Energy Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead


Week in Review

Hurricane Harvey

  • Storm flooding and disrupted production curtailed access to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to major pipelines, including the biggest U.S. fuel system, the Colonial pipeline, which is responsible for transporting more than 3 million barrels of fuel per day to East Coast states.
  • Scientists want to test water samples for possible contamination from the flooded toxic Superfund sites surrounding Houston, while the area’s health department officials said some contamination from toxic or carcinogenic compounds is certain.

Gasoline prices rise, crude prices don’t

  • Officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are frustrated that oil prices are falling despite the production taken offline by Tropical Storm Harvey and the ongoing production caps that OPEC and partnering countries imposed to address the global oil glut.

Nuclear power

  • Southern Co.’s Georgia Power and the minority stakeholders in the Vogtle nuclear project submitted a plan to continue construction on the plant, making it the country’s only new nuclear plant under construction. Completion for the first of the plant’s two reactors is slated for November 2021.
  • Duke Energy said it will drop the charge for nuclear construction from customer bills in Florida, formally ending an effort to build a nuclear plant. Instead, the company will pursue construction of nine or 10 solar power plants.

What’s Ahead

  • Congress is slated to reconvene Sept. 5.
  • Representatives from Canada, Mexico and U.S. continue the second round of trade negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations began on Friday in Mexico City and will continue until Sept. 5. Proponents hope to see more alignment among energy policies.
  • In preparation for the EPA’s public comment hearing on the mid-term evaluation of emissions standards for new vehicles, environmental and industry groups are holding calls to organize their stance toward the issue. The Trump administration has proposed rolling back the standards.
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry said he is releasing half a million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to a refinery in Lake Charles, La., in an effort to curb rising gas prices. He said he will review additional requests for emergency releases.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
Federal holiday — no events scheduled
Tuesday
House Rules Committee hearing on FY2018 DOI, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill 4 p.m.
Wednesday
Atlantic Council panel discussion on modernizing NAFTA, North American energy sector 9 a.m.
EPA public hearing on mid-term evaluations for greenhouse gas emissions standards 9 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on PURPA objectives 10 a.m.
House Science Committee subcommittee hearing on the EPA’s IRIS program 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources Committee legislative hearing on federal leasing bills 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on unimplemented recommendations from the GAO, OIG for the EPA 10:15 a.m.
Georgetown University event on energy inclusion and its economic, social, financial challenges 3 p.m.
Thursday
Western Governors’ Association webinar on species conservation 10:30 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing for FERC, DOI nominees 10:30 a.m.
Friday
Atlantic Council panel discussion on U.S.-Iran science exchanges 12 p.m.
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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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