Government watchdog to launch probe into EPA’s hiring practices
Dino Grandoni, The Washington Post
A government watchdog agency has agreed to a request from Democratic senators to open an inquiry into whether the Environmental Protection Agency circumvented the Trump administration’s own ethics rules when hiring certain agency employees. GAO spokesman Chuck Young confirmed that the agency will launch the inquiry but said “work won’t start for a few months.”
Will the ethanol industry’s hurricane lobbying pay off?
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner
It’s too soon to tell if the ethanol industry’s plan to leverage the federal hurricane response to rush higher blends of ethanol into market actually worked, although the Trump administration’s emergency fuel policies did act in its favor. Shortly after Harvey made landfall last month, the Renewable Fuels Association, representing the ethanol industry, began pressing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for a nationwide fuel waiver that would allow the mid-level ethanol blend, or E15, to serve as a sort of hurricane relief fuel for consumers suffering from high gasoline prices.
EU makes contingency plans to protect carbon market from Brexit
Jim Brunsden and Alex Barker, Financial Times
Brussels has shown its first sign of contingency planning in case Brexit talks with the UK break down, with MEPs taking steps to make sure that a messy British exit does not wreak havoc on the EU’s carbon market. The European Parliament is preparing to amend legislation governing the EU’s carbon emissions trading system over concerns that a sudden UK exit could crash the price of carbon.
Oil and Natural Gas
Crude Prices Diverge After Irma Lands
Christopher Alessi, The Wall Street Journal
Oil prices oscillated Monday morning, with U.S. crude recovering a fraction of its losses from the last session and Brent trending downwards. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 0.3%, at $53.61 a barrel in London midmorning trading.
Mike Coffman targets oil imports to slow Maduro regime in Venezuela
Al Weaver, Washington Examiner
A House Republican introduced legislation last week to bar the U.S. from importing petroleum products from Venezuela in a push to cripple the growing authoritarian regime in the South American country. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., introduced the Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act, that would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country’s democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority.
Saudi says it’s accelerating economic reforms, Aramco IPO on track
Andrew Torchia, Reuters
Saudi Arabia’s government is accelerating its economic reforms while revising some of them to give ministries more flexibility in meeting their targets, the information ministry said on Saturday. The Vision 2030 reform programme, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year, aims to free the economy from dependence on oil exports.
Utilities and Infrastructure
Irma Knocks Out Power to Millions of Customers in Florida
Erin Ailworth, The Wall Street Journal
Hurricane Irma knocked out power to close to five million customers in Florida as of late Sunday evening, according to outage maps from the state’s utilities, which warned that some people may not regain electricity for weeks, despite billions of dollars in investments to strengthen the power grid in recent years. While Irma’s path has shifted west, Rob Gould, a vice president for Florida Power & Light Co., a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., cautioned customers on the state’s east coast to remain vigilant about downed power lines, the fact their power might still go out and safety issues with home generators.
Power play: Electric grid plan resurfaces at end of session
Jeff McDonald, The San Diego Union-Tribune
With days to go before the close of the legislative session, Gov. Jerry Brown and other leading Democrats have reintroduced a plan that would expand the California power grid to five Western states but could also cede control of the vast network of transmission poles and wires. Lawmakers may convene a special hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications — chaired by Sen. Ben Hueso of San Diego — as early as Monday.
China wants to ban gas and diesel cars
Sherisse Pham, CNN
China is preparing to put the brakes on gasoline and diesel cars. The Chinese government is following in the footsteps of countries like India, France, Britain and Norway, which have already announced plans to completely ditch gas and diesel cars in favor of cleaner vehicles in the coming years.
U.S. solar installations rise despite drop in residential market
Nichola Groom, Reuters
U.S. solar installations rose 8 percent in the second quarter as robust utility demand offset a sharp pullback in residential rooftop systems, according to an industry report published on Monday. The industry installed 2.39 gigawatts of photovoltaic solar, up from 2.2 GW a year ago, the report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association said.
Offshore wind power cheaper than new nuclear
Roger Harrabin, BBC News
Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time. The cost of subsidies for new offshore wind farms has halved since the last 2015 auction for clean energy projects.
State Looks to Spark Debate on Electric Vehicles, Infrastructure
Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight
The state is trying to figure out how to adapt to growth in the market for electric vehicles, a policy crucial to its efforts to meet mandates to reduce emissions contributing to global warming. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is convening this week a stakeholders group to begin hashing out basic questions dealing with how the state can build the infrastructure needed to promote the vehicles and how quickly it can be done.
Report: Missouri sees strong growth in ‘clean energy’ jobs
Bryce Gray, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Coal is still king in Missouri, accounting for nearly 80 percent of electricity generation statewide, but a newly released jobs report shows the galloping momentum of clean-energy jobs in the state, and throughout the Midwest. About half of Missouri’s clean-energy jobs are in construction — positions that industry experts touted specifically for the job security that they provide.
Air Products forms $1.3 billion joint venture in China
Andrew Wagaman, The Morning Call
Air Products has signed an agreement to form a $1.3 billion joint venture that will expand its capacity to serve a business partner’s syngas-to-liquids production in Changzhi City, Shanxi Province, China, the company announced Sunday. The new joint venture will own and operate both the ASUs and the gasification and syngas clean-up system.
Poland to treat coal addiction by embracing nuclear power
Sam Morgan, Euractiv
Poland’s ongoing large-scale investment in three new coal-fired power plants may be the country’s last fossil fuel venture, its energy minister said last week, indicating a possible energy shift in the EU’s largest eastern member amid revived plans to embrace nuclear power. Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski told the Krynica-Zdrój Economic Forum in southern Poland that once the country’s state-run energy firms have finished the three coal projects currently under construction, no more investments are planned.
FPL shuts down one nuclear reactor at Turkey Point
Nancy Dahlberg, The Miami Herald
Because of Hurricane Irma’s threat to the region, FPL announced that it has shut down a reactor at its Turkey Point nuclear plant. This move was anticipated and didn’t impact power to customers, contrary to false reports circulating on social media on Friday.
‘Mini’ nuclear reactors could help solve Britain’s energy crunch and cut a third off bills, ministers hope
Alan Tovey, The Telegraph
Ministers are ready to approve the swift development of a fleet of “mini” reactors to help guard against electricity shortages, as older nuclear power stations are decommissioned. The new technology is expected to offer energy a third cheaper than giant conventional reactors such as the ongoing Hinkley Point in Somerset.
McCain: ‘We have to understand that the climate may be changing’
Rebecca Savransky, The Hill
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday said it’s important to understand the climate may be changing. “There is things happening with the climate in the world that is unprecedented,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked a question regarding why Republicans act as if climate change is not real.
Fires, droughts and hurricanes: What’s the link between climate change and natural disasters?
Amina Kahn, Los Angeles Times
With Hurricane Irma smashing into Florida so soon after Hurricane Harvey flooded southeastern Texas — and as wildfires burn through the western United States — extreme events have been hitting the U.S. from all sides. Here are a few ways researchers think that climate change’s effects could play out.
Hurricane Irma Linked to Climate Change? For Some, a Very ‘Insensitive’ Question.
Lisa Friedman, The New York Times
Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, says it is insensitive to discuss climate change in the midst of deadly storms. For scientists, drawing links between warming global temperatures and the ferocity of hurricanes is about as controversial as talking about geology after an earthquake.
Trump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job
Timothy Cama, The Hill
William Wehrum, an energy industry attorney and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, has been tapped to fulfill one of the agency’s most consequential roles. President Trump formally nominated Wehrum Thursday to be the EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, where he would oversee a massive portfolio concerned with air pollution, climate change, auto regulation and more.
Sen. Tom Carper pitches Trump a deal to soften stance on climate change
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner
Democratic Sen. Tom Carper is willing to meet President Trump half way on his administration’s plans to create a so-called “red team” to debate the science of climate change, but only if he makes it an exercise about “climate preparedness” instead of questioning science. Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a rare letter to President Trump on Friday looking to leverage the record-breaking hurricane season to get the administration to soften its stance on climate change with some minor concessions.
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
Conspiracies, Corruption and Climate
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
In a way, we should be grateful to Limbaugh for at least raising the subject of climate change and its relationship to hurricanes, if only because it’s a topic the Trump administration is trying desperately to avoid. For example, Scott Pruitt, the pollution- and polluter-friendly head of the Environmental Protection Agency, says that now is not the time to bring up the subject — that doing so is “insensitive” to the people of Florida.
The war on coal communities: strip mining
Jack Doyle, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the coalfields of Appalachia, and in policy circles in Washington, D.C., a popular phrase in recent years used by mine workers, coal lobbyists and President Donald Trump is the “war on coal.” But there is a war going on — a war on coal communities — and it’s called strip mining.
Trump says he cares about people in coal country. So why halt a study on their health?
Editorial Board, The Washington Post
One would imagine that the Trump administration, which swept into power claiming to support the people who live in coal country, would prioritize federal spending on those very people’s health. Instead, the Interior Department has halted a study on how so-called mountaintop-removal coal mining affects people who live around these landscape-stripping operations.
U.S. Solar Market Insight
Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research
Each quarter, GTM Research gathers a complete account of industry trends in the U.S. photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) markets via comprehensive surveys of installers, manufacturers, utilities and state agencies.
Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Aggregations in Wholesale Markets
Emily Fisher et al., The Smart Electric Power Alliance and The Edison Electric Institute
As a result of advancements in technology, customer expectations, and state and federal policy goals, the electric power sector is evolving. Integrating DERs into the wholesale markets could shake up the system and require changes to the way the bulk power system works to ensure that electric distribution companies can continue to provide reliable power to customers and operate the grid effectively.