meltdown in March 2011 and owes damages to people who fled the radiation.

Climate

Statoil Says Business Resilient to Tougher Climate-Change Rules
Sarah Kent, The Wall Street Journal

Norway’s state-owned oil giant Statoil ASA said it was rebalancing its business model so far toward renewables and cleaner fossil fuels that the company’s value would rise even if the world’s governments took drastic actions to limit carbon emissions.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Compounding the Risk for Coal Miners
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

President Trump’s vow to bring back the coal industry’s heyday is a delusion. But it’s already inspiring Republican legislatures in Appalachia to resurrect a grim element of those boom times: loose safety laws that endangered miners’ lives and protected owners’ profits.

From America To Australia: Liberate Resources
Robert Bradley Jr., Forbes

The Trump Administration is rolling back counterproductive environmental and manufacturing regulations that were strong-armed into place by the last administration. At the Environmental Protection Agency, the focus is back on clean air and clean water.

A Message from American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers:

By 2020, an estimated 18 billion devices will be wirelessly linked together by the “Internet of Things,” a world made possible by petrochemicals and powered by fuels provided by American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. Learn about how American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers are making our lives easier, healthier, safer and more productive at afpm.org. At AFPM, we make progress.

Research Reports

Major advance of South Georgia glaciers during the Antarctic Cold Reversal following extensive sub-Antarctic glaciation
Alastair G.C. Graham et al., Nature Communications

The history of glaciations on Southern Hemisphere sub-polar islands is unclear. Debate surrounds the extent and timing of the last glacial advance and termination on sub-Antarctic South Georgia in particular.