Energy Brief: House Panel Advances Bill to Limit Presidential Powers in Antiquities Act

Government Brief

  • The House Natural Resources Committee voted 23-17 to advance a bill sponsored by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) that would limit presidential powers designating public lands as national monuments. The legislation would overhaul the 1906 Antiquities Act, which many Republicans say has been abused by previous administrations by limiting the agricultural and recreational use of large areas of land. (Washington Examiner)
  • Representatives from Canada, Mexico and the United States are scheduled to hold a two-hour session on Friday to discuss energy issues, part of the fourth round of talks to update the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Industry groups want to loosen NAFTA rules to make it easier for companies to transport oil, gas and infrastructure across borders. (Bloomberg)
  • Leaders of the House Climate Solutions Caucus want to use the bipartisan group to find a compromise on how to replace the Obama administration’s signature climate change regulation, the Clean Power Plan. The Environmental Protection Agency this week took the first step toward repealing the rule, which regulates greenhouse gas emissions of power plants, but it did not set a timeline for the rule’s potential replacement. (Morning Consult)

Business Brief

  • The Institute for Energy Research, a think tank whose political arm endorsed President Donald Trump, criticized the Department of Energy’s proposal to mandate higher payments to coal and nuclear power plants, calling it “excessive and unnecessarily distortive.” The proposal, introduced last month, asks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require that electric grid operators pay more to baseload power sources such as coal and nuclear plants, with Secretary Rick Perry saying the policy is needed for grid resilience. (The Hill)
  • Almost two-thirds of U.S. oil executives see crude oil prices remaining below $60 per barrel through 2018, according to a survey published by Deloitte Services LP. The survey, based on a poll of 250 executives in the oil and natural gas industry, reflects a more dour view than last year, when many respondents forecast an increase in commodity prices and capital spending budgets. (Reuters)
  • Innogy announced its acquisition of Statkraft’s 50 percent share in a massive offshore wind energy project, making the German energy company the sole owner. The Triton Knoll offshore wind project, set to be located off the east coast of England, has a planned installed capacity of 860 megawatts, enough to power 800,000 U.K. homes annually. (CNBC)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

ACORE Finance West 8:45 a.m.
CSIS hosts IEA renewable energy report launch 9:30 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee on water, power and oceans holds legislative hearing 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing with Energy Secretary Rick Perry 10 a.m.
2017 Energy Efficiency Forum 1 p.m.
Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit 1:30 p.m.
Women’s Energy Network October happy hour 5:30 p.m.
Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit 9 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee legislative hearing for onshore energy policy 9 a.m.
Forum on Mexico’s energy outlook hosted by Woodrow Wilson Center 4:30 p.m.

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House committee advances bill to limit Antiquities Act
Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

The House Natural Resources Committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would limit the power of presidents to designate public land as national monuments. The National Monument Creation and Protection Act, moved by a 23-17 vote, would overhaul the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president unilateral power to protect structures of “historic and scientific interest.”

NAFTA Negotiators to Tackle Energy Issues During Friday Meeting
Catherine Traywick and Eric Martin, Bloomberg

NAFTA negotiators are gathering in Washington for their fourth round of talks to update the trade deal, and energy is on the agenda — if only for two hours. U.S., Mexican and Canadian representatives will hold just one energy session late Friday during seven days of talks ranging from gender to the environment.

Trump’s Tough Talk on Nafta Suggests Pact’s Demise Is Imminent
Ana Swanson, The New York Times

The North American Free Trade Agreement, long disparaged by President Trump as bad for the United States, was edging closer toward collapse as negotiators gathered for a fourth round of contentious talks here this week. In recent weeks, the Trump administration has sparred with American businesses that support Nafta and has pushed for significant changes that negotiators from Mexico and Canada say are nonstarters.

GAO to probe whether Trump administration is protecting agencies’ scientific integrity
Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

The Government Accountability Office will look into whether the Trump administration is safeguarding scientific integrity. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked the GAO to investigate the issue on Sept. 25, calling media reports of political appointees screening Environmental Protection Agency grants and officials at multiple agencies purging references to climate change and other scientific information “troubling.”

Oil and Natural Gas

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. oil executives see crude oil prices remaining below $60 per barrel through 2018 and not hitting $70 until at least the next decade, according to a survey published on Wednesday by consultancy Deloitte Services LP. The survey, based on a poll of 250 executives at companies that produce, transport and refine oil and natural gas, reflects a shift from last year when many respondents forecast commodity prices would rise and capital spending budgets grow.

Oil slips despite expected OPEC extension of output cuts
Christopher Johnson, Reuters

Oil prices slipped on Thursday as U.S. fuel inventories rose despite efforts by OPEC to cut production. Brent crude oil was down 20 cents at $56.74 a barrel by 0840 GMT.

European Refiners Hardest Hit If Kurdish Oil Disrupted, IEA Says
Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg

European refiners would be the biggest losers if Kurdish crude supplies are disrupted by the political fallout from the semi-autonomous region’s vote for independence from Iraq, said the International Energy Agency. Italy is the biggest importer of crude from Kurdistan, with Croatia, Greece, Spain and Israel also getting regular supplies from the region, the IEA said Thursday in its monthly oil-market report.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Three weeks since Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico still dark, thirsty and frustrated
Manuel Roig-Franzia and Arelis R. Hernández, The Washington Post

It has been three weeks since Hurricane Maria savaged Puerto Rico, and life in the capital city of San Juan inches toward something that remotely resembles a new, uncomfortable form of normalcy. Eighty-four percent of the island is still without power, according to the governor’s office, and local officials in many areas are steeling themselves — with a sense of anger and dread — for six months or more without electricity.

Legislators: SC Utility Won’t Be Sold at ‘Fire Sale Price’
Seanna Adcox, The Associated Press

South Carolina legislators emphasized Wednesday only the General Assembly can sell a state-owned utility, and it makes no sense to do so at a “fire sale price” following the abandonment of a multibillion-dollar nuclear power project. McMaster says he wants a buyer to either complete one or both of the partially built reactors or refund customers the billions they’ve sunk into the scuttled project.

Could cyberattacks knock out lights in the US? Not so easily
The Associated Press

Hackers likely linked to the North Korean government targeted a U.S. electricity company late last month, according to a security firm that says it detected and stopped the attacks. John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis for FireEye, said Wednesday that phishing emails were sent on Sept. 22 to executives at the energy company, which he declined to identify.


Innogy becomes sole owner of massive offshore wind project
Anmar Frangoul, CNBC

German energy business Innogy has announced it has acquired Statkraft’s 50 percent share in the Triton Knoll offshore wind project. The Essen-based company said Tuesday that it was now the sole owner of the project, which has a planned installed capacity of 860 megawatts.

How to Turn Trash Into Energy in 12 Hours
Jess Shankleman, Bloomberg

A Danish energy company is working on new machines that sort household trash from recycling, while rapidly breaking down organic materials like food to create power from biogas produced by the process. Dong Energy A/S, which runs hundreds of wind turbines in the North Sea, says its plant 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside of Manchester is one of the first to use enzymes on an entire waste stream and then combine it with recycling sorting technology.


Pro-Trump energy group blasts plan to help coal, nuclear
Timothy Cama, The Hill

An energy policy think tank whose political arm endorsed President Trump is panning the administration’s proposal to mandate higher payments to coal and nuclear power plants. The Institute for Energy Research’s (IER) Director of Policy Kenny Stein wrote Wednesday that the Department of Energy’s proposal is “excessive and unnecessarily distortive.”

Coal industry supporters celebrate EPA repeal of Clean Power Plan
Meghan Keneally, ABC News

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE), an advocacy group supporting coal producers and related industries, released a statement saying they welcome the repeal. For Trump supporters, like retired coal miner Jack Laakso who lives in the heart of Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin, the repeal is a victory.


Coastal Commission ‘sympathetic’ but defends 2015 SONGS nuclear waste permit
Rob Nikolewski, The San Diego Union-Tribune

The California Coastal Commission gave no indication Wednesday that it will make any changes to its decision two years ago to approve storing millions of pounds of nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). But after listening for two hours from people living in the shadow of the now-shuttered nuclear facility, commissioners made plans to urge federal authorities to find a solution to the country’s growing stockpile of spent nuclear fuel.


Bipartisan House Climate Caucus Wants Common Path on Clean Power Plan
Iulia Gheorghiu, Morning Consult

Leaders of the House Climate Solutions Caucus want to use the bipartisan group to find a compromise on how to replace the Obama administration’s signature climate change regulation, the Clean Power Plan. The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday announced its plan to repeal the rule, which regulates greenhouse gas emissions of power plants.

Trump nominates AccuWeather CEO to lead key climate agency
Henry Jackson, Politico

President Donald Trump has nominated the CEO of AccuWeather to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a key agency in conducting climate research and assessing climate change. Barry Myers has served since 2007 as CEO of AccuWeather, a media company in State College, Pennsylvania, that provides worldwide weather predictions.

Admin tries to fix flood insurance without tackling climate
Zack Colman, E&E News

After weeks of attention paid to hurricanes, flooding and a rebuilding process that will take years, the Trump administration is making a push to change an insolvent program that offers cut-rate insurance to homeowners in floodplains.

Worrying new research finds that the ocean is cutting through a key Antarctic ice shelf
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

The Dotson ice shelf, which holds back two separate large glaciers, is about 1,350 square miles in area and between 1,000 and 1,600 feet thick. But on its western side, it is now only about half that thickness, said Noel Gourmelen, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the lead author of the research, which was just published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The Clean Energy Boom Is Here, and Its Benefits Aren’t Slowing
Isak Kvam, Morning Consult

The U.S. is benefitting from a clean energy boom, and it’s got the facts to prove it. You don’t have to look far to find a wind farm or factory that builds wind turbine parts — all 50 states have wind farms or wind factories, if not both.

A Flawed Climate Plan Is Better Than None
Editorial Board, Bloomberg

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan was never the best way to lower U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Doing away with it now, as Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has proposed, will be a blow to the climate and public health.

Obama legacy founders on executive orders
Rich Lowry, The Boston Herald

One by one, the artifacts of President Barack Obama’s rule by administrative fiat are tumbling. The latest is his signature Clean Power Plan that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt says he will begin the arduous process of unwinding.

Do automakers dream of electric cars?
George Will, The Washington Post

Today, GM chief executive Mary Barra is wagering that the industry soon will be manufacturing New Economy products. But governments, and not just dictatorships, like to dictate, and companies must accommodate: GM sells more cars in China than in the United States (it sold about 1.2 million Buicks last year, about a million of them in China, where elites drove them decades before communism arrived), and China manufactures more cars than the United States and Japan combined.

Natural gas pipelines needed to keep power flowing
Editorial Board, The Fredericksburg Post

Concerns about the pipeline’s environmental impact are certainly warranted, and it’s understandable that most people do not want a pipeline anywhere near their property. But to meet the power needs of a modern state economy like Virginia’s, energy infrastructure has to go somewhere.

Research Reports

Winter Fuels Outlook
U.S. Energy Information Administration

EIA forecasts that average household expenditures for all major home heating fuels will rise this winter because of expected colder weather and higher energy costs. Average increases vary by fuel, with natural gas expenditures forecast to rise by 12%, home heating oil by 17%, electricity by 8%, and propane by 18%.