Energy Brief: EPA Great Lakes Chief Slams ‘Speculation’ About Office Closing

Washington Brief

  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s acting director for the Great Lakes region slammed rumors that the regional office could be shut down in a memo to employees, calling it “pure speculation.” (Washington Examiner)
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. restated its support for the Paris climate agreement in a letter to the White House, solicited by White House energy adviser G. David Banks. (Bloomberg News)
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed legislation that rolls back a 2003 tax credit for zero-emission electricity. (The Associated Press)

Business Brief

  • Two methane leaks at a BP oil well in Alaska have been brought under control. (The New York Times)
  • The state of Alaska plans to apply today for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a $40-45 billion pipeline and natural gas export projects on the North Slope. (E&E News)
  • The Blackstone Group reached a deal to buy EagleClaw Midstream Ventures, a major West Texas pipeline operator, for about $2 billion. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
Cheryl LaFleur speaks at Federalist Society event 12 p.m.
Atlantic Council event on global energy architecture 12 p.m.
Energy Storage Association annual conference 12 p.m.
University of California event on behavior, energy, climate change 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Atlantic Council event on energy innovation in the Middle East 9 a.m.
Energy Storage Association annual conference 9 a.m.
Brookings Institution event on carbon pricing 2 p.m.
International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum 2 p.m.
Thursday
International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum 8:30 a.m.
Energy Storage Association annual conference 9 a.m.
Texas conference focused on creating smart cities 9 a.m.
Texas Electric Power conference 9 a.m.
Aspen Institute event on natural resource economies 11:30 a.m.
U.S. Energy Association event on carbon capture and storage 12 p.m.
Friday
SAIS conference on women and climate change 8 a.m.
International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum 8:30 a.m.
Texas Electric Power conference 8:30 a.m.
Texas conference focused on creating smart cities 9 a.m.
John Holdren speaks at AAAS 5:30 p.m.

 

General

EPA region chief slams ‘rumors’ of Great Lakes office closure
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The Environmental Protection Agency came out strongly on Monday against “rumors” in the media that it is poised to close its regional Great Lakes office in Chicago to meet President Trump’s budget cuts. A memo circulated to staff by EPA Region 5 acting director Robert Kaplan called the news stories “rumors” and “pure speculation,” which “undermine our ability to communicate with the public the real information we have.”

City could lose its EPA regional office
Michael Sneed, Chicago Sun-Times

Sneed hears President Trump’s plan to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency workforce may include the closing of the EPA regional branch office in Chicago. The office could be consolidated with one in Kansas, according to a city source who’s plugged in to federal-government happenings.

‘I take responsibility’ — rogue Badlands tweeter
Kevin Bogardus and Emily Yehle, E&E

A former Badlands National Park seasonal employee has confessed to setting off a social media storm with a series of unauthorized tweets on climate change. Just days into the Trump administration, the South Dakota park’s Twitter account went viral as it made several posts sharing facts on carbon emissions and ocean acidity.

This Man Is Spending Millions to Break Elon Musk’s Trump Ties
Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg News

The day Donald Trump was elected President, Doug Derwin came into a lot of money. Derwin is a lawyer turned venture capitalist, and he’d cashed in on a successful investment.

Oil and Natural Gas

BP Gas Leak Is Under Control in Alaska Oil Field
Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

A damaged BP oil and natural gas well that had been venting gas vapors on Alaska’s remote North Slope since Friday morning has been brought under control, the company and state officials said on Monday. No injuries or harm to wildlife were reported, and apparently only a limited amount of oil sprayed with the gas out of the well.

Alaska brings ambitious LNG export project to FERC
Margaret Kriz Hobson, E&E

The state of Alaska plans to submit an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today for construction of a $40 billion to $45 billion pipeline and export project aimed at commercializing the state’s giant North Slope natural gas reserve. The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC), which is handling the project for the state, voted last week to send a 55,000-page application to FERC for construction of the massive three-phase venture.

Blackstone to buy EagleClaw Midstream for about $2 billion
Arathy S Nair and Muvija M, Reuters

EagleClaw Midstream Ventures LLC, the largest privately held operator of pipelines and processing facilities in West Texas’ Delaware Basin, said it agreed to be bought by funds managed by Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) for about $2 billion. Private equity firms, including Blackstone, Carlyle Group (CG.O), and CVC Partners, have built up significant firepower in recent years to invest in the oil and gas industry, where asset prices have dipped sharply since crude oil prices collapsed mid-2014.

China Gas Output Rises to Record as Coal Production Rebounds
Bloomberg News

China’s natural gas production surged to a record last month and coal output rebounded as economic growth accelerated power use in the world’s largest energy user. Natural gas production in March rose 8.2 percent from the average of the first two months of the year to a record 13.6 billion cubic meters, according to data Monday from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Utilities and Infrastructure

California utility launches first hybrid power systems
Christopher Weber, The Associated Press

A California utility has launched hybrid battery and gas turbine systems to produce and store electricity for use during hot summer months when power demand soars. Officials with Southern California Edison and General Electric said during an event Monday in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk that the new Hybrid EGT systems are the first of their kind in the world.

Renewables

Oklahoma to end tax credit that propelled wind production
Tim Talley, The Associated Press

A state tax credit that helped propel Oklahoma to third in the nation in its capacity to generate electricity from wind is coming to an end, but it will be years before state coffers see results of the change. Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed legislation that rolls back a 10-year tax credit for electricity generated by zero-emission facilities that was launched in 2003.

Big Business Pushes Coal-Friendly Kentucky To Embrace Renewables
Jennifer Ludden, NPR News

Kevin Butt’s job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker’s sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of energy still comes from coal.

How Wall Street Once Killed the U.S. Solar Industry
Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

A new paper in Science Advances argues that enormous changes transformed the structure of the U.S. economy in the 1970s and 1980s, making it impossible for American firms to develop new industries and markets. They specifically gutted the solar industry, depriving the technology of funding at a critical moment in its development.

Coal

Electric Grid Study Ordered by U.S. Energy Chief to Boost Coal
Jennifer A Dlouhy and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is ordering a study of the U.S. electric grid, with an eye to examining whether policies that favor wind and solar energy are accelerating the retirement of coal and nuclear plants critical to ensuring steady, reliable power supplies. The 60-day review, which Perry set in motion Friday, comes as regulators increasingly wonder how to balance electric reliability with a raft of state policies that prioritize less stable renewable energy sources.

With coal plant’s shaky future, many in Page look toward tourism
Emery Cowan, Arizona Daily Sun

Just 60 years ago, the city of Page wasn’t much more than a smattering of temporary homes and trailers at the edge of Glen Canyon. Called “Government Camp,” the structures were built at this sandy, rocky outcropping of high desert to support a labor force of thousands that were at work on the massive concrete wedge of Glen Canyon Dam.

Nuclear

Beijing Eyes Nuclear Power Markets From Belt and Road Initiative
Zainab Calcuttawala, OilPrice.com

As Beijing’s interest in renewable and non-traditional sources of energy grows, Chinese companies are demonstrating their interest in untapped nuclear energy markets, according to new reports emerging from the region. Nuclear power investments in Silk Road countries could amount to a $580 billion market, Wang Shoujun, the chairman of China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) told reporters on Monday.

Climate

Exxon and Shell Join Ivanka Trump to Defend Paris Climate Accord
Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg News

As President Donald Trump contemplates whether to make good on his campaign promise to yank the United States out of the Paris climate accord, an unlikely lobbying force is hoping to talk him out of it: oil and coal producers. A pro-Paris bloc within the administration has recruited energy companies to lend their support ahead of a high-level White House meeting Tuesday to discuss the global pact to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, according to two people familiar with the effort who asked not to be identified.

Climate change: Trump advisers warm to Paris pact
Ben Geman, Axios

Senior Trump administration officials will huddle at the White House today about whether to remain in the Paris climate accord, and under what terms. A decision is expected by late May. Likely outcome: Several industry sources tell Axios that they expect the “remain” camp to prevail in the divided administration.

Trump Administration May Not Find Middle Ground on Paris Climate Deal
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

As the Trump administration debates whether to stay in the Paris climate agreement, observers are skeptical that opposing wings of the administration will reach a middle ground. President Donald Trump’s top advisers are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss whether the U.S. should remain in the agreement, Politico reported.

Scarborough: Leaving Paris climate deal ‘stupid and counterintuitive’
Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill

Joe Scarborough on Monday slammed the Trump administration’s push to leave the Paris climate deal, calling such a move “stupid and counterintuitive.” “I know Pruitt and Steve Bannon are both against this, but this is so stupid,” Scarborough said on “Morning Joe,” referencing the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House chief strategist, respectively.

For the first time on record, human-caused climate change has rerouted an entire river
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

A team of scientists on Monday documented what they’re describing as the first case of large-scale river reorganization as a result of human-caused climate change. They found that in mid-2016, the retreat of a very large glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory led to the rerouting of its vast stream of meltwater from one river system to another — cutting down flow to the Yukon’s largest lake, and channeling freshwater to the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, rather than to the Bering Sea.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The Devastating Consequences of Weakening the EPA
Gina McCarthy, Cosmopolitan

During President Barack Obama’s second term, I headed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The core mission at EPA always has been — and always will be — protecting public health.

Scott Pruitt is ready to get the EPA back on track
The Editorial Board, New York Post

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, dropped by The Post last week to discuss his priorities — some of which might surprise his critics. Yes, Pruitt, like the president who appointed him, is determined to end Obama-era excesses, such as the all-pain, trivial-gain Clean Power Plan and the overreaching “Waters of the United States” rule that claimed the right to regulate even puddles.

Democrats are being pressured to support a “bipartisan” carbon tax bargain no Republicans support
David Roberts, Vox

The dream of a bipartisan deal on carbon taxes is evergreen in US political circles. Lately, it has taken on a somewhat more specific form.

Research Reports

Migration induced by sea-level rise could reshape the US population landscape
Matthew E. Hauer, Nature Climate Change

Many sea-level rise (SLR) assessments focus on populations presently inhabiting vulnerable coastal communities1, 2, 3, but to date no studies have attempted to model the destinations of these potentially displaced persons. With millions of potential future migrants in heavily populated coastal communities, SLR scholarship focusing solely on coastal communities characterizes SLR as primarily a coastal issue, obscuring the potential impacts in landlocked communities created by SLR-induced displacement.

Briefings

Energy Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

A special science section of the National Climate Assessment and a separate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the severe effects of climate change on the United States, potentially making it more difficult for President Donald Trump to roll back his predecessor’s environmental regulations.

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