Energy Brief: G20 Rebukes Trump on Climate Change Stance

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump received a rebuke from the Group of 20 for withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate. The 19 other world leaders at the summit in Hamburg, Germany, reiterated their commitment to the climate goals. (CNN)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency sought a delay from the appeals court ruling last week that would have stopped further delays from an Obama-era rule on methane regulation. (The Hill)
  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and energy subcommittee chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas) called for an investigation into Russian foreign lobbying involvement in anti-fracking campaigns. (The Washington Times)

Business Brief

  • Morgan Stanley analysts projected that renewable energy sources will be the cheapest form of generation by 2020. The price of renewables will enable the United States to exceed its Paris climate accord commitments, according to Morgan Stanley. (Quartz)
  • The decline in oil prices pushed producers to cut funding from older fields. New projects have maintained a rise in global oil production, but the spending cuts indicate a risk of future supply shortages.  (Bloomberg)
  • The hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. began considerations to challenge the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. $9 billion bid for the bankrupt Texas-based utility Oncor Electric Delivery Co. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
National Environmental Health Association Education Conference 8 a.m.
Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts Conference 9 a.m.
Tuesday
National Environmental Health Association Education Conference 8 a.m.
Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts Conference 9 a.m.
20th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo 9:30 a.m.
Outdoors Alliance for Kids briefing for Parks and Recreation Month on Capitol Hill 12 p.m.
EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities Seminar for air pollution monitoring on tribal lands 3 p.m.
Wednesday
National Environmental Health Association Education Conference 8 a.m.
Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts Conference 9 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on infrastructure financing 10 a.m.
House Science Space and Technology subcommittee on research and technology hearing on U.S. Fire Administration grant programs reauthorization 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on offshore drilling and development 10 a.m.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs legislative hearing 12 p.m.
Atlantic Council panels on the Ukraine’s Energy Sector 2:30 p.m.
Roundtable on Consequences of Climate Change on National Security hosted by House Science Space and Technology Ranking Member Bernice Johnson 3 p.m.
Thursday
National Environmental Health Association Education Conference 8 a.m.
Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts Conference 9 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee oversight hearing on the Indian Reorganization Act 10 a.m.
Energy Department’s Better Buildings exchange on resilience and energy efficiency in low-income communities 1 p.m.
Friday
House Natural Resources subcommittee on federal lands legislative hearing on four bills 9 a.m.
Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts Conference 9 a.m.
National Science Teachers Association STEM Forum workshop on EPA research 11 a.m.

 

General

G20 closes with rebuke to Trump’s climate change stance
Angela Dewan and Stephanie Halasz, CNN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel closed the G20 summit in Hamburg with a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s stance on climate change, but the group of the world’s economic leaders appeared to make a concession on his protectionist trade policies. Officials had been at an impasse over an increasingly isolationist United States and Trump’s climate change and trade policies for most of the summit, and Merkel made it clear the United States had made talks difficult.

Key Republicans call for probe to see if Russia funded anti-fracking groups
Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times

Two key House Republicans have called on the Trump administration to investigate whether Russia is trying to undermine the U.S. energy industry by funding environmental activism as part of a “propaganda war against fossil fuels.” Russia’s goal is to “suppress the widespread adoption of fracking in Europe and the U.S.,” according to a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin from House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith and energy subcommittee chairman Randy Weber.

Oil and Natural Gas

Oil Fields Pumping a Third of Supply Die Fastest in 24 Years
Rakteem Katakey, Bloomberg

The tussle for supremacy between OPEC and U.S. shale drillers is killing off older oil fields at the fastest pace in almost a quarter century. That could hurt the industry once the current glut has faded. The three-year price slump triggered by the battle for market share choked off funds for aging deposits elsewhere, accelerating their decline. Output at older fields from China to North America — making up a third of world supply — fell 5.7 percent last year, the most since 1992, according to Rystad Energy AS. It’ll drop about 6 percent in 2017 if oil stays at current prices, the consultant said.

Aramco CEO sees oil supply shortage as investments and discoveries drop
Karolin Schaps and David Dolan, Reuters

The world might be heading for an oil supply shortage following a steep drop in investments and a lack of fresh conventional discoveries, Saudi Aramco’s chief executive said on Monday. Unconventional shale oil and alternative energy resources are an important factor to help meet future demand but it is premature to assume that they can be developed quickly to replace oil and gas, Amin Nasser told a conference in Istanbul.

Oil prices dip on ample supply as OPEC may consider widening cap
Henning Gloystein and Dmitry Zhdannikov, Reuters

Oil prices declined on Monday, adding to heavy losses at the end of last week on the back of high drilling activity in the United States and ample supplies from OPEC and non-OPEC nations. Prices dropped even as OPEC signaled it may widen its production caps to include Nigeria and Libya, whose output has recovered in recent months after being curtailed by years of unrest. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $46.21 per barrel at 0936 GMT, down 50 cents, or around 1 percent, from their last close.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Elliott explores bid to challenge Buffett’s Oncor deal -sources
Jessica DiNapoli, Reuters

Elliott Management Corp, the largest creditor of the bankrupt parent of Texas power transmission company Oncor Electric Delivery Co, is exploring putting together a bid for the company that would challenge Warren Buffett’s $9 billion all-cash deal, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. Elliott, the hedge fund run by billionaire Paul Singer, would seek to convert its debt in the company to equity, as well as raise new equity financing for its bid, the sources said.

Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure From Utility Companies
Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900 percent by one estimate. That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2 percent, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A number of factors are driving the reversal, from saturation in markets like California to financial woes at several top solar panel makers.

With more electric cars coming, Minnesota officials consider charging network
Eric Roper, The Star Tribune

Thousands of electric cars could soon be rolling on Minnesota’s roads, spurring discussions about how to keep them all juiced for long hauls from Austin to Alexandria or Blue Earth to Bemidji. The new models can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge, and most daily charging occurs at home. So rather than focusing on adding chargers in the metro area, the MPCA, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and others are plotting what’s needed to make long-distance travel seamless, sketching out a statewide network of superfast roadside chargers.

Qualified Support for CAISO Gas Constraint Plan
Jason Fordney, RTO Insider

California electricity sellers are cautiously supportive of CAISO’s proposal to permanently assume authority to limit output from gas-fired generators as an emergency response to possible limitations on gas deliveries. But the ISO’s Department of Market Monitoring (DMM) said the grid operator has not fully justified its gas-electric coordination straw proposal and concerns need to be addressed before it would recommend approval by the Board of Governors or FERC.

Renewables

Renewable energy is becoming so cheap the US will meet Paris commitments even if Trump withdraws
Zoë Schlanger, Quartz

Research analysts at Morgan Stanley believe that renewable energy like solar and wind power are hurtling towards a level of ubiquity where not even politics can hinder them. Renewable energy is simply becoming the cheapest option, fast. Basic economics, the analysts say, suggest that the US will exceed its commitments in the Paris agreement regardless of whether or not president Donald Trump withdraws, as he’s stated he will.

Colorado renewable energy lab determined to remain cutting edge despite threatened budget cuts
Peter Marcus, The Gazette

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has 40 years of history behind it, but walking through its sprawling Front Range campus one can’t help but think 40 years into the future. Solar cells that can be spray-painted onto windows or printed at a Home Depot; power grids that can take in a wide portfolio of traditional and renewable energy and adapt to changing environments; homes with appliances that communicate with each other to share power between electric cars, water heaters, appliances and even neighbors; hydrogen cars that can travel 300 miles with only a three-minute charge.

Coal

Coal no longer fuels America. But the legacy — and the myth — remain.
Karen Heller, The Washington Post

Boone County claims to be the birthplace of America’s coal industry, the rich and abundant black rock discovered in these verdant hills almost three centuries ago. Coal gives name to nearly everything in these parts — the Big and Little Coal rivers, the weekly Coal Valley News, the wondrous Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum and the West Virginia Coal Festival, celebrating, as we arrive in town, its 24th year.

Appalachian Power to rely half on coal, half on renewable energy
Carrie Hodousek, West Virginia MetroNews

The goal of Appalachian Power Company is to rely 50 percent on coal and 50 percent on renewable energy, according to the company’s president. As the company starts to work with new employers, the demand for new energy sources increases.

Nuclear

U.S. officials say Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks
Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post

Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies in what appears to be an effort to assess their networks, according to U.S. government officials. The U.S. officials said there is no evidence the hackers breached or disrupted the core systems controlling operations at the plants, so the public was not at risk. Rather, they said, the hackers broke into systems dealing with business and administrative tasks, such as personnel.

Climate

EPA asks court to let it delay Obama air pollution rule
Timothy Cama, The Hill

The Trump administration asked a federal appeals court Friday to allow it to delay enforcement of an Obama administration rule to limit methane pollution from oil and natural gas drilling. In their Friday motion to the court, the attorneys said the circuit court would normally hold off on enforcing its ruling for 52 days, to allow the Justice Department to decide whether it would appeal the ruling.

‘When corals die off, we die off’
Olivia Yasukawa and Thomas Page, CNN

Headlines refer to the “slow creep” of climate change. In pockets of the world not yet on its frontlines, there is still doubt or ambivalence — even from the highest offices in the land. Seychellois, however, can measure the effects with a yardstick along their coastline.

A Message from the Center for Western Priorities:

America protects its most iconic land for all time, from the Grand Canyon to Acadia, and from the Statue of Liberty to Zion. But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is planning to eviscerate America’s treasured national monuments, ignoring the more than 9 out of 10 Americans who’ve told Secretary Zinke: Keep your hands off of American public lands. Visit Monuments to America to learn more.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Facts, not bias, should drive energy policy
William O’Keefe, The Hill

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) once observed that we are all entitled to our own opinions — just not our own facts. Yet there are many interest groups, in pursuit of policy goals, that seem bound and determined to believe just the opposite, presenting distortions and opinions as facts not to be challenged.

Who will keep our public lands open?
Kathryn Qannayahu, The Billings Gazette

The removal of Alex Sienkiewicz as the Forest Service District Ranger, for following FS policy in administrating our federally managed public lands for multiple users, is just such a stone. The ripple effects of this orchestrated removal are the latest public land grab attempt, which could affect the entire U.S. federally managed public lands under this administration. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, are spearheading an effort to gain greater control of our federally managed public lands by cutting off access.

Trump has Putin ‘over a barrel’ with aggressive energy policy, defense of the West
Larry Kudlow, CNBC

Many say Putin is the richest man in Russia, worth billions and billions. So the old Soviet model of the nomenklatura communist bureaucrats getting rich while the rest of the country declines is still in place. But with energy prices falling, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has essentially been in a recession over the past four years. With oil at $50 a barrel or less, Russian budgets plunge deeper into debt. It’s even doubtful the Russians have enough money to upgrade their military-energy industrial complex.

A Message from the Center for Western Priorities:

By a 9-to-1 margin, Utah residents are telling Interior Secretary Zinke to keep Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante national monuments. These lands are sacred to tribal nations, enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, and critical to local Utah economies. Will he listen to Utahns or just special interests? Visit Monuments to America to learn more.

Research Reports

Electric Vehicle Outlook 2017
Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Our global long-term Electric Vehicle Outlook (EVO) forecasts passenger EV adoption out to 2040 and the impact that electrification will have on automotive and power markets, as well as on fossil fuel displacement and demand for key materials. The EVO 2017 report updates our view of future lithium-ion battery prices and how this will affect the economics of different vehicle segments.