Energy Brief: Trump Administration Plans Tuesday Meeting on Paris Agreement

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump’s top advisers plan to meet Tuesday to discuss whether the U.S. should stay in the Paris climate agreement, setting up a possible showdown between opposing wings of the administration. (Politico)
  • The Trump administration fielded 168 comments from American manufacturers on how to cut regulations, focusing heavily on the Environmental Protection Agency. (The Washington Post)
  • Democratic state attorneys general have taken a leading role in fighting the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations. (The Hill)

Business Brief

  • BP employees struggled unsuccessfully over the weekend to stop two methane leaks at a damaged oil well on Alaska’s North Slope. (The New York Times)
  • The Dakota Access pipeline is set to start moving oil in May, pending approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (Washington Examiner)
  • Saudi Arabia will build 30 solar and wind projects in the next 10 years as part of a $50 billion effort to focus on renewable energy production. (Bloomberg News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
Columbia University event on deep decarbonization 12 p.m.
Tuesday
Atlantic Council event on global energy architecture 12 p.m.
Energy Storage Association annual conference 12 p.m.
University of California event on behavior, energy, climate change 12:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Atlantic Council event on energy innovation in the Middle East 9 a.m.
Energy Storage Association annual conference 9 a.m.
Brookings Institution event on carbon pricing 2 p.m.
International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum 2 p.m.
Thursday
International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum 8:30 a.m.
Energy Storage Association annual conference 9 a.m.
Texas conference focused on creating smart cities 9 a.m.
Texas Electric Power conference 9 a.m.
U.S. Energy Association event on carbon capture and storage 12 p.m.
Friday
SAIS conference on women and climate change 8 a.m.
International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum 8:30 a.m.
Texas Electric Power conference 8:30 a.m.
Texas conference focused on creating smart cities 9 a.m.

 

General

EPA emerges as major target after Trump solicits policy advice from industry
Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

Just days after taking office, President Trump invited American manufacturers to recommend ways the government could cut regulations and make it easier for companies to get their projects approved. Industry leaders responded with scores of suggestions that paint the clearest picture yet of the dramatic steps that Trump officials are likely to take in overhauling federal policies, especially those designed to advance environmental protection and safeguard worker rights.

Dem AGs join front lines of Trump opposition
Timothy Cama, The Hill

Democratic state attorneys general are taking a leading role in fighting the Trump administration’s environmental policies. Top legal officers from blue states, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have gone to court to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

Democrats fear that Trump has barred key federal workers from speaking to them
Darryl Fears, The Washington Post

Democrats in Congress are accusing the Trump administration of ordering officials in federal departments and agencies to withhold information they need to carry out their duties, such as preparing for committee hearings. Party leaders say officials have routinely provided documents and detailed explanations of programs in the past, but now at least two ranking Democrats on congressional committees say their staff members were told directly by workers in agencies that they could no longer speak with them.

Gaza’s only power plant runs out of fuel
Al Jazeera

The Gaza Strip’s only functioning power plant has shut down after running out of fuel, leaving two million people in the Hamas-governed Palestinian territory with only six hours of electricity a day. Samir Metir, head of Gaza’s electricity provider, told AFP news agency that all the plant’s fuel, purchased with funding from Qatar and Turkey, had been used up.

Ryan Zinke Gives Department of Interior Employees 59 Minutes Off for Easter
Sarah Emerson, Vice Motherboard

Praise Jesus, for today, Department of Interior (DOI) staff will receive the greatest gift of all: 59 minutes of time off, courtesy of Secretary Ryan Zinke. “A small token of our appreciation for all you do to support the American public… Employees working Friday may leave 59 minutes earlier than their normal departure time,” an email sent to all DOI staff and leaked to Motherboard by an employee there said.

Oil and Natural Gas

BP Struggles to Control Damaged Well in Alaskan Arctic
Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

The British oil giant BP worked through the weekend to control a damaged oil well on Alaska’s remote North Slope that had started spewing natural gas vapors on Friday morning, the company and Alaska officials said. There have been no injuries or reports of damage to wildlife, but crews trying to secure the well have failed amid frigid winds gusting to 38 miles an hour.

Undaunted by oil bust, financiers pour billions into U.S. shale
Ernest Scheyder, Reuters

Investors who took a hit last year when dozens of U.S. shale producers filed for bankruptcy are already making big new bets on the industry’s resurgence. In the first quarter, private equity funds raised $19.8 billion for energy ventures – nearly three times the total in the same period last year, according to financial data provider Preqin.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Dakota Access to begin shipping crude in May
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The Dakota Access Pipeline will begin shipping crude oil across state lines beginning next month, in line with President Trump’s executive memo ordering the project to be expedited.

The Ramapoughs vs. the World
Noah Remnick, The New York Times

For the Ramapoughs, a group of indigenous people native to the highlands around Mahwah, N.J., life has often been a series of excruciating struggles over rights and resources. The tribe has an embattled history marked by colonial occupation, environmental degradation, discrimination, and clashes with politicians and real estate developers.

Renewables

Saudis Seek 30 Solar, Wind Projects in $50 Billion Pledge
Wael Mahdi and Vivian Nereim, Bloomberg News

Saudi Arabia will develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of the kingdom’s $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption. The world’s biggest exporter of crude oil will produce 10 percent of its power from renewables by 2023, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said Monday at a conference in Riyadh.

Renewable energy tax cut rewrite may be uphill battle for GOP
Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times

The past decade has brought about a monumental shift in how fuel sources benefit from the U.S. tax code, with renewable energy more than lapping its counterparts in the oil, gas, and coal sectors. Federal tax “preferences” — such as tax credits for energy production, specific write-offs or deductions, or other benefits aimed at an energy subsector — have moved dramatically toward wind, solar and other renewable fuels since 2008.

Germany Strikes Offshore Wind Deals, Subsidy Not Included
Stanley Reed, The New York Times

European governments have spent large sums of money in recent years subsidizing giant offshore wind projects in hopes of creating a clean source of energy that could eventually pay for itself. Now that moment may be here — and a lot sooner than expected.

Solar Installers Struggle as Panels Become Cheap Enough to Own
Cassandra Sweet, The Wall Street Journal

Solar panels are more affordable than ever for U.S. homeowners, and that is bad news for the biggest players in the industry.

Massive solar array will generate benefit for National Guard, civilians
Kirsti Marohn, Minnesota Public Radio

It seemed like a good omen when the sun managed to make a late appearance on Thursday as elected officials, business and military leaders gathered at Camp Ripley to celebrate the completion of a massive new 10-megawatt solar array, a joint project between the Minnesota National Guard and Duluth-based Minnesota Power.

Coal

More coal is rolling out of the pro-Trump Western Slope, but is it adding up to any jobs?
Bruce Finley, Denver Post

Trains loaded with shiny black coal used to generate electricity are thundering out of Colorado’s North Fork Valley again — as many as two a day — raising hopes for the mining comeback President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail. The coal carved from deep under pristine forests in the last surviving West Elk Mine is bound for other countries to be burned.

PA Electricity Generation Is Moving Away From Coal. Would It Move Back Under Trump?
Liz Reid, WESA

When Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt visited a Greene County coal mine last week, he said, to applause, “the war on coal is done.” It was the same line President Donald Trump delivered last month, when he announced an executive order aimed at dismantling the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which had sought to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Nuclear

Why one of N.J.’s nuclear plants is now shut down
Bill Gallo Jr., NJ.com

The Salem 2 reactor — one of four nuclear plants in New Jersey — has been shut down for refueling and maintenance, officials said. The reactor was taken off line around 8 p.m. Friday, according to Joe Delmar, a spokesman for the plant’s operator, PSEG Nuclear.

Climate

White House showdown on Paris deal set for next week
Eric Wolff et al., Politico

President Donald Trump’s most senior advisers will huddle next week to resolve long-simmering tensions over whether the United States should stay in the Paris climate change agreement, a major point of dispute between the moderate and nationalist wings of the White House, three administration officials told POLITICO. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, senior adviser Jared Kushner and chief strategist Steve Bannon are expected to be at the table.

Corporate America isn’t backing Trump on climate
Amy Harder, Axios

Corporate America is uniting on climate change. Consumer brands and industrial giants have been supporting government action on climate change for years.

NASA just snapped the first photos of a mysterious crack in one of Greenland’s largest glaciers
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

The first photographs of a new and ominous crack in Greenland’s enormous Petermann Glacier were captured by a NASA airborne mission Friday. NASA’s Operation IceBridge, which has been flying over northwest Greenland for the past several days, took the photos after being provided coordinates by Stef Lhermitte, a professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who had spotted the oddly located chasm by examining satellite images.

It’s Like It Never Left: Another El Niño May Be on the Way
Henry Fountain, The New York Times

Less than a year after one of the strongest El Niños on record, forecasters see an increasing possibility that another will begin later this year. There is no word yet on how strong a new El Niño might be, but even a mild one could affect weather patterns around the world.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Conservation and Profit Along the Colorado River
Timothy Male, Morning Consult

The challenge of sustaining the Colorado River can seem crushing — there is a projected shortfall in supply of one trillion gallons to meet new demands of the region’s diverse and growing economy and warmer future by 2060. Like the challenges of a struggling family deep in credit card, college loan, car payment, and mortgage debt, each step forward can seem pointless and overwhelmed by the larger problem.

Wrong Message, Wrong Coal Mine
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

Scott Pruitt, the climate-change denier charged by President Trump with making the Environmental Protection Agency less protective of the environment, traveled to Pennsylvania last week to kick off E.P.A.’s “back to basics” agenda and tell a group of worried coal miners that the Obama administration’s “war on coal” was over and that he and Mr. Trump would lead a revival of the industry. He may have chosen the wrong coal mine at which to make his pitch.

King Coal’s big comeback
Stephen Moore, Washington Times

Trump is reviving the energy industry Obama tried to kill. Buried in an otherwise humdrum jobs report for March was the jaw-dropping pronouncement by the Labor Department that mining jobs in America were up by 11,000 in March.

Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet
Bill McKibben, The Guardian

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away (especially now that he’s discovered bombs). But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything.

Research Reports

Pathways for balancing CO2 emissions and sinks
Brian Walsh et al., Nature Communications

In December 2015 in Paris, leaders committed to achieve global, net decarbonization of human activities before 2100. This achievement would halt and even reverse anthropogenic climate change through the net removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

Briefings

Energy Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Government agencies continued their push to promote a new relationship with the energy industry, as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt called for an end to the “regulatory assault” on coal mining and Energy Secretary Rick Perry focused on clean power investments to spur domestic energy production.

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