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Energy Brief: ExxonMobil Calls NY Attorney General Subpoena Request ‘Frivolous’

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Washington Brief

  • The White House Office of Management and Budget said it received the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed changes to the Clean Power Plan, the last step before the EPA can release the proposal publicly. (The Hill)
  • President Donald Trump said he will set up a council to penalize any federal agency that is “consistently delaying” infrastructure projects. (Washington Examiner)
  • French President Emmanuel Macron launched a website that encourages scientists and researchers to move to France to research climate change. (NBC News)

Business Brief

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. asked a New York court to reject a subpoena request from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, saying his claim to have found evidence Exxon misled investors was “frivolous.” (Reuters)
  • Toshiba Corp. will pay $3.7 billion for two nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia by its U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse, which has filed for bankruptcy protection. (The Associated Press)
  • Switzerland-based Glencore offered $2.6 billion for Rio Tinto’s Australian coal business, surpassing an offer from Yancoal, an Australian subsidiary of Chinese Yanzhou Coal. (Financial Times)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
Tellurian CEO Meg Gentle speaks at Atlantic Council 12 p.m.
Tuesday
House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on watershed infrastructure 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on EPA and NRC nominations 10 a.m.
Wednesday
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee legislative hearing on Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on energy security 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee legislative hearing on SHARE Act 10 am.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee legislative hearing on hydropower and water bills 2 p.m.
Thursday
Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on farm bill 9:30 a.m.
BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017 9:30 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Forest Service budget request 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on forest management 10 a.m.
Pruitt testifies at House Appropriations subcommittee 11 a.m.
BP Group Chief Economist Spencer Dale speaks at AGA’s Natural Gas Roundtable 12 p.m.
Friday
FERC staff Elizabeth Olson speaks at WCEE lunch 11:45 a.m.

 

General

Trump’s proposed climate rule reconsideration nears public release
Timothy Cama, The Hill

President Trump’s White House is reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed reconsideration of former President Barack Obama’s climate change rule for power plants. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said early Friday that it received the proposed “review” of the rule Thursday from the EPA.

Trump to create council to punish agencies for delaying projects
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

President Trump’s plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure would include stiff penalties for any federal agency found to be stalling new road, bridge or dam approvals. Trump said the administration would set up a new “council” to help project managers navigate the “bureaucratic maze,” but its other function would be to “make sure that every federal agency that is consistently delaying projects by missing deadlines will face tough, new penalties.”

Burst in investor confidence in oil pushes up prices
Amanda Cooper, Reuters

Oil rose on Monday to break a three-day losing streak, after futures traders increased their bets on a renewed price upswing even though physical markets remain bloated, especially from a relentless rise in U.S. drilling. Brent crude futures had risen 23 cents to $48.38 per barrel by 0900 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 17 cents to $46.00 per barrel.

Oil and Natural Gas

Exxon calls NY prosecutor’s climate change probe ‘harassment’ in filing
Ernest Scheyder and Emily Flitter, Reuters

Exxon Mobil Corp asked a New York court on Friday to reject another subpoena request from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, arguing the prosecutor’s recent claim to have found evidence Exxon misled investors was false and that he was abusing his investigative powers. The company said Schneiderman’s allegation it had neglected to estimate the impact of future environmental regulation on new deals was “frivolous” and that no “legitimate law enforcement need” would be served by giving his office more documents.

Qatar Renews Commitment to OPEC Oil-Cutting Strategy
Summer Said, The Wall Street Journal

Qatar’s energy minister said Sunday the country remains committed to limiting its oil output through March 2018 under an agreement with other big oil producers, despite the severing of its diplomatic relations with OPEC allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “Circumstances in the region shall not prevent the state of Qatar from honoring its international commitment of cutting its oil production,” Mohammed al-Sada said in an emailed statement.

Drivers Head Into Summer With a Gift at the Gas Pump
Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

Looking for an excuse to pack up the car for a road trip this weekend Look no further: The average nationwide gasoline price on Friday was the lowest for this point of the year since 2005, according to GasBuddy, a website and smartphone app designed to help drivers find the best deals at the pump.

US natural gas exports to offer hedge against Russia: Energy Secretary Rick Perry
Economic Times

The United States shipping of Liquefied Natural Gas overseas is an act to confront economic aggression and to decrease Russia’s leverage as Europe’s dominant gas supplier, said Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The U.S. on Friday delivered the first-ever shipments of its natural gas to northern Europe – Netherlands and Poland.

Utilities and Infrastructure

State to monitor air quality near Pasadena power plant by this fall
Rachael Pacella, Capital Gazette

State officials plan to install air quality monitoring equipment by this fall near a Pasadena power plant, after conflicting reports from federal and state officials left residents with uncertainty about the quality of the air they are breathing. In July 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that areas within a 17-mile radius of the coal-burning Herbert A. Wagner Generating Station are exposed to unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide, a pollutant that officials said contributes to respiratory problems, particularly in the young, elderly, and people with asthma problems.

Renewables

Competition for offshore wind ramps up in Massachusetts
Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press

Massachusetts’ bid to become the nation’s leader in offshore wind power is ramping up. The state’s electric utilities — National Grid, Eversource and Unitil — are slated to release by June 30 their requirements for projects seeking to develop the state’s first ocean-based wind farm.

Finkel report could lift solar, wind costs
Matt Chambers, Australian Business Review

Solar and wind farm costs could rise under the Finkel blueprint for National Energy Market security, with a move to offset reduced reliability from state renewable energy targets potentially making solar power more expensive than gas in some circumstances. One of the 50 recommendations in Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s review of the NEM, is that a “generator reliability obligation” be developed that would force new wind and solar projects in regions that already have highly variable power sources to provide access to on-call power sources, such as battery, or gas-fired, power.

Coal

Glencore makes counterbid for Rio Tinto’s Australian coal assets
Neil Hume and David Sheppard, Financial Times

Glencore has gatecrashed a planned Chinese takeover of Rio Tinto’s Australian coal business, tabling a $2.55bn counter-offer that pitches Ivan Glasenberg, its dealmaking chief executive, into a new bid battle. The move shows the Swiss-based miner and commodity trader, which was almost brought to its knees just two years ago by the commodity downturn, has lost none of its appetite for acquisitions after paying down debt and deleveraging its balance sheet.

Coal industry could be in store for a ‘rare earth’ reboot
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The coal industry’s future may have much more to do with building smartphones, wind turbines and missile defense radar than billowing smoke stacks and environmental finger pointing, say federal coal advisers and experts. The direction of the industry is aimed at harvesting what are known as “rare earth elements,” for which the U.S. industry depends on China.

Town That Helped Power Northwest Feels Left Behind In Shift Away From Coal
Nathan Rott, NPR News

Colstrip, Mont., is about 750 miles away from Seattle, as the crow flies. Politically, the two places may be even further apart. And yet, they’re connected.

Nuclear

Toshiba to pay $3.68 billion for Westinghouse reactors in U.S.
Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press

Money-losing Japanese nuclear and electronics company Toshiba Corp. will pay $3.68 billion toward the construction of two reactors in Georgia by its U.S. unit Westinghouse, which has filed for bankruptcy protection. Tokyo-based Toshiba said Saturday the payment, under agreement with the operator of the Vogtle plant, will be made from October through January 2021.

Indian Point power plant to shut down to replace leaky water seals
The Associated Press

One of two nuclear power plants at Indian Point in Westchester County is being shut down to replace leaky water seals. Entergy Corporation says the Unit 3 power plant 30 miles north of New York City will be shut down Sunday night to replace two water seals between the lid of the reactor and the reactor vessel.

Clinton reactor at full power a year after closing threat
Tim Landis, State Journal-Register

The Clinton Power Station is fully operational a little more than a year after plant owner Exelon Corp. warned the nuclear reactor would shut down this month if financial losses continued. In between, state lawmakers approved and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation providing $235 million in ratepayer subsidies annually to Exelon to keep the Clinton reactor and a nuclear power station in the Quad Cities running for at least another decade.

Finland Works, Quietly, to Bury Its Nuclear Reactor Waste
Henry Fountain, The New York Times

Beneath a forested patch of land on the Gulf of Bothnia, at the bottom of a steep tunnel that winds for three miles through granite bedrock, Finland is getting ready to entomb its nuclear waste. If all goes well, sometime early in the next decade the first of what will be nearly 3,000 sealed copper canisters, each up to 17 feet long and containing about two tons of spent reactor fuel from Finland’s nuclear power industry, will be lowered into a vertical borehole in a side tunnel about 1,400 feet underground.

Climate

Macron Invites Americans to Move to France to Research Climate Change
Daniel Arkin, NBC News

French President Emmanuel Macron is hitting back at President Donald Trump over the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord with a new website that encourages scientists and researchers to move to France. The website, Make Our Planet Great Again, parodies Trump’s campaign slogan and calls on “all responsible citizens” to take their fight against climate change to France.

Local governments step up fight with Trump on climate
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Puerto Rico, a dozen states and hundreds of municipalities have stepped up to fight climate change in response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Through formal and informal initiatives, the non-federal government bodies are seeking to work directly with foreign governments to reduce emissions.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Does Nuclear Energy Have a Future in the United States?
Brian Isom and William F. Shughart II, Morning Consult

In May, the U.S. Energy Information Agency released a daily energy brief summarizing the current and future state of nuclear energy production in America. According to the EIA, nuclear’s share of the nation’s electricity generating capacity will drop from 20 percent to 11 percent by 2050.

Trump’s Coal Bet Faces a Tough Foe: Moore’s Law
Stephen Mihm, Bloomberg View

Donald Trump justified his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement by claiming that compliance would impose crippling economic burdens on the United States. “I happen to love the coal miners,” Trump declared, before reaffirming his intention to make the fossil fuel the centerpiece of the nation’s energy policy.

No, Rick Perry, California’s renewable energy policies aren’t dangerous for the grid
Jacques Leslie, Los Angeles Times

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered a 60-day review of the “long-term reliability of the electric grid” on April 15, he might as well have cited California’s energy policies as the target of his inquiry. California, after all, is the nation’s leading supporter of renewable energy, which fossil fuel advocates maintain is destabilizing the grid.

Research Reports

Focus on agriculture and forestry benefits of reducing climate change impacts
Jeremy Martinich et al., Environmental Research Letters

Agriculture and forestry are important economic sectors that are vulnerable to changes in the climate system. Climate change both positively and negatively affects the distribution and productivity of these sectors, as production is sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation, carbon dioxide fertilization effects, availability of water for irrigation, increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather, and stress from diseases and pests.