Energy Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead


Week in Review

Obama-era regluations

  • The Environmental Protection Agency will propose repealing the Clean Power Plan and solicit input for replacing the Obama administration’s key regulation for fighting climate change, according to an internal EPA document. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March to launch the EPA’s review of the Obama-era rule, which aims to cut carbon emissions from power plants.
  • The Interior Department proposed delaying an Obama-era regulation that forces energy companies to capture methane emissions at drilling sites on public lands, after Senate Republicans failed in their bid to overturn the rule in its entirety. The agency wants to delay the rule until January 2019, saying an analysis from the Obama administration may have underestimated costs and overestimated benefits.
  • The Trump administration published a formal notice to overhaul the Obama administration’s plan to protect the sage grouse, a bird found in 10 Western states. The Bureau of Land Management plans to consider changes to the conservation plans, according to the seven-page notice of intent.

EPA nominees

  • Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, to be deputy administrator at the EPA. Wheeler, a former aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), has been hailed by the coal industry as having the expertise to dismantle Obama-era fossil fuel regulations, while critics cite his ties to climate change deniers.
  • The ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), said he will oppose Trump’s pick to be the top air regulator at the EPA, for the same reasons opposed the Delaware Democrat opposed the nominee more than a decade ago. But it’s unclear whether Democrats will have the votes to block William Wehrum’s confirmation this time around, especially since Republicans on the committee praised his experience.

Oil and natural gas

  • The House voted 219-206 to pass a 2018 budget resolution with legislative language that could lead to oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate’s budget framework includes a similar provision.
  • TransCanada Corp. said it’s canceling plans to build its Energy East pipeline, which would have shipped 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to the Atlantic coast. Chief Executive Russ Girling did not specify the reasons for the decision, but growth in Canada’s oil sands has slowed with lower oil prices, and the proposed pipeline faced stiff environmental opposition in Quebec.

Government-industry ties

  • During the first weeks of the Trump administration, top Interior Department officials worked privately with energy industry representatives to suspend an accounting system that would have increased company royalties to the federal government. Email exchanges show agency officials worked to address industry concerns by halting a system that had taken effect on Jan. 1.
  • A recent release prompted by a Freedom of Information Act request disclosed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s official calendar in greater detail, including discussion topics at his meetings and the agency officials and corporate executives who were scheduled to attend. The 320-page accounting of his schedule from February through May listed several trips to his home state of Oklahoma, with almost no meetings with environmental groups, consumer groups or public health advocates.

What’s Ahead

  • The House is in session this week. The Senate is in recess and will reconvene next week.
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry is scheduled to testify before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee to speak about his plan for managing and executing the department’s missions.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reconsidering its final rule regarding Corporate Average Fuel Economy civil penalties. The public comment period on whether and how to amend the civil penalty rate for violations of CAFE standards ends Tuesday.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
House Agriculture Committee farm bill field hearing 10 a.m.
Tuesday
ACORE Finance West, hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy 8:45 a.m.
Waters of the United States rule discussion, hosted by The Heritage Foundation 12 p.m.
Open government on climate science, hosted by the World Resources Institute 12:30 p.m.
Atlantic Council forum on US-China relations, including the role of energy and trade talks 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday
IPFM hosts report launch on highly enriched uranium use of fuel in Russia 10 a.m.
House Agriculture Committee on the 2017 agenda for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee legislative hearing on federal lands bills 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on oil and natural gas leasing on the OCS 2 p.m.
Thursday
CSIS hosts IEA renewable energy report launch 9:30 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee on water, power and oceans holds legislative hearing 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing with Energy Secretary Rick Perry 10 a.m.
Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit 1:30 p.m.
Friday
Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit 9 a.m.

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