Energy Brief: EPA Expected to Propose Repealing, Replacing Clean Power Plan

Government Brief

  • The Environmental Protection Agency will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan, with plans to solicit input on replacing the Obama administration’s key regulation for fighting climate change, according to an internal EPA document. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March to launch the EPA’s review of the rule, which intends to cut carbon emissions from power plants. (Reuters)
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced legislation that would use excess funds meant for mine cleanups and borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay for pension checks for thousands of coal miners and their families. West Virginia lawmakers on Capitol Hill, along with lawmakers from other coal-producing states, are backing the effort to fund the United Mine Workers of America pension program, which is in danger of insolvency. (The Hill)
  • New York officials proposed four new sites for offshore wind energy projects to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, requesting that the regulators expedite the approval process. The proposals are part of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal to generate 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030. (The Associated Press)

Business Brief

  • The International Energy Agency said renewable energy accounted for two-thirds of new power added to the world’s grids last year, and solar power replaced coal as the fastest-growing source of power generation. The report attributed the net growth in solar to falling prices and government policies, particularly in China, which accounted for almost half of the solar panels put online. (The Guardian)
  • Japan’s nuclear safety watchdog issued a draft clearance approval for the first two reactors for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. since the 2011 nuclear crisis at its Fukushima complex. The initial safety approval for the reactors, part of seven units planned at the large northern Japan site, marked the first step forward for Tepco to resume operations. (The Japan Times)
  • Royal Dutch Shell canceled the $900 million sale of its stake in a Thai gas field after negotiations with Bangkok took too long. Shell had announced its divestment in January as part of a wider program to reduce debt, but the company and the Thai government could not agree on the treatment of share sales within the time frame that Shell and Kuwait’s state oil company wanted for the sale. (Financial Times)

Chart Review

America’s Clean Energy Revolution
Natural Resources Defense Council

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

GEOEXPO+ hosted by the Geothermal Energy Association 9 a.m.
House Natural Resources Committee markup of amendments to the Endangered Species Act, other bills 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on nominations of EPA, NRC, other officials 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee legislative hearing on 3 tribal bills 2 p.m.
EPIC forum on what Americans think of energy and climate policy 5:30 p.m.
2017 Conservative Clean Energy Summit reception 6 p.m.
2017 Conservative Clean Energy Summit 9 a.m.
Integrated energy network discussion hosted by CSIS 9:30 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on powering America 10 a.m.
CSIS discussion of hurricane impacts 10 a.m.
LNG in Latin America event hosted by the Atlantic Council 12 p.m.
Environmental Law Institute event on reversing policy 12:30 p.m.
Arizona Energy Futures Conference 9 a.m.
2017 Veterans In Energy Forum 9 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing on reducing industrial energy costs 11 a.m.

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Trump EPA to propose repealing Obama’s climate regulation – document
Valerie Volcovici, Reuters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan – the Obama administration’s centerpiece regulation to fight climate change – and plans to solicit input on a rule to replace it, according to an EPA document seen by Reuters. The decision marks the agency’s first formal step to sweep away the rule intended to cut carbon emissions from power plants, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March launching the EPA’s review.

A big-money Catholic group just said it’s yanking all of its cash out of fossil fuels
Anmar Frangoul, CNBC

A coalition of 40 Catholic institutions on Tuesday announced a decision to pull their money from — or block future investment in — fossil fuels. The Global Catholic Climate Movement called it the biggest collective announcement of divestment by Catholic organizations ever.

Barrasso says ‘no’ to joining Trump team
Manuel Quiñones, E&E News

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is quashing talk of joining the Trump administration as secretary of Health and Human Services.

Oil prices dip on doubts that recent rally will last
Libby George, Reuters

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, pulled down by caution that a rally that lasted for most of the third quarter would not extend through the last three months of the year. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $50.10 per barrel at 0843 GMT, down 32 cents from their last close.

Oil and Natural Gas

Shell cancels $900m Thai gas sale after slow pace in Bangkok talks
Edward White, Financial Times

Royal Dutch Shell has cancelled the $900m sale of its stake in a Thai gas field to Kuwait’s state oil company after negotiations with Bangkok over the deal took too long. The oil giant announced the divestment of its stake in the Bongkot gas field in Thailand to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company in January as part of a wider debt-reduction program.

Fracking ‘cannot and will not take place in Scotland,’ energy minister says
Anmar Frangoul, CNBC

Scotland’s energy minister has said that fracking “cannot and will not take place in Scotland.” Paul Wheelhouse said Tuesday that the Scottish government had a “moral responsibility to tackle climate change and an economic responsibility to prepare Scotland for new low carbon opportunities.”

Fake Saudi Aramco website surfaces
Anjli Raval, Financial Times

Political interference and a lack of transparency are potential risks investors are preparing for as Saudi Arabia plans to list shares in state-owned energy giant Saudi Aramco. One unforeseen hazard, however, is the emergence of a copycat website for the company.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Perry accused of ‘crying wolf’ on grid threats
Peter Behr, E&E News

The Department of Energy’s notice of proposed rulemaking, which it titles the “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule,” includes the subtitle “NERC Warns That Premature Retirements of Fuel-Secure Generation Threaten the Reliability and Resiliency of the Bulk Power System.” However, it makes no claim of a grid in crisis.

PPL Electric Utilities says more utilities have signed on to quicker power-restoration program
Anthony Salamone, The Morning Call

PPL Electric Utilities said Tuesday additional companies have been added to an initiative designed to hasten power restoration. Some 20 utilities have committed to Regional Equipment Sharing for Transmission Outage Restoration, aka Restore, PPL Electric said in a news release.


Time to shine: Solar power is fastest-growing source of new energy
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide last year, outstripping the growth in all other forms of power generation for the first time and leading experts to hail a “new era”. Renewable energy accounted for two-thirds of new power added to the world’s grids in 2016, the International Energy Agency said, but the group found solar was the technology that shone brightest.

NY officials seek to expand offshore wind energy projects
The Associated Press

New York officials are seeking to expand offshore wind generation in the Atlantic Ocean. The state has proposed four new sites for wind energy projects to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

U.S. Tax Reforms Would Leave Renewable Energy Out in the Cold
Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg

The prospects for a broad tax reform with lower corporate rates has excited business leaders and boosted the stock market — except for renewable energy. Tax reform “will make renewables more expensive,” Keith Martin, a partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said in an interview Tuesday at Infocast’s Solar Connect conference in San Diego.

Saudi Arabia Gets Cheapest Bids for Solar Power in Auction
Anthony Dipaola, Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia received offers to supply solar electricity for the cheapest prices ever recorded, marking the start of a $50 billion program to diversify the oil producer’s domestic energy supplies away from fossil fuels. The energy ministry said Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Electricite de France SA bid to supply power from a 300-megawatt photovoltaic plant for as little as 6.69736 halalas a kilowatt hour, or 1.79 cents, according to a webcast of the bid-opening ceremony on Tuesday in Riyadh.

‘Speculative frenzy’ over electric cars and battery tech as investors mull lithium futures
Ryan Browne, CNBC

Governments and car manufacturers alike have taken steps to electrify fleets and further phase out the combustion engine. In turn, a number of traders now believe lithium to be a high-return investment as demand soars.


Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Coal-country lawmakers launched a new effort Tuesday to pass legislation to shore up pensions for thousands of coal miners and their families. The bipartisan group led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a new bill that would use excess funds meant for mine cleanups and borrow some general Treasury money to pay for pension checks.


Tepco secures first reactor safety certifications since Fukushima disaster
The Japan Times

Two reactors on the Sea of Japan coast in Niigata Prefecture, run by the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, cleared government safety standards on Wednesday, becoming the first of the utility’s idled units to pass tightened screening. The Nuclear Regulation Authority endorsed a draft document that serves as certification that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Nos. 6 and 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station have met the new, stricter safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Legislators Grill CEO of Public Co-Owner of Nuclear Debacle
Seanna Adcox, The Associated Press

The CEO of South Carolina’s state-owned utility is being scrutinized by legislators investigating the failure of a nuclear power project the company co-owned. The panel previously grilled executives of South Carolina Electric & Gas, the majority owner of the scuttled project at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia.


Competitive Enterprise Institute sues State Department for climate change communications of Obama officials
Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed suit Tuesday against the State Department seeking records of conversations involving Obama administration officials who worked on the Paris international climate change accord. The free-market think tank said it filed a Freedom of Information Act request, or FOIA, with the State Department on Aug. 31 to obtain correspondence between a pair of former Obama officials and two environmental groups.

This Is How A Bogus Climate Story Becomes Unstoppable On Social Media
Zahra Hirji and Lam Thuy Vo, BuzzFeed News

A British newspaper admitted that a controversial climate article from February was misleading and inaccurate. The story’s claims have received at least 752,300 shares, likes, comments, or other interactions on social media.

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Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Undermining the Rule of Law at the E.P.A.
David Uhlmann, The New York Times

In the more than seven months since he became administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt has been on a reckless mission to dismantle public health safeguards and environmental protections. Mr. Pruitt’s E.P.A. wants to postpone or roll back dozens of rules that save lives and provide clean air and water, including efforts by the Obama administration to combat climate change and to protect rivers and streams from pollution.

A law to eliminate federal subsidies and wasteful spending that nobody will even introduce
Cameron Smith, Washington Examiner

Environmentalists should want to update the law because it protects sensitive habitats. Fiscal conservatives should support the modernization because the law eliminates wasteful federal spending and subsidies.

‘Price Gouging’ After a Disaster Is Good for the Public
Donald Boudreaux, The Wall Street Journal

That’s because high prices are an essential way to ensure that resources get where they are desperately needed. Imposing artificially low prices creates shortages of vital supplies and makes it harder for people to recover from disasters.

Research Reports

Locked Out: The Cost of Speculation on Oil and Gas Leases on Federal Land
Taxpayers for Common Sense

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within the Department of the Interior (DOI) manages more than 750 million acres of mineral estate in the U.S. The BLM leasing rules need to better reflect the value of holding federal land and minimize how much is held without production.