Energy Brief: Perry Talks Cross-Border Energy Trading in Mexico

Washington Brief

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry discussed North American energy strategy on a diplomatic trip to Mexico City, encouraging Mexican Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell to support nuclear energy and changing regulations to favor cross-border electricity trading. (Reuters)
  • Support for the Paris climate agreement from U.S. mayors and governors may be unconstitutional and interpreted as entering into a foreign treaty. The support would be in opposition to President Donald Trump’s decision to end the U.S. commitment to the agreement. (CNBC)
  • In a bipartisan effort to acknowledge the risk of climate change, House legislators voted to keep a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that identifies climate change as a national security risk and requires impact research from the Department of Defense. (Axios)

Business Brief

  • NRG Energy Inc. shares surged 29 percent following the announcement of a company move away from renewable energy starting with a $2.5 billion to 4 billion sale of renewable energy assets.  (E&E News)
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted the Environmental Protection Agency 14 days to enforce an Obama administration methane emissions rule as the EPA considers further legal action. The court ruled that the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt could not delay the rule while the agency reconsidered it. (Platts)
  • A White House official said the U.S. would use the United Nations-backed Green Climate Fund, meant for nations affected by climate change, to encourage construction in developing countries of high-efficiency coal plants that use carbon capture technology. The U.S. donated $1 billion to the fund before President Barack Obama left office, giving the country veto power over proposals for fund access.  (Bloomberg)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Friday
House Natural Resources subcommittee on federal lands legislative hearing on four bills 9 a.m.
Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts Conference 9 a.m.
National Science Teachers Association STEM Forum workshop on EPA research 11 a.m.

 

General

U.S. energy secretary in Mexico eyes cooperation
Gabriel Stargardter, Reuters

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry promised on Thursday to promote cross-border electricity trade and investment with Mexico and said he expected talks aimed at updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to proceed quickly.

US appeals court grants EPA a temporary delay on methane rule
Brian Scheid, Platts

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the US Environmental Protection Agency can temporarily delay a rule limiting methane emissions from new oil and natural gas wells as it considers an appeal of an earlier court ruling forcing the agency to enforce the rule.

Two national monuments are no longer up for review, Interior says. That leaves 25.
Darryl Fears, The Washington Post

In a statement, Zinke announced that the 195,000-acre Hanford Reach National Monument in south-central Washington and the 460,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho “are no longer under review” as part of President Trump’s order in April that more than two dozen monument designations be reconsidered.

Trump taps industry lawyer to lead energy commission
Timothy Cama, The Hill

President Trump is planning to name an energy industry attorney to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Trump announced the pick of Kevin McIntyre for FERC late Thursday. McIntyre is the co-head of the energy practice at Jones Day, a global law firm that has sent numerous attorneys to the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn.

Oil firm as signs of higher demand outweigh worries of excess
Libby George, Reuters

Oil prices edged higher in choppy trading on Friday and were on track for solid weekly gains following positive demand signals and a reported decline in stocks. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil, were 27 cents higher at $48.69 per barrel at 0915 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $46.31 per barrel, 23 cents higher.

Oil and Natural Gas

U.S. Boost to Oil Drilling Will Barely Dent Russia’s Energy Monolith
Georgi Kantchev and Lynn Cook, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump is touting his policies to boost energy production and exports as a bulwark against Russia. But some industry observers say the U.S. shale boom—which reshaped world markets for crude oil and natural gas before Mr. Trump took office—has only limited impact on Russia’s standing as a major energy provider to Europe and Asia.

Eni Gets Green Light for Exploration Drilling in Arctic
Iulia Gheorghiu, Morning Consult

The Trump administration cleared Italian oil company Eni’s lease plan for Arctic drilling in its first significant move to open up greater areas of the United States for energy production. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted Eni an exploratory lease in an announcement Wednesday evening.

Utilities and Infrastructure

New Study Finds Use Of Community Choice Energy Feasible
Claire Trageser, KPBS News

San Diego’s Climate Action Plan lays out the goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. The final draft of the feasibility study released Thursday found community choice is one pathway to get there. The study found community choice would not only get the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, but also would generally lower electricity costs.

California Zero-Carbon Power Bill Advances
Jason Fordney, RTO Insider

A California State Senate bill that would require utilities to obtain 100% of their electricity from zero-carbon sources by the end of 2045 advanced through a key committee in the legislature’s lower house on Wednesday. The bill retains qualifying resources such as wind, solar, geothermal and others currently under the state’s renewable portfolio standard for the first 60% of the requirement, a threshold power sellers must meet by 2030.

Renewables

NRG sees cash in its future as it moves from renewables
Edward Klump, E&E News

NRG Energy Inc., no stranger to dramatic overhauls, is embarking on a new plan to cut costs and boost cash while looking to narrow or even exit its well-known renewables business. The transformation described yesterday by NRG envisions $2.5 billion to $4 billion from expected asset sales to help make it a simpler and stronger company.

Trump: Not joking about solar wall
Rafael Bernal, The Hill

President Trump said Thursday his administration is considering equipping his proposed border wall with solar panels to generate electricity. Democrats have threatened to derail any budget proposal that includes specific funding for construction of new stretches of the wall.

Elon Musk Exposes Deep Coal Divide in Australia
Perry Williams and Jason Scott, Bloomberg

Elon Musk’s intervention in Australia’s energy crisis is widening a divide over the future of coal. The billionaire Tesla Inc. founder, who has promised to help solve an Australian state’s clean energy obstacles, sees no place for the fossil fuel.

Coal

Trump Wants to Steer UN Climate Cash Toward Building Coal Plants
Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg

The U.S. will seek to use a United Nations fund designed to aid nations hard hit by climate change to promote the construction of coal-fired power plants around the world. The U.S. already donated $1 billion to the so-called Green Climate Fund, and it can now use its seat on that board to advance American-energy interests globally, a White House official said.

Nuclear

Why Nuclear Power, Once Cash Cow, Now Has Tin Cup
Jim Polson, Bloomberg

A decade ago, nuclear power plants in the U.S. were cash cows. Now more than half of them are bleeding cash, knocked from profitability by the shale-gas glut that’s tanked electricity prices. Five nuclear plants were closed prematurely in the past five years, and more are on the chopping block.

Dominion pushes inclusion of Millstone nuke provisions in Connecticut budget bill
Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

Despite a last-minute push from Dominion and a 23-7 vote in the Senate, the Connecticut House of Representatives in June failed to pass a bill that would have directed energy officials to evaluate whether to hold a special power procurement process for the sole nuclear plant in the state. Dominion’s efforts are being countered by a group of generators who sent a letter to Connecticut legislative leaders, saying the proposed supports would be costly and unnessary.

Climate

States fighting Trump on climate find new foe: US Constitution
Zachary Basu, CNBC

More than 200 cities and at least 12 states have announced their plans to support the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s June bombshell to withdraw from the climate accord. But the anti-Trump climate alliance may have overlooked a crucial impediment — it may be unconstitutional.

Dozens of Republicans side with Dems on climate vote
Ben German, Axios

Forty-six House Republicans joined Democrats Thursday to protect language in defense policy legislation that calls climate change a “direct threat” to national security and requires new Defense Department analysis of its effect on the military. The House voted 185-234 against GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have stripped the language in the bill requiring the study.

Trump, Macron fail to break deadlock on Paris climate deal
Devin Henry, The Hill

A Thursday meeting between President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron did not yield a breakthrough on the Paris climate deal, the leaders said Thursday. Macron has been one of the most vocal supporters of the Paris deal and a loud critic of Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal.

Scientists see proposed climate debates as a trap
Emily Holden, E&E News

Climate scientists are perplexed by U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s plans to challenge their work. They see it as a trap with no escape: Participating in the critique would lend the minority of researchers who question mainstream climate science an oversized microphone. But refusing the invitation to debate their findings could give the impression they’re hiding something or leave skeptics’ assertions unopposed.

Asian countries are warned of climate catastrophe
Michael Peel, The Financial Times

Damage ranging from falling crop yields to bleaching of coral reefs will affect millions of people and add billions of dollars to food import costs, according to the Asian Development Bank research published on Friday. It comes after leading international banks this week pledged to examine their exposure to risks related to climate change.

A Message from the Center for Western Priorities:

America protects its most iconic land for all time, from the Grand Canyon to Acadia, and from the Statue of Liberty to Zion. But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is planning to eviscerate America’s treasured national monuments, ignoring the more than 9 out of 10 Americans who’ve told Secretary Zinke: Keep your hands off of American public lands. Visit Monuments to America to learn more.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

President Trump’s Budget Threatens US Energy Innovation
Emily Reichert, Morning Consult

Just as clean energy begins to take flight in the U.S., President Donald Trump is threatening to ground it by eliminating programs which help drive research, development and deployment of clean energy. His disappointing budget plan for 2018, if allowed to proceed, would hinder not just wind and solar power advances, but a whole range of clean energy and cleantech innovations the nation needs to stay competitive, secure and prepared in a rapidly changing world.

Comprehensive vulnerability assessment is key to protecting the grid from cyberattacks
Stan Pietrowicz and Tony Bogovic, Utility Dive

Calls for increased cybersecurity are putting pressure on organizations across industries. We’ve seen hackers target entertainment, retail and government organizations. These incidents brought cybersecurity into the spotlight and created a sense of urgency for executives to bolster security efforts.

Trump Has Putin Over a Barrel
Larry Kudlow, CNS News

Many say Putin is the richest man in Russia, worth billions and billions. But with energy prices falling, Putin’s Russia has essentially been in a recession over the past four years.

A Message from the Center for Western Priorities:

By a 9-to-1 margin, Utah residents are telling Interior Secretary Zinke to keep Bears Ears and Grand Staircase–Escalante national monuments. These lands are sacred to tribal nations, enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, and critical to local Utah economies. Will he listen to Utahns or just special interests? Visit Monuments to America to learn more.

Research Reports

A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific
Kira Vinke et al., Asian Development Bank

The Asia and Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Unabated warming could significantly undo previous achievements of economic development and improvements of living standards. The Asia and Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Unabated warming could significantly undo previous achievements of economic development and improvements of living standards.

Briefings

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