Energy Brief: Lawsuit Over Trump’s Rule on New Regulations May Face Uphill Battle

Washington Brief

  • Legal experts say the groups suing over President Donald Trump’s executive order requiring two regulations to be rescinded for every new one could face an uphill battle in blocking it, because agencies haven’t acted on it yet. (Greenwire)
  • Ted Halstead, founder of the Climate Leadership Council that pitched White House aides on a carbon tax and dividend system, said Trump’s advisers “really understood the policy,” and that they “gave some favorable comments about it.” (Bloomberg News)
  • Trump repeated his complaint that the U.S. did not seize oil during the Iraq war, saying, “We never even kept a small, even a tiny oil well.” (The Hill)

Business Brief

  • The Appalachian region is expected to continue losing coal-mining jobs in the near future, while a small part of Wyoming is likely to benefit from an expected increase in demand for coal. (CNBC)
  • Renewable energy sources comprised about 90 percent of the newly installed power added to Europe’s electricity grids in 2016. (The Guardian)
  • Wind energy surpassed conventional hydropower to become the top renewable energy in the U.S. by installed capacity, as of the end of 2016. (Morning Consult)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

National Electric Transmission Infrastructure Summit 8 a.m.



Trump order will be hard to overturn — legal experts
Amanda Reilly, Greenwire

A lawsuit challenging President Trump’s executive order requiring federal agencies to scrap two regulations for every new one created may face an uphill road in the courts, say legal experts. Yesterday, environmental and public interest groups charged in a federal complaint that both the order and an associated guidance document are unconstitutional.

White House plans directive targeting ‘conflict minerals’ rule: sources
Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson, Reuters

President Donald Trump is planning to issue a directive targeting a controversial Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain “conflict minerals” from a war-torn part of Africa, according to sources familiar with the administration’s thinking. Reuters could not learn precisely when the directive would be issued or what the final version would say.

States step up campaign for repeal of water rule
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

Increasingly impatient state utility regulators want Congress to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water rule, which significantly expands the agency’s jurisdiction and would delay power plant construction and other energy development. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, representing all 50 states’ energy regulators, sent a letter to congressional Republican and Democratic leaders urging them to take all available action to upend the EPA’s authority under the Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS.

Inhofe to play key infrastructure role
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is back as a chairman on the Senate environment committee, leading a panel that will be key to meeting President Trump’s infrastructure goals. Inhofe had been the long-serving Republican chairman and ranking member on the full committee until the end of last year, when Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., took the helm of the influential committee.

Bonds Slump as Dollar Boosted by Trump Tax Pledge
Natasha Doff, Bloomberg News

Bonds fell and the dollar rose against most of its peers as reflation trades came back into focus after a promise by U.S. President Donald Trump to overhaul business taxes. Banking stocks led European equities lower as political risk plagued the region.

Oil and Natural Gas

Trump: We spent $6T in Middle East and didn’t even get a ‘tiny oil well’
Jordan Fabian, The Hill

President Trump on Thursday doubled down on his comments the U.S. should have taken oil from the Middle East during its wars there. “We’ve spent $6 trillion … in the Middle East,” Trump said during a meeting with airline executives at the White House.

Total proposes raising dividend for first time since 2014
Andrew Ward, Financial Times

Total on Thursday proposed raising its dividend for the first time since 2014 after reporting better than expected fourth-quarter results. But the French energy group said that it would continue cutting costs in anticipation of more oil price volatility.

Occidental Petroleum Increases Production Sequentially
Austen Hufford, The Wall Street Journal

Occidental Petroleum Corp. reported a quarterly loss and revenue decline from the year prior, as realized prices rose but production fell. Still on a sequential basis, production increased for the first time in more than a year.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Governor names Atterholt chief utility regulator
Indianapolis Business Journal

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday announced Jim Atterholt, former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, will once again serve in that role. Atterholt will replace former IURC Chairwoman Carol Stephan, who stepped down Jan. 1 after 2-1/2 years.

Fitzgerald says he wants to look at ending utility tax
The Associated Press

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he wants to consider eliminating a utility tax that Wisconsin residents pay on electric bills. Fitzgerald said Thursday at a luncheon that he thinks that could be a more effective tax cut that a $200 million cut to the state income tax that Gov. Scott Walker is proposing.


Almost 90% of new power in Europe from renewable sources in 2016
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels. But industry leaders said they were worried about the lack of political support beyond 2020, when binding EU renewable energy targets end.

Wind Energy Surpasses Hydropower as Top Source of Renewable Capacity
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

Wind power surpassed conventional hydropower as the country’s top source of installed renewable electricity capacity in 2016, the American Wind Energy Association said Thursday. There were 82,183 megawatts of installed electrical capacity from wind energy throughout the U.S. at the end of last year, according to AWEA’s market report for the fourth quarter.

Big utilities try to tilt solar energy market in their favor
Brian Slodyski, The Associated Press

Indiana’s energy utilities want state lawmakers to pass a law that critics say would muscle out smaller companies from the emerging solar energy market. Solar power provides only about 1 percent of the country’s energy, but the industry is growing rapidly, with figures showing it employed 208,859 workers in 2015.


A bounce in US coal production won’t help many coal country Trump voters
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC

U.S. coal production is forecast to rise slightly in the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, but many Trump voters in coal country will not see job gains. In fact, the Appalachian region — which Trump carried handily — could lose more than 1,000 coal mining jobs in the next two years, according to one analysis.

Bangladesh bets on coal to meet rising energy demand
Kamran Reza Chowdhury, Climate Home

On 1 February, Bangladesh’s energy minister Nasrul Hamid gave a speech outlining the government’s plan to massively expand energy production through coal. He spoke about a slew of mega projects being built with the assistance of China, Japan and India, but said little about Bangladesh’s failure to expand its renewable energy sector.

Scott Morrison Brought A Lump Of Coal And Waved It Around In Parliament
Josh Butler, Huffington Post Australia

On Thursday, the government seemed to delight in Wednesday’s news that South Australia, which relies massively on renewable energy, experienced rolling blackouts during high heat as power demand outstripped supply. Then, inexplicably, treasurer Scott Morrison took centre stage and pulled out a lump of coal.


South Carolina’s $100M Nuclear Claim Against Feds Dismissed
Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press

A federal judge has put a stop, for now, to South Carolina’s pursuit of $100 million in fines the state says it’s owed by the federal government over an unfinished plutonium processing project. U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs ruled that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is the proper forum for the state’s money demands.

Nuclear CEO says industry at ‘tipping point’
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The nuclear industry’s top lobbyist told Wall Street analysts Thursday that the industry has reached a “tipping point” in gaining Washington’s attention to keep nuclear power plants from closing. “We are reaching a tipping point as policymakers have come to appreciate the risk of losing nuclear plants,” said Maria Korsnick, the new president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute.


This Man Wants to Sell Republicans on a Carbon Tax
Eric Roston, Bloomberg News

Not everything went perfectly for Ted Halstead this week. When the limousine he shared with James Baker—former secretary of state, Treasury, and two-time presidential chief of staff—pulled up to the White House on Wednesday, an access issue for the driver halted them at the gate.

Congressmen Deutch, Curbelo seek bipartisan attention on climate change
Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Climate change may be off the radar with the Trump administration but a pair of Florida congressmen are trying to make it a bipartisan concern on Capitol Hill. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, chair the “Climate Solutions Caucus,” which today announced four new members, including Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg.

Lawmakers strip climate change references from new Idaho K-12 science standards
Kimberlee Kruesi, The Associated Press

An Idaho House panel has approved new K-12 science standards, but only after striking key references to climate change caused by human behavior. This is the third year the Idaho Legislature has struggled to agree on science standards for public schools.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

A Republican Carbon Tax
The Editorial Board, Bloomberg View

Some Republicans have grown tired of fighting the rest of the world on climate change. As economists, religious and military leaders, ordinary Americans and even oil companies have joined the push to lower greenhouse-gas emissions, Republicans have, for the most part, resisted.

Research Reports

Climate science: Ocean circulation drove increase in CO2 uptake
Sara E. Mikaloff Fletcher, Nature

The ocean’s uptake of carbon dioxide increased during the 2000s. Models reveal that this was driven primarily by weak circulation in the upper ocean, solving a mystery of ocean science.