Energy Brief: Trump Signs Measure Blocking Transparency Rule for Energy Companies

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump signed a resolution blocking a Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring energy companies to publicly disclose payments to foreign governments. (The Hill)
  • A collection of conservative groups sent a letter to the White House criticizing the recent proposal by former Republican Cabinet members for a carbon tax and dividend system. (Washington Examiner)
  • Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to delay the confirmation vote on Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, pointing to a Thursday court hearing over a public-records request from his work as Oklahoma attorney general. (Morning Consult)

Business Brief

  • Toshiba announced its CEO will resign and it will stop building nuclear power plants, after its unsuccessful investment in U.S. nuclear power. (The New York Times)
  • A European court is expected to rule soon on whether to extend an injunction — potentially for years — on Russian oil company Gazprom’s plan to supply Germany with natural gas via a Baltic Sea pipeline, bypassing Ukraine. (Financial Times)
  • Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, issued $4.5 billion in bonds in a record-breaking deal for emerging-market bonds. (The Wall Street Journal)

Chart Review

2017 Greenhouse Gas Inventory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
NARUC Winter Meeting 8:30 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Endangered Species Act 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on energy transmission 10 a.m.
House Science subcommittee hearing on DOE loan guarantees 10 a.m.
Atlantic Council event on U.S. and German power sector transitions 12:30 p.m.
Thursday
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on infrastructure and environmental laws 10 a.m.
House Science Committee hearing on NASA 10 a.m.
CSIS event on oil and gas markets 10 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

General

Trump signs repeal of transparency rule for oil companies
Timothy Cama, The Hill

President Trump signed legislation Tuesday to repeal a controversial regulation that would have required energy companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments. The legislation is the first time in 16 years that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) has been used to repeal a regulation, and only the second time in the two decades that act has been law.

Democrats Want to Delay Pruitt Confirmation Vote
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to delay a vote to confirm Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, citing a pending public records request that could divulge more information about him. McConnell filed cloture on Monday for a vote on Pruitt later this week.

A public land-management rule should be ‘noncontroversial,’ say environmentalists. But Congress is trying to overturn it.
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post

As Republican members of Congress continue their efforts to overturn federal regulations passed under the Obama administration, they are now taking aim at the process for managing public lands. In the past few weeks, Congress has introduced a number of resolutions under an obscure law known as the Congressional Review Act, which could undo multiple environmental rules finalized last year.

Trump Repeal of Obama Energy Regulation Signals More to Come
Catherine Traywick, Bloomberg Politics

President Donald Trump has overturned an Obama-era anti-corruption rule that would have forced oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments, becoming the first president in 16 years to take advantage of a law that allows him to rescind a predecessor’s regulations. Trump on Tuesday signed a congressional resolution to repeal a Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rule that was called for in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Oroville Dam: Window into a warmer future — experts
Anne C. Mulkern, Climatewire

A deluge of repeated rainstorms set the stage for the near-disaster at the Oroville Dam in California, a crisis that foreshadows what the Golden State can expect more of with climate change, several experts said. The situation at Oroville — in Butte County, Calif., northeast of Sacramento — happened after both an infrastructure failure and a weather event, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA.

Yellen Fuels Bank Stocks as Traders Eye Inflation
Eddie van der Walt and Adam Haigh, Bloomberg News

Banks led gains in global stocks as traders awaited U.S. inflation data that looks poised to further strengthen the Federal Reserve’s resolve to raise interest rates. Treasuries fell for a fifth day and the dollar extended its advance.

Oil and Natural Gas

Gazprom’s pipeline ambition faces test in European courts
Rochelle Toplensky and Neil Buckley, Financial Times

Gazprom’s plan to circumvent eastern Europe and bring more Russian gas directly to Germany faces a crucial test in European courts this month as Poland seeks to extend an injunction curbing the Russian group’s access to a distribution pipeline. The legal showdown over gas supplied via the Baltic Sea is the latest move in the long battle over Europe’s energy infrastructure as the EU tries to reduce reliance on Russia, and Gazprom fights for market share.

Pemex Sets Euro Corporate-Debt Record With $4.49 Billion Issue
Mike Bird, The Wall Street Journal

Mexico’s national oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, issued $4.5 billion in bonds Tuesday, the largest euro-denominated emerging-market corporate-bond deal on record. Emerging-market investments have recovered from an initial slump after U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election victory.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Maine Governor Looks to Replace Utility Regulator After Vote on Solar Rules
The Associated Press

Maine’s Republican governor is reiterating his call for state utility regulators to resign because of new solar rules they approved. He told WVOM-FM that he’s thinking of nominating technical adviser James LaBrecque, who’s called the solar industry a “special interest.”

Ukraine Not To Import Russian Electricity Despite Coal Shortage
Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.com

Despite the current coal shortage that threatens to disrupt Ukraine’s power generation, the country will not import electricity from Russia, Ukraine’s Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor Nasalyk said on Tuesday. According to Russia’s news agency TASS, Nasalyk told a TV channel today that he was certain that electricity imports from Russia were out of the question.

Pipeline foes race against clock
Devin Henry, The Hill

Opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline are racing against the clock, with legal action their best hope of stopping the project before oil begins to flow. Lawyers for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will file a motion this week asking a federal judge to rule on the legality of the project.

Renewables

Solar power plant commissioned to serve Las Vegas Valley
The Associated Press

Officials have flipped the switch on a solar power plant southeast of Las Vegas. NV Energy on Monday said the project, dubbed Boulder Solar II, has reached its commercial operation status.

Dominion’s Solar Stake in Virginia Rising Toward $1 Billion, Utility says
Electric Light and Power

Dominion Energy’s investment in Virginia solar power has topped $800 million and headed to $1 billion, the utility revealed Tuesday. Nearly 400 MW of solar generation is either completed or under development throughout the state, enough to power 100,000 homes, the utility noted.

Coal

Nine killed in central China coal mine blast
Allen Cone, UPI

Nine people died when a blast struck a coal mine Tuesday morning in central China’s Hunan province, authorities confirmed. The blast occurred at 1:37 a.m. at Zubao Coal Mine in Lianyuan City, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Nuclear

Toshiba’s Chairman Resigns as Its Nuclear Power Losses Mount
Jonathan Soble, The New York Times

Toshiba, the embattled technology conglomerate, said it planned to write off more than $6 billion and withdraw from the business of building nuclear power plants as the impact of a disastrous bet on American nuclear energy continued to rock a mainstay of corporate Japan. The company also said on Tuesday that its chairman, Shigenori Shiga, would resign, ending weeks of speculation.

‘It’s never been off the table’: Key congressman reiterates interest in shipping nuke waste to Yucca Mountain
Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune

“I’m the nuclear waste guy, that’s what I do in Washington,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., after taking a tour last week of the decommissioning process at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Diego. Accompanied by his colleague, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Shimkus said he was optimistic that progress could be made on Capitol Hill to deal with stockpiles such as the 3.6 million pounds of spent fuel sitting next to the Pacific Ocean at San Onofre.

Climate

Trump adviser’s carbon tax talks alarm conservatives
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

A coalition of conservative and free-market groups are raising alarm over the possibility that senior White House officials may be entertaining the idea of a carbon tax. A tax on carbon dioxide is widely seen as an alternative to sector-by-sector climate change regulations such as those the Obama administration sought to implement.

A Message from the American Wind Energy Association:

Wind energy powers over 100,000 American jobs, including more than 25,000 made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs in over 500 factories. Wind works for America, powering new factory orders across the Rust Belt with tens of billions of dollars a year in private investment across rural America. Learn more about how wind energy powers the Rust Belt comeback at awea.org/windworksforamerica.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Small Nuclear Reactors Can Power Clean Electric Vehicles
J. Winston Porter, Morning Consult

As the number of electric vehicles on U.S. highways increases — and it will not be confined to cars but also trucks and buses — we are obliged to make the best possible use of low-cost electricity sources to recharge the EVs. This can be done through an expansion of solar and wind energy and the introduction of small nuclear reactors that will result in greater economic and environmental gains than if the power were to come only from fossil fuels.

A Message from the American Wind Energy Association:

Wind energy powers over 100,000 American jobs, and American wind companies hire veterans at a 50% higher rate than the average U.S. industry. Wind powers the rust belt comeback with more than 25,000 made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs in over 500 factories, and tens of billions of dollars a year in private investment across rural America. Learn more about wind-powered American jobs at awea.org/windworksforamerica.

Research Reports

2017 Greenhouse Gas Inventory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

In 2015, total gross U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 6,586.2 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 Eq. Total U.S. emissions have increased by 3.4 percent from 1990 to 2015, and emissions decreased from 2014 to 2015 by 2.2 percent (150.1 MMT CO2 Eq.).

Briefings

Energy Brief: Trump Administration Disbands Advisory Panel on Climate Change

The Trump administration let the charter for the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment Climate expire on Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator informed the head of the 15-person federal advisory panel that NOAA would not renew the committee tasked with creating actionable plans for the National Climate Review, a recurring report that’s next due in 2018.

Energy Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

A special science section of the National Climate Assessment and a separate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the severe effects of climate change on the United States, potentially making it more difficult for President Donald Trump to roll back his predecessor’s environmental regulations.

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