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Energy Brief: EPA Delays Ozone Standards

Washington Brief

  • The Environmental Protection Agency delayed by a year its requirement for states to comply with its ozone-level standard. (E&E News)
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance four nominees for positions in the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (The Hill)
  • Nearly 6 in 10 registered voters believe the U.S. should have stayed in the Paris agreement, compared to 24 percent who support leaving. (Morning Consult)

Business Brief

  • Russia’s sale of one-fifth of state-owned oil company Rosneft to Qatar and Glencore included a provision that Russia would buy a stake back, according to people familiar with the deal, equating to a loan to help the country with its budget problems. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. electric utilities are falling behind their European peers in reducing carbon emissions and will put investors at risk if they don’t increase their efforts to shift to cleaner energy sources, according to a study commissioned by a group of investment funds. (Financial Times)
  • Oil companies in Texas added about 12,000 jobs from November through April, according to an economist’s estimates. (Houston Chronicle)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
Air & Waste Management Association annual conference 7 a.m.
Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Project conference on energy security in central and eastern Europe 8:45 a.m.
Interior Department Government Agency Procurement Conference 9 a.m.
Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office workshop on biofuels and bioproducts 9 a.m.
Clean Energy Ministerial in Beijing 9 a.m.
House Agriculture Committee hearing on farm bill and agriculture development 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee on the abandoned mine lands program 10 a.m.
House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on infrastructure plan 10 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the National Science Foundation’s budget 10:30 a.m.
House Natural Resources legislative hearing on Indian and Alaskan affairs 2 p.m.
Thursday
Air & Waste Management Association annual conference 7 a.m.
Clean Energy Ministerial in Beijing 9 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Interior Department’s budget 9:30 a.m.
House Natural Resource subcommittee legislative hearing on land reclamation and marine mammal protection 10 a.m.
House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on SNAP technology and modernization 10 a.m.
Hudson Institute panel on strengthening infrastructure 11:30 a.m.
Energy Department Better Buildings’ exchange on sustainable energy communities 1 p.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on forest management roadblocks for wildfire prevention 2 p.m.
Friday
Energy Department course on wind turbine design and construction 8 a.m.
Energy Department stakeholder listening session for the Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium 8 a.m.

 

General

EPA delays ozone rule
Sean Reilly, E&E News

U.S. EPA is giving states an extra year to meet Obama-era ozone regulations. The agency will delay implementation of its 2015 ground-level ozone standard by one year to give states more time to develop air quality plans, Administrator Scott Pruitt announced late today in a move certain to cheer business groups and infuriate environmentalists.

Senate panel approves controversial Interior nominee
Devin Henry, The Hill

A Senate committee on Thursday advanced four key Trump nominees to the Interior and Energy departments and the federal energy regulatory panel. Three of the nominees passed on strong bipartisan votes. But most Democrats opposed David Bernhardt, Trump’s pick to be deputy secretary of the Interior, given his time in the private sector lobbying the agency.

Voters Support Paris Deal, but Are Skeptical of Green Climate Fund
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise last week by pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement — but that doesn’t mean the move was popular. Nearly six in 10 registered voters think the United States should have stayed in the agreement, including 79 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents, according to a Morning Consult/POLITICO survey of 1,999 registered voters conducted June 1-2.

Top U.S. diplomat in China resigns over Trump’s Paris decision
Shannon Vavra, Axios

David Rank, who was serving as chargé d’affaires (Acting U.S. Ambassador) in China, resigned from his post over Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate pact. A State Dept. official tells Axios Rank “made a personal decision,” adding that the dept. thanks him for his “years of dedicated service.”

85 percent of the top science jobs in Trump’s government are without a nominee
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

As of June 6, Trump had announced a nominee for just seven, or 15 percent, of 46 top science posts in the federal government that require Senate confirmation, according to a Post analysis. This failure to fill top science jobs across the federal government has become even more pointed in light of his Paris choice.

Seven States Sue EPA for Failure to Regulate Pesticide
Kate Wheeling, Pacific Standard

Seven states filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday for failing to properly regulate the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, a chemical that has been shown to have adverse effects on brain development in children. In March, EPA head Scott Pruitt decided not to ban the pesticide, calling the science “unresolved.”

Electric Car Sales Are Surging, IEA Reports
Jess Shankleman, Bloomberg News

The number of electric vehicles on the road rocketed to 2 million in 2016 after being virtually non-existent just five years ago, according to the International Energy Agency. Registered plug-in and battery-powered vehicles on roads worldwide rose 60 percent from the year before, according to the Global EV Outlook 2017 report from the Paris-based IEA.

In the ‘Paris of the Appalachians,’ they’re not buying Trump’s climate talk
Todd C. Frankel, The Washington Post

The mayor needed a break, and now he had a cold beer and a shot of whiskey on the table in front of him. His Penguins ball cap was pulled low. His dress shirt was untucked. Bill Peduto was tired after days of firing off defiant tweets, issuing city proclamations and running to speak at rallies and give interviews to media from around the world — generally fighting back with everything he had after President Trump justified pulling the United States out of the Paris climate change pact by saying at the White House late last week, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Oil prices pull back ahead of U.S. inventory data
Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Global oil prices pushed lower Wednesday, amid deepening oversupply concerns after the U.S. energy department again raised oil production estimates. The Energy Information Administration on Tuesday said it expects American shale producers to crank out 9.3 million barrels a day in 2017, a slight increase from its projections in May.

Oil and Natural Gas

Texas oil companies add 12,000 jobs in six-month drilling surge, economist says
Collin Eaton, Houston Chronicle

Oil companies across Texas expanded payrolls by about 12,000 jobs in the six months through April as truckers continued hauling pipes and drilling rigs parts to the Permian Basin, a Texas economist estimates. The influx of oil and gas jobs brought the number of upstream employees in the state up to a total of 204,500 in April, about 3 percent higher than the same month a year ago and the first year-over-year increase since February 2015, according to Karr Ingham, an Amarillo economist who tracks oil industry activity in the so-called Texas Petro Index.

Russia’s Rosneft Stake Sale Came With a Twist: Moscow Always Wanted It Back
Sarah McFarlane and Summer Said, The Wall Street Journal

Russia’s sale of one-fifth of its state-owned oil company to Qatar and commodities giant Glencore last year had an unusual provision: Moscow and Doha agreed Russia would buy a stake back, people familiar with the matter said. Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the $11.5 billion sale of the PAO Rosneft stake in December as a sign of investor confidence in his country.

Long Promised, the Global Market for Natural Gas Has Finally Arrived
Russell Gold and Alison Sider, The Wall Street Journal

One day in March, the Rioja Knutsen tanker, filled with liquefied natural gas, was traveling from the U.S. to Portugal. Suddenly, Mexico’s power company lobbed in a higher bid for its cargo.

Utilities and Infrastructure

US utilities under pressure to cut emissions further
Andrew Ward, Financial Times

US utilities, including American Electric Power and DTE Energy, must intensify efforts to reduce their carbon emissions despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, according to a coalition of investment funds with over $4.5tn of assets under management. A study of the world’s 20 largest electricity producers by market capitalisation found that European utilities, such as Iberdrola of Spain, Enel of Italy and SSE of the UK, were making more progress than US peers in shrinking their carbon footprints.

California regulators weigh whether the state needs more power plants
Ivan Penn, Los Angeles Times

California energy officials are, for the first time, rethinking plans to build expensive natural gas power plants in the face of an electricity glut and growing use of cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced Tuesday that it has put a hold on a $2.2-billion plan to rebuild several old natural gas power plants while it studies clean energy alternatives to meet electricity demands.

Utility Regulators to Scrutinize Eversource Rate Hike Plan
The Associated Press

State utility regulators are taking a closer look at Eversource’s plan to increase Massachusetts electricity rates by nearly $300 million over four years. Evidentiary hearings begin on Wednesday before the Department of Public Utilities.

Renewables

Trump pitched Republican leaders on a solar-paneled border wall
Jonathan Swan, Axios

In the meeting at the White House today with Republican Congressional leaders, President Trump spent some time talking up his latest idea for the border wall. According to 3 people with direct knowledge of the meeting, Trump floated the idea that the wall could be covered in solar panels and the electricity generated used to pay for the cost.

Star Rapper Akon Mulls IPO of Chinese-Funded African Solar Unit
Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg News

Akon, the star rapper and renewable-energy entrepreneur, is considering an initial public offering of his Chinese-funded solar business in Africa to fuel an intercontinental expansion. “That’s definitely a conversation we’ve had with the financial team on how to structure as we move forward,” Akon said in a telephone interview.

Coal

Senators Preparing Bipartisan Bill to Extend Carbon Capture Tax Credit
Iulia Gheorghiu, Morning Consult

A bill that would extend tax credits for carbon capture will soon be introduced, a Senate aide said Tuesday, as lawmakers want to ensure companies retain incentives to invest in the costly technology. The forthcoming measure, co-authored by Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), marks the latest attempt to expand and extend the federal tax credit after last year’s legislative effort failed.

No one is holding breath for Trump-led revival in this Ill. town
Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News

It’s Friday afternoon in May at Terry’s Barber Shop, just hours before the midway and carnival games kick off a block away at the Old King Coal Festival, an annual celebration of the area’s mining heritage that goes back to 1941. Terry Chambers opened his barbershop in the heart of downtown when he moved to town in 1972.

Nuclear

Ga. PSC Delays Nuclear Vote, Asks Attorney General To Step In
Molly Samuel, WABE

A state regulator wants Georgia Power to stop charging its customers for a nuclear power expansion project. But the idea is on hold for now.

Clinton nuclear plant back at full power
Tom Kacich, News-Gazette

The Clinton nuclear plant has returned to service after a refueling and maintenance outage that lasted about 29 days. Exelon Generation Co. crews returned the 30-year-old plant to full power Monday, completing a scheduled outage that began May 8, said Exelon spokesman Brett Nauman.

Climate

California, China sign climate deal after Trump’s Paris exit
Matthew Brown, The Associated Press

With President Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, China and California signed an agreement Tuesday to work together on reducing emissions, as the state’s governor warned that “disaster still looms” without urgent action. Gov. Jerry Brown told The Associated Press at an international clean energy conference in Beijing that Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement will ultimately prove only a temporary setback.

Hawaii first state to enact law in step with Paris Agreement after Trump signals exit
Ariella Phillips, Washington Examiner

Hawaii’s governor on Tuesday signed two bills into law that align with the Paris Agreement after President Trump announced last week the United States would withdraw from it. Hawaii is the first state to enact a law that is in step with the international climate agreement, which calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

French ambassador: Trump climate decision puts U.S. ‘on the wrong side of history’
Anne Gearan, The Washington Post

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is part of “the erosion of the moral and political leadership of the United States,” France’s top diplomat at the United Nations said Tuesday. “America is perceived on this on the wrong side of history,” Ambassador François Delattre told reporters.

A climate chain reaction: Major Greenland melting could devastate crops in Africa
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post

As melting Greenland glaciers continue to pour ice into the Arctic Ocean, we have more than the rising seas to worry about, scientists say. A new study suggests that if it gets large enough, the influx of freshwater from the melting ice sheet could disrupt the flow of a major ocean current system, which in turn could dry out Africa’s Sahel, a narrow region of land stretching from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

States and Cities Compensate for Mr. Trump’s Climate Stupidity
Editorial Board, The New York Times

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris compact on climate change was barely four days old when more than 1,200 governors, mayors and businesses promised to do whatever they could to help the United States meet the climate goals President Barack Obama had committed to in the agreement. In a letter, titled “We Are Still In,” they declared that global warming imposes real and rising costs, while the clean energy economy to which the Paris agreement aspires presents enormous opportunities for American businesses and workers.

Qatar Still Has Many Friends in Energy Markets
Robin M. Mills, Bloomberg View

Oil markets seem impervious to geopolitical risk. As four Arab neighbors imposed an unprecedented embargo on Qatar on Monday, oil prices briefly jumped 1.6 percent before falling back. The fuel to watch, though, is not oil, but gas.

WILD (Act) for Innovation
Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), The Hill

Innovation changes everything. The innovative spirit is transforming wildlife conservation worldwide. National and state wildlife agencies, conservation groups, private technology companies, environmentalists, researchers, farmers and ranchers are all working together to create new solutions to some of our most pressing wildlife management challenges.

Research Reports

Advanced Energy and U.S. National Security
CNA Military Advisory Board

As senior military officers, we view national security broadly, factoring in economic strength, diplomatic prowess, and military capability. Fundamental to this equation is access to affordable and reliable energy.

Natural Gas as a Bridge Fuel
National Regulatory Research Institute

The U.S. natural gas industry has enjoyed a great run over the past eight years. It has contributed to the economy by creating new jobs and significantly reducing households’ and businesses’ energy bills. This was particularly important during the Great Recession when a boost from a major industry prevented further downward spiral of the economy.