Energy Brief: Pruitt Says US Should Leave Paris Agreement

Washington Brief

  • Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said he wants the United States to exit the Paris climate agreement, in his strongest comments yet on the international accord. (InsideClimate News)
  • Pruitt also said protecting the environment was compatible with jobs and growth, and promised to end the “regulatory assault” on coal mining. (The Associated Press)
  • The EPA is postponing the start date of federal standards that curb toxic metals and other pollutants discharged by power plants. (E&E News)

Business Brief

  • Chevron is the latest company looking to shed its Canadian oil sands business, which could sell for $2.5 billion. Canadian Natural is seen as the logical buyer. (Reuters)
  • Tesla Inc. plans to launch an electric semi truck in September, and also wants to offer an electric pickup and sports car. (Bloomberg News)
  • Texas regulators said NextEra Energy’s purchase of Oncor, one of the largest electricity transmission firms in the country, would be against the public interest. (Wall Street Journal)

Chart Review

American energy use, in one diagram
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the Department of Energy

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

R Street discussion on fuel economy standards and emissions regulations 12 p.m.



More than 350 jobs at EPA unfilled during Trump hiring freeze
Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, CNN

The Trump administration’s hiring freeze meant more than 350 positions at the Environmental Protection Agency were left unfilled, newly released agency documents show, including more than 100 scientists in specialties like environmental science, life science, and physical science.

Pruitt’s friend joins agency as senior adviser
Kevin Bogardus and Mike Soraghan, E&E

A longtime colleague from U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s baseball and legal career is now a top official at the agency. Kenneth Wagner joined EPA last month as a senior adviser for regional and state affairs.

EPA, DOJ lawsuit vs. oil company shines light on Trump executive order
Andrew O’Reilly, Fox News

Attorneys for an energy company being sued by the federal government say lawyers for the Environmental Protection Agency are defying one of President Trump’s executive orders that, if obeyed, would essentially kill the agency’s lawsuit against the company.

Changing Bears Ears designation is no Western energy bonanza
Pamela King, E&E

Widespread oil and gas activity in southeast Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument is possible, but not probable, if the Trump administration makes any changes to the site’s designation.

Pruitt ends EPA gym memberships
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday that the days of gym memberships being paid for by the American taxpayer are over. Pruitt was on “Fox and Friends,” where he was asked about documents released Wednesday that show EPA employees spent more than $15,000 on gym memberships outside of the free services they were already being given.

Oil Prices Settle Higher After Meandering Between Gains and Losses
Alison Sider and Christopher Alessi, The Wall Street Journal

The oil-price rally continued for a third week, but prices were little changed Thursday as investors were still weighing rising U.S. production against the prospect of extended production cuts by OPEC.

Oil and Natural Gas

Chevron exploring sale of Canada oil sands stake worth about $2.5 billion: sources
John Tilak and David French, Reuters

Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S.-based oil producer, is exploring the sale of its 20 percent stake in Canada’s Athabasca Oil Sands project, which could fetch about $2.5 billion, according to people familiar with the situation.

Conoco to sell San Juan Basin stake for $3 billion
Collin Eaton, Houston Chronicle

ConocoPhillips plans to sell its stake in the natural gas-rich San Juan Basin to Hilcorp Energy for as much as $3 billion, the company said Thursday. … The deal, expected to close in the third quarter, comes on the heels of its $13.3 billion agreement to sell off Canadian oil sands assets to Cenovus Energy in late March.

Billionaire Bets on Old-School Energy in $3 Billion Conoco Deal
Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg News

With a $3 billion purchase from ConocoPhillips, billionaire oilman Jeffrey Hildebrand is once again trying to succeed in a corner of the oil and gas world others are leaving behind.

Dakota Access Pipeline to start interstate service May 14
David Gaffen, Reuters

The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline will begin interstate crude oil delivery on May 14, according to a filing with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Methane detection jobs booming
David Hunn, Houston Chronicle

A new industry is emerging out of the fight to stop gas leaks in the nation’s oil wells, pipelines and storage tanks. At least 75 firms across the country now work to detect, stop and prevent methane leaks, according to a new study.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Texas Regulators Finalize ‘No’ Vote on NextEra Takeover of Oncor
Andrew Scurria, The Wall Street Journal

NextEra Energy Inc. can’t acquire one of the largest U.S. electricity transmission businesses, Texas regulators said, reaffirming a preliminary decision that has roiled debt markets and upset a heavily negotiated bankruptcy deal.

EPA will rethink 2015 toxics rule for power plants
Ariel Wittenberg, E&E

U.S. EPA will indefinitely postpone deadlines for a regulation aimed at reducing toxic metals in power plants’ wastewater while the agency reconsiders the rule.

Drax shareholders rebel over executive pay
Cat Rutter Pooley, Financial Times

Drax, the owner of the UK’s largest power plant, suffered a substantial protest by shareholders over executive pay at its annual general meeting on Thursday.


Musk Sketches Out Timeline for Tesla Electric Semi Truck, Pickup
Dana Hull, Bloomberg News

Tesla Inc.’s plans to pad its lineup of electric cars are taking shape, with Elon Musk sketching out a timeline for the arrival of a semi truck, pickup and sports car.

U.S. to launch probe into Argentina, Indonesia biodiesel imports
Eric Walsh and Fransiska Nangoy, Reuters

The United States said on Thursday it would start an investigation into imports of biodiesel from Indonesia and Argentina for possible dumping and subsidization.

This device pulls drinking water straight out of the air — and it runs entirely on the sun’s energy
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post

A new kind of water-capturing device could be a game-changer for some of the world’s driest places.


EPA head tells coal miners ‘regulatory assault is over’
The Associated Press

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told dozens of Pennsylvania coal miners Thursday that the “regulatory assault” on their industry is over, and that the environment can be protected without hurting business.

Obama’s ‘clean coal’ investments are now helping Trump officials push fossil fuels
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday visited an Obama-funded “clean coal” facility in Texas — and used its existence to advance a thoroughly Trumpian message about the importance of domestic fossil fuels.

In Coal Country, Environmental Regulations Are Creating Jobs
Glynis Board, NPR News

One reason President Trump gave for signing his order to dismantle climate policies was “to cancel job-killing regulations.” But in places like coal country, environmental regulations are creating jobs, too.

China to create 10 ‘mega’ coal companies through M&As: report
David Stanway, Reuters

China aims to create 10 “mega” coal producers by the end of the decade as part of its drive to consolidate the industry and tackle overcapacity, the official China Daily reported on Friday, citing an energy official.

Coal CEO eyes record exports
Amy Harder, Axios

The CEO of Cloud Peak Energy, the U.S.’s third largest coal company, says he’s hoping to do a record amount of coal exports this year.


SoCal Edison in talks to resolve lawsuit challenging San Onofre fuel storage plan
Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Southern California Edison and other parties have asked a San Diego Superior Court judge to postpone a hearing scheduled for Friday, as they negotiate a possible settlement related to the storage of spent nuclear fuel.


EPA Chief Pruitt: U.S. Should ‘Exit’ Paris Climate Agreement
Marianne Lavelle, InsideClimate News

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Thursday that the United States should exit the Paris climate agreement. The comments are his strongest yet on a question that has divided the Donald Trump administration, even as it seeks to roll back the nation’s commitment to act on climate change.

Environmentalists Sue EPA for Data to Back Pruitt Climate Remarks
Rachel Leven, Bloomberg BNA

Environmentalists sued the EPA on April 13 to provide documents that back Administrator Scott Pruitt’s assertion that human activity isn’t the largest factor driving global climate change, a statement that contradicts a scientific consensus and the agency’s own website.

Oman’s mountains may hold clues for reversing climate change
Sam McNeil, The Associated Press

Deep in the jagged red mountains of Oman, geologists are searching for an efficient and cheap way to remove carbon dioxide from the air and oceans — and perhaps begin to reverse climate change.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Keep Offshore Oil Drilling and Testing Away From the Atlantic Coast
Frank Knapp, Morning Consult

On April 6 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the National Ocean Industries Association that an executive order was forthcoming that would start the process of rewriting the five-year plan for the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The next day an op-ed in Morning Consult by Carl Bentzel began Big Oil’s public relations campaign to paint oil/gas exploration and drilling off the Atlantic coast as safe and oil-spill free given new technology and safeguards.

For Oil’s Future, Peer Through the Hedges
Liam Denning, Bloomberg View

In oil, like life, the secret to happiness is to lower your expectations. That isn’t just a piece of homespun, nihilist wisdom. It’s what’s happening beneath the surface of the oil market.

Westinghouse shattered the US infrastructure dream
John Dizard, Financial Times

Andy Warhol collected photos of car crashes, along with other disaster porn. Perhaps driven by a similar impulse, I read briefs from corporate bankruptcy filings and reports from restructuring firms.

Research Reports

Find and Fix: Job Creation in the Emerging Methane Leak Detection and Repair Industry
Marie Veyrier et al., Datu Research

The following report introduces policy makers, companies, researchers, and the general public to the growing methane leak detection and repair (LDAR) services industry and analyzes its economic impact to date and future growth potential.