Energy Brief: New U.N. Sanctions Against North Korea Cap Oil Imports


Government Brief

  • The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to pass the toughest-ever set of sanctions against North Korea, a move that caps oil imports. To gain Russia and China’s support, the United States softened the initial demands of the new sanctions, which come on top of previous bans on North Korean exports. (The Washington Post)
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said he sent an inquiry to the French company Arkema regarding its risk management plan filed under a section of the Clean Air Act. The EPA is seeking information on whether Arkema complied with the plan it submitted to the federal government, and if the company was adequately prepared for the flooding from Hurricane Harvey that caused the explosions and chemical fires at its Crosby, Texas, plant. (Washington Examiner)
  • Tom Bossert, President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser, said it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to comment on whether climate change is linked to hurricanes Harvey, Irma or Jose. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Bossert said he could not determine causality, but he noted that hurricane seasons occur cyclically and that sea levels are rising. (The Hill)

Business Brief

  • Ten oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast remain partially shut down, and five remain shuttered, due to damage from Hurricane Harvey, according to S&P Global Platts, which estimated that 13 percent of refining capacity — or 2.4 million barrels per day — is offline as a result of flooding, power outages and other disruptions. (CNN)
  • The head of Florida Power & Light Co., the state’s largest utility, said Hurricane Irma would have caused more customers to lose power, and for longer periods, if the company had not invested $3 billion since 2006 to improve the grid system. Of the 6.5 million customers who experienced power outages related to the storm, about 4 million were FPL customers. (Politico)
  • Solar industry leaders reached a settlement with Utah’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power, that would lead to an extra charge for energy consumers to reimburse residents with solar panels for the energy they put on the grid. Authors of the settlements said the temporary charge would amount to only a few cents on monthly bills, but opponents said it’s unfair to non-solar customers. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Chart Review

U.S. PV Installation Forecast by Segment, 2010-2022E
Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
CSIS, George W. Bush Presidential Center event on NAFTA’s future 9 a.m.
Atlantic Council event on geopolitics of natural gas 9 a.m.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions webinar on companies pricing carbon 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on recreation on federal lands, SHARE Act 10 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee oversight hearing on the Department of Energy’s National Labs 3 p.m.
House Natural Resources Committee markup 4 p.m.
Wednesday
House Natural Resources Committee markup 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on carbon capture, utilization, sequestration 10 a.m.
CSIS event on the future of Japan’s nuclear energy program 1 p.m.
Thursday
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions event on innovations in carbon capture and use 8:30 a.m.
EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2017 presentation 10 a.m.
Friday
The Midwest Energy Storage Summit 7:30 a.m.
National Capital Area Council’s lunch presentation on battery storage and the power sector 12 p.m.
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General

EPA opens inquiry into Arkema chemical plant explosion after Harvey flooding
Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

The Environmental Protection Agency has opened an inquiry into whether the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas followed federal safety rules to protect against hazards, following explosions at the facility that resulted from Hurricane Harvey flooding. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told the Washington Examiner on Monday he authorized a request for information to Arkema under Section 114 of the Clean Air Act about whether the company complied with a risk management plan filed with the federal government.

Will Trump’s tough trade talk sabotage his energy goals?
Peter Behr, E&E News

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer led his negotiating team to Mexico City for the second round of NAFTA talks, saying last week that progress is being made. In an interview with reporters there, Lighthizer made it clear that Trump’s negotiating demands form a bottom line for the U.S. position.

An Undervalued New Player in the Energy Industry
Spencer Jakab, The Wall Street Journal

If they gave out grades for corporate names, “ Baker Hughes, a GE Company” would get a D-minus.  As the name suggests, the new company is the result of an unusually structured merger between General Electric ’s energy business and oil-services company Baker Hughes.

Oil and Natural Gas

U.N. agrees to toughest-ever sanctions against North Korea
Carol Morello et al., The Washington Post

The U.N. Security Council on Monday agreed on its toughest-ever sanctions against North Korea that passed unanimously after the United States softened its initial demands to win support from China and Russia. The sanctions set limits on North Korea’s oil imports and banned its textile exports in an effort to deprive the reclusive nation of the income it needs to maintain its nuclear and ballistic missile program and increase the pressure to negotiate a way out of punishing sanctions.

Texas oil refineries still badly hurting from Harvey
Matt Egan, CNN

Five oil refineries remain shuttered as of Monday, according to S&P Global Platts, an energy research firm. Refinery comeback efforts have been disrupted by flooding, damage, power outages and challenges created by the sudden nature of some shutdowns.

Oil prices slip on demand concerns following U.S. hurricanes
Libby George and Fanny Potkin, Reuters

Oil prices softened on Tuesday as Hurricane Irma’s dampening effect on demand offset refinery restarts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. International benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 fell by 35 cents to $53.49 per barrel by 0847 GMT from the previous close.

BP Files for New York IPO of Pipeline Assets
Sarah Kent, The Wall Street Journal

BP PLC is moving forward with plans to float some of its vast network of U.S. pipelines in a move that would spin out cash from the company’s infrastructure assets across America. In a filing with the SEC on Monday, the company’s subsidiary BP Midstream Partners LP said it was planning an initial offering on the New York Stock Exchange of up to $100 million.

Gov. Mead to dedicate Wyoming natural gas filling station
The Associated Press

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead will be among those on hand for the opening of Teton County’s first compressed natural gas station. Spearheaded by Energy Conservation Works, the natural gas station opening Monday was brought to fruition via a partnership of Lower Valley Energy, the town of Jackson, Teton County, Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities and the Wyoming Business Council.

California energy interests set to square off over Puente natural gas plant
Robert Walton, Utility Dive

A battle is brewing in southern California between a utility planning to build a new natural gas plant and clean energy advocates who say solar and storage facilities could provide the power for cheaper. At issue is the Puente Power Project, a 262 MW natural gas plant to serve Southern California Edison that was approved last year to replace older generation set to be pulled offline in 2020.

Utilities and Infrastructure

FPL says grid improvements helped avoid more widespread power outages
Bruce Ritchie, Politico

Hurricane Irma could have caused more widespread power outages for longer periods if Florida Power & Light Co. had not spent $3 billion to improve the energy grid, the head of the state’s largest utility said Monday. Power, however, was out for 6.5 million customers, or 65 percent of customers statewide, as the former Hurricane Irma moved into South Georgia as a tropical storm, leaving a path of destruction behind in the Sunshine State.

Trump Taps CSX, McClure Execs To Pipeline, Highway Posts
Linda Chiem, Law360

President Donald Trump has nominated a veteran freight rail executive from CSX Transportation Inc. to serve as administrator of the nation’s pipeline safety regulator and picked the president of McClure Engineering Co. to serve as administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, the White House said Friday. Howard R. Elliott, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. freight rail industry who has spent the last decade as CSX Transportation’s group vice president of public safety, health, environment and security in Jacksonville, Florida.

Witnesses Offer Alternate Realities on Need for PURPA Reform
Rich Heidorn Jr., RTO Insider

A House of Representatives subcommittee last week heard two seemingly alternate realities on the need for reforming the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). Utility witnesses, who contended the bill is obsolete and an albatross for consumers, cited abuses of FERC’s 1-mile and 20-MW thresholds for must-purchase requirements.

Renewables

Settlement would let Rocky Mountain Power charge nonsolar customers to pay for rooftop solar power
Emma Penrod, The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s Rocky Mountain Power customers could end up paying more directly for power generated by their neighbors’ solar panels under the terms of the company’s recent settlement with the solar industry. The settlement has been praised for preserving, at least for now, most of the financial credits that customers with rooftop solar arrays receive from Rocky Mountain Power when they generate surplus electricity.

Experts wary of possible import tariffs on solar panels
Todd Prince, The Las Vegas Review-Journal

As nearly 20,000 solar power professionals gather this week for the industry’s largest U.S. conference, officials in Washington will be finalizing a decision that could ravage the industry like a tornado, executives and lobbyists say. The U.S. International Trade Commission will announce Sept. 22 whether it will impose tariffs on imported silicon cells and solar panels to protect domestic manufacturers.

Coal

Hillary Says ‘Putting Coal Out of Business’ Remark Was Her Biggest ‘Regret’
Chris White, The Daily Caller

The biggest regret former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had during the presidential campaign was telling blue collar people in Ohio that her presidency would put the coal industry out of business, according to an excerpt from the Democrat’s forthcoming book. Clinton blamed the media for blowing out of proportion comments she made in Ohio suggesting her presidency would end coal’s dominance in the energy markets.

AGL pressured to keep coal-fired plant running
Robb Stewart, MarketWatch

Plans by one of Australia’s largest utilities to phase out coal-fired power stations is running up against a government supportive of the fuel and eager to counter the threat of blackouts by extending the life of the company’s oldest plant. Under pressure from Canberra to run its Liddell plant in the coal-rich eastern Hunter Valley for five years beyond the slated 2022 closing date or sell it to another operator, AGL Energy Ltd. Chief Executive Andy Vesey said he had agreed to take the government’s request to his board.

Nuclear

FPL nuclear facilities weathered Irma without sustaining damage
Nicole Rodriguez, TCPalm

Reactors at Florida Power & Light Co.’s nuclear power plants sustained no damage while Category 3 Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in the state Sunday, but still aren’t fully active. A nuclear reactor at the St. Lucie plant on South Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce was shut down late Sunday for unspecified reasons.

Gamma radiation detectors: just one reminder of Zion’s nuclear legacy
Mary McIntyre, The Lake County News-Sun

The site opened in 1973 as a nuclear power plant and was closed in 1998. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency leases land in various locations around Zion for gamma radiation detectors.

Climate

Trump aide: Climate link to hurricane ‘outside my ability to analyze’
Timothy Cama, The Hill

President Trump’s homeland security adviser Monday avoided commenting on the link between climate change and the major hurricanes that have hit the United States in recent weeks. But Bossert did say that hurricane seasons are “cyclical,” which climate change skeptics have said shows that stronger seasons aren’t necessarily caused or exacerbated by human activity.

To get the lights back on in Florida, the US government is letting power plants break pollution laws
Zoë Schlanger, Quartz

Millions of people are currently without power across Florida after Hurricane Irma swept through the state. The US Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to all power plants in the state of Florida on Sunday (Sept. 10) granting them permission to temporarily ignore all limits on pollution while they try to fix that.

Gov. Inslee: Effects of climate change are creating ‘slow-motion disaster movie’
Peter Jones, CNN

The ongoing natural disasters that are ravaging both the western and gulf coasts of the United States should serve as a dire warning to the world about the consequences of climate change, especially with a “climate denier in the White House,” according to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee argued that it was “likely” and “fair” that global warming increased the strength of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which broke records for rainfall and windspeed, respectively.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Trump Is Leaving America Defenseless Against an Angry Mother Nature
Jared Blum, Morning Consult

For a contentious president who never seems to shy away from doing battle, President Donald Trump has removed many of the weapons this country has developed to combat dramatic climate disturbance. On Aug. 14, the Trump administration repealed requirements for environmental reviews and restrictions on government-funded building projects in flood-prone areas.

Time to build power plants in the city
Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, Crain’s New York Business

New York City is about to lose 25% of its electricity and yet little consideration is being given to a direct solution: build more power plants within the five boroughs. With the Indian Point nuclear plant set to close in 2021, taking with it a quarter of the city’s power, the clock is ticking for replacement power.

There’s no great answer for nuclear waste, but almost anything is better than perching it on the Pacific
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

One of the great failures in U.S. energy policy was that we’ve never figured out what to do with the lethally radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants. That’s why the owners of the decommissioned San Onofre nuclear plant have had little choice but to keep their spent fuel rods on site, bundled up in concrete bunkers at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, dangerously close to an earthquake fault and millions of people — and hope for the best until the federal government finds a good place to put the deadly waste.

Research Reports

Waiting can be an optimal conservation strategy, even in a crisis discipline
Gwenllian Iacona et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Every year, more species are driven to extinction by the combined pressures of habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change. With the right amount of delay, limited conservation resources can protect more species. Surprisingly, they can even do so in less time.

Briefings

Energy Brief: White House Denies Reports That U.S. Is Rethinking Paris Withdrawal

Three months after President Donald Trump said the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord without more favorable terms, the Trump administration is said to be considering remaining in the agreement. National security adviser H.R. McMaster denied that Trump is reconsidering his decision to pull out of the international accord, while noting that the door remains open for a better deal down the road.

Energy Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn will convene a meeting of energy and climate ministers from about a dozen countries on Monday, ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting this week, for an informal discussion on how they can “move forward productively” on international climate change negotiations.

Energy Brief: Valero ‘Significantly Underestimated’ Harvey-Related Benzene Leak at Houston Plant

Valero Energy Partners informed the EPA that the company thinks it “significantly underestimated” the amount of chemicals and benzene that leaked after a light crude storage tank’s roof was damaged at its Houston refinery as a result of Hurricane Harvey, according to a state official. Valero initially reported to the state that the spill released seven pounds of benzene, a carcinogenic chemical, into the air.

Energy Brief: Top White House Official to Discuss Climate Change With Ministers From About a Dozen Countries

The White House said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn will convene a meeting of energy and climate ministers from about a dozen countries next week ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting. The event will involve officials from the world’s largest economies for an informal discussion on how they can “move forward productively” on international climate change negotiations.

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