Energy Brief: Judge Denies Request to Halt Dakota Access Construction

Washington Brief

  • A federal judge denied a request to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, though he left open the possibility of a stoppage in the future. (The Washington Post)
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed cloture on confirmation votes for Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to lead the Department of the Interior, among others. (The Hill)
  • Seven Senate Democrats wrote to the White House counsel warning that adviser Carl Icahn has a conflict of interest as an owner of CVR Energy stock who advises President Donald Trump on the Renewable Fuel Standard. (CNN Money)

Business Brief

  • China is considering taking further steps to reduce smog, including possibly requiring steel and aluminum producers to cut more output and banning coal in a major port, according to a draft policy document. (Reuters)
  • Wind turbines supplied more than half of the electricity in the Great Plains region on Sunday, the first time it has surpassed that landmark. (Bloomberg News)
  • The utilities that own the Navajo Generating Station, a significant employer on the Navajo Nation that is also one of the top polluting plants in the country, announced they will close the plant in 2019. (Arizona Republic)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
NARUC Winter Meeting 8:30 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on self-driving cars 10:15 a.m.
House Rules Committee meeting on resolution of disapproval on Interior 3 p.m.
Wednesday
NARUC Winter Meeting 8:30 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Endangered Species Act 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on energy transmission 10 a.m.
House Science subcommittee hearing on DOE loan guarantees 10 a.m.
Atlantic Council event on U.S. and German power sector transitions 12:30 p.m.
Thursday
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on infrastructure and environmental laws 10 a.m.
House Science Committee hearing on NASA 10 a.m.
CSIS event on oil and gas markets 10 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

General

Federal judge rejects request to block Dakota Access pipeline — for now
Steven Mufson and Spencer S. Hsu, The Washington Post

A District of Columbia federal judge on Monday turned down a request to temporarily block construction on the Dakota Access pipeline, saying there would not be any risk of immediate harm until oil starts flowing. But U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, while denying a request by two Native American Lakota tribes for a temporary restraining order, ordered the pipeline company to provide weekly updates about when it expected oil to begin flowing, leaving open the possibility of further court intervention.

McConnell sets up votes on six Trump nominees
Jordain Carney, The Hill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is teeing up votes on six additional Trump nominees as Republicans try to end a Democratic slow walk of the president’s picks. McConnell filed cloture on Monday night for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Wilbur Ross to head the Commerce Department, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to be the Interior secretary, Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be Energy secretary.

Carl Icahn’s Trump role creates ‘unacceptable risk’ of conflicts: Senators
Matt Egan, CNN Money

President Trump has tapped Carl Icahn to help him get rid of “strangling regulations” that are hurting the American economy. Of course, gutting some of those federal rules will also mean big profits for Icahn.

Evacuations below Oroville Dam remain in effect as officials try to make repairs before new storms
Los Angeles Times

More than 100,000 people were told to evacuate from areas near Oroville Dam in Northern California on Sunday because officials feared that an emergency spillway could fail, sending huge amounts of water into the Feather River, which runs through downtown Oroville, and other waterways. But by late Sunday night, officials said the immediate threat had passed.

Has this year’s record rain finally ended California’s epic drought? Not really.
Darryl Fears, The Washington Post

After praying for rain over five dry years, Californians are now praying for a break. The drama caused by massive amounts of precipitation raises a question: Is California’s epic, record-setting drought, five years long, finally over? The answer is yes and no.

Stocks, Dollar Falter as Investors Await Yellen
Cecile Gutscher and Natasha Doff, Bloomberg News

A global rally that sent U.S. benchmarks surging to a fresh round of records stalled as markets turned their attention to Janet Yellen for clues on how quickly she’ll tighten monetary policy amid expected pro-growth measures by the White House. Treasuries steadied.

Oil and Natural Gas

Oil Producers Comply With OPEC Deal to Cut Output, but for How Long?
Stanley Reed, The New York Times

When OPEC and other major oil exporters agreed late last year to limit production as a way to bolster teetering prices, many saw it as a shaky deal by a spent force. That perception, though, has changed.

Tesla’s Electric Cars Arrive in the Home of Cheap Gas
Deena Kamel, Bloomberg News

Tesla Inc. is expanding to the United Arab Emirates, making a move to sell its pricey electric cars in one of the world’s largest oil-producing nations. The company is taking orders for the Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle for summer delivery.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Upset over PUC’s solar decision, LePage wishes regulators would resign
Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald

Gov. Paul LePage said Friday that he believes the three members of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission should resign and called for expanding the panel’s membership in response to a solar energy decision that he predicted will have “a devastating impact on the state.” However, advocates for Maine’s solar industry dismissed the governor’s statements while predicting that the PUC decision did not go far enough and will limit – not foster – solar energy’s growth in the state.

Renewables

For the First Time, Wind on the Plains Supplied More Than Half Region’s Power
Chris Martin, Bloomberg News

Wind turbines across the Great Plains states produced, for the first time, more than half the region’s electricity Sunday. The power grid that supplies a corridor stretching from Montana to the Texas Panhandle was getting 52.1 percent of its power from wind at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, Little Rock, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool Inc. said in a statement Monday.

Wind, Hydropower Groups Both Claim Mantle as America’s Top Renewable
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

The race between wind power and hydropower to be the U.S.’s top source of renewable energy has come down to technicalities. The American Wind Energy Association announced last week that wind energy had surpassed conventional hydropower to be the top renewable source of installed electrical capacity.

Coal

China mulls radical output cuts, port coal ban in war on smog – document
Meng Meng and Josephine Mason, Reuters

China is considering forcing steel and aluminum producers to cut more output, banning coal in one of the country’s top ports and shutting some fertilizer and drug plants as Beijing intensifies its war on smog, a draft policy document shows. The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has proposed the measures in the document seen by Reuters.

Utilities vote to close Navajo coal plant at end of 2019
Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic

The utilities that own the Navajo Generating Station coal-fired power plant near Page are tired of overpaying for power and decided Monday to close the plant when their lease expires at the end of 2019. To run that long, the utility owners need to work out an arrangement with the Navajo Nation, which owns the land, to decommission the plant after the lease expires.

Government likely to divest upto 10 per cent in Coal India
Economic Times

The government plans to divest up to 10 per cent in Coal IndiaBSE -1.17 % by August, a move that will help it earn about Rs 20,000 crore at today’s prices and reduce its stake to 69 per cent. The government is likely to divest between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

Nuclear

Toshiba shares fall 9.5% after company delays earnings announcement
Alice Woodhouse, Financial Times

Shares in Toshiba slipped further in afternoon trading after the company failed to release its scheduled earnings report, which had been set to provide further details on the financial troubles at its nuclear business. Toshiba’ stock fell 9.5 per cent following the the company’s failure to release figures as scheduled for noon in Tokyo.

Toshiba’s Nuclear Reactor Mess Winds Back to a Louisiana Swamp
Jason Clenfield and Yuji Nakamura, Bloomberg News

If you want to understand why Toshiba Corp. is about to report a multi-billion dollar write-down on its nuclear reactor business, the story begins and ends with a one-time pipe manufacturer with roots in the swamp country of Louisiana. The Shaw Group Inc., based in Baton Rouge, looms large in the complex tale of blown deadlines and budgets at four nuclear reactor projects in Georgia and South Carolina overseen by Westinghouse Electric Co., a Toshiba subsidiary.

China Set To Resume Work On Nuclear Power Plants
Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.com

In order to cater to growing power demand, China is likely to begin construction on inland nuclear reactors in the next four years, resuming plans for nuclear power plants that were halted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, a senior energy official told Chinese media on Monday. China has already decided which locations would host its inland nuclear power plants, Wang Yiren, vice director of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, and vice-chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, has told China National Radio in an interview.

Climate

Scientists discover pollution 10,000 meters below the ocean’s surface in the Mariana Trench
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post

Scientists have discovered the presence of chemical pollutants in some of the ocean’s deepest trenches, previously thought to be nearly untouched by human influence. In fact, they’ve found levels of contamination in some marine organisms living there that rival some of the most polluted waterways on the planet.

A Message from the American Wind Energy Association:

Wind energy powers over 100,000 American jobs, including more than 25,000 made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs in over 500 factories. Wind works for America, powering new factory orders across the Rust Belt with tens of billions of dollars a year in private investment across rural America. Learn more about how wind energy powers the Rust Belt comeback at awea.org/windworksforamerica.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Paradigm Shift: Wind Energy Can Be the New Baseload
Kelley Welf, Morning Consult

Exciting news came at a recent energy policy forum in Minnesota when David Saggau, CEO of Great River Energy, which provides energy to 28 electric co-ops in Minnesota, stated that he sees wind quickly becoming the new baseload. “In the past, we tended to think of our coal resources as baseload and every other resource being supplemental to that,” said Saggau.

How To Cruise Through a Frozen Gas Market
Liam Denning, Bloomberg Gadfly

GasLog Partners LP is an unsexy business operating in decidedly ugly times. So, naturally, it’s worth a look.

A Message from the American Wind Energy Association:

Wind energy powers over 100,000 American jobs, and American wind companies hire veterans at a 50% higher rate than the average U.S. industry. Wind powers the rust belt comeback with more than 25,000 made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs in over 500 factories, and tens of billions of dollars a year in private investment across rural America. Learn more about wind-powered American jobs at awea.org/windworksforamerica

Research Reports

Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the deepest ocean fauna
Alan J. Jamieson et al., Nature Ecology & Evolution

The legacy and reach of anthropogenic influence is most clearly evidenced by its impact on the most remote and inaccessible habitats on Earth. Here we identify extraordinary levels of persistent organic pollutants in the endemic amphipod fauna from two of the deepest ocean trenches (>10,000 metres).