Energy Brief: White House Issues Veto Threat for Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill

Today’s Washington Brief

  • The White House issued a veto threat for the House’s Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency spending bill because the it would stand in the way of the administration’s climate change goals. The House is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday. (Washington Examiner)
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that the Senate will vote this week on whether to formally conference with the House on the energy bill. Senate Democrats have been against entering the conference process because of environmental policies in the House’s legislation. (The Hill)
  • John Holdren, a top science adviser to President Obama, said a movement to decrease the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels is “unrealistic.” Holdren also said natural gas will be important in the fight against climate change. (Morning Consult)

Today’s Business Brief

  • Duke Energy’s plans to build a 17-megawatt solar farm at Crane naval station in southwest Indiana have been approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Duke Energy Indiana expects to begin construction this month. (Charlotte Business Journal)
  • Greg Goff, president and CEO of independent refiner Tesoro, said Monday that the White House has waged a war on fossil fuels over the past eight years and that “enough is enough.” Goff called on the oil and gas industry to stand up against regulations, as fossil files will continue to be a major part of the country’s energy mix. (Washington Examiner)
  • As methane leaks give the natural gas industry a bad name, federal regulators and energy companies agree that more methane controls are needed. While the Environmental Protection Agency announced the first federal regulations for methane from new wells, Southwestern Energy — the third largest natural gas producer in the U.S. — is helping to lead an industry group focusing on reducing methane leakage. (The New York Times)

Today’s Chart Review

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

Tuesday
EIA holds energy conference 8 a.m.
DOE holds sustainable transportation summit 8 a.m.
Senate Energy Committee holds meeting to consider pending legislation 9:30 a.m.
Sustainable Energy Coalition holds renewable energy expo 9:30 a.m.
House Natural Resources Committee holds hearing on water supply in California 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources holds hearing on Mancos Shale Resource 10:30 a.m.
House Appropriations holds markup on State Dept. spending bill 10:30 a.m.
DOE holds Bioenergy 2016 1 p.m.
Senate Energy subcommittee holds a hearing on Securing Energy Infrastructure Act 2:30 p.m.
House Natural Resources Committee holds full committee markup 4 p.m.
Wednesday
DOE holds Bioenergy 2016 8 a.m.
House E&C holds hearing on CERCLA implementation 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources Committee holds full committee markup 10 a.m.
Senate Appropriations subcommittee holds hearing to review budget request 10:30 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee holds hearing on Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act 2 p.m.
CSIS holds discussion on China’s role in global energy 2 p.m.
DC Net Impact holds panel on global carbon markets 6 p.m.
Thursday
DOE holds Bioenergy 2016 8 a.m.
House Natural Resources Subcommittee holds a oversight hearing on solar energy projects on BLM lands 10 a.m.
CSIS holds a discussion on capacity markets 10 a.m.
USEA holds discussion on the Alberta Energy Regulator 11 a.m.
ASE holds forum on modernizing the grid 12 p.m.
USEA holds forum on CCS projects 2 p.m.
Friday
NCAC-USAEE holds monthly lunch series 12 p.m.

General

White House Threatens Veto of Interior-EPA Spending Bill
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The White House threatened to veto a House spending bill Monday because it would drastically underfund the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency, while hindering the administration’s climate change goals[…]The House is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday.

Clinton Gives Thumbs Down to Dem Platform’s Carbon Tax
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

A campaign adviser to Hillary Clinton says a key part of the Democratic Party’s national platform on climate change is not supported by the presumptive Democratic nominee. The latest version of the Democratic National Committee’s platform was rolled out Saturday evening, and included support for a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels that many scientists blame for increasing the Earth’s temperature.

Stocks Advance on Stimulus Bets as Investors Bail on Bonds, Yen
James Regan and Lukanyo Mnyanda, Bloomberg News

Global stocks advanced for a fourth day and commodities rose, buoyed by the prospect of stimulus in major economies. Government bonds sank with the yen. The MSCI All-Country World Index reached its strongest level since June 24, and the yen had its biggest two-day slide since 2014 after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to speed up efforts to defeat deflation.

Oil & Natural Gas

Senate to Vote on Moving Toward House Compromise on Energy Bill
Timothy Cama, The Hill

The Senate will vote this week on whether to enter formal negotiations toward a compromise energy bill with the House. If the vote to form a conference committee passes, it would put an end to weeks of pressure from House and Senate Republicans, who had pushed Senate Democrats to go along with the process despite their strong objections to environmental policies in the House’s version of the legislation.

Obama Adviser: Keep-It-In-The-Ground Movement ‘Unrealistic’

Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

President Obama’s top science adviser on Monday said natural gas will be an important bridge fuel for decades and called the “keep-it-in-the-ground” movement unrealistic. His gradual, modest vision for moving away from fossil fuels differs greatly in tone from some more liberal environmentalists.

Future of Natural Gas Hinges on Stanching Methane Leaks
Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

Methane has many sources, including flatulent cows and decomposing landfills. But the oil and gas industry may be the nation’s biggest emitter of leaked methane, gas that might otherwise stay underground for eons.

Refinery CEO: ‘Enough is Enough’ In Obama’s War on Fossil Fuels
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The head of one of the nation’s leading energy companies used a federal conference on Monday to blast the Obama administration’s “all-out war on fossil fuels,” saying “enough is enough.” “The all-out war on fossil fuels waged by this White House over the last eight years has reached tsunami proportions in terms of new regulations being proposed,” said Greg Goff, president and CEO of independent refiner Tesoro, speaking Monday at the opening session of the Energy Information Administration’s annual conference in Washington.

19 Dem Senators to Slam Oil Companies
Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner

Nineteen Democrats will take to the Senate floor in the coming days to accuse Exxon Mobil and other oil companies of covering up how burning fossil fuels affects climate change. Starting late Monday afternoon, the Democratic senators will rail against a wide range of oil industry groups and individuals for reportedly misleading the public about the effects of burning fossil fuel, according to 350.org, an environmental group.

Oil, Gas Lobby Says RFS Could Lead to Higher Prices at the Pump

Asha Glover, Morning Consult

The American Petroleum Institute on Monday said the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed increases to ethanol volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard could increase gas prices and possibly cause engine damage to vehicles. API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola said RFS is a “broken” policy and called on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to fix it.

Oil Bounces Back From Two-Month Lows On Weaker Dollar
Dmitry Zhdannikov, Reuters

Oil futures bounced back from two-month lows on Tuesday, helped by a weaker dollar, but a global stocks overhang and a drop in bullish bets by investors still weighed on prices. Brent crude was at $46.93 per barrel at 0853 GMT, up 68 cents or 1.5 percent from the last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 58 cents at $45.34 a barrel.

Utilities & Infrastructure

Greens Warn Against GOP Bill Promoting Wood-Burning Power Plants
Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner

The House this week is set to take up a $32 billion funding bill that environmentalists say would hobble Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including by exempting wood-burning power plants from the EPA’s emissions rules. Former California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said Monday morning that the $32.1 billion funding bill for the EPA, Department of Interior, U.S. Forest Service, Indian Health Service and other agencies contains a number of riders he says are anti-environment.

The Best Way to Teach Adults to Save Energy Might Be Through Their Children

Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post

It’s hard to get people to change their habits, even when doing so could have lasting benefits for the environment. But a team of scientists may have just found a way to hack it when it comes to helping families develop better energy-saving practices at home. The trick, according to them, is to have children help deliver the message.

New York’s LED Streetlights: A Crime Deterrent to Some, A Nuisance to Others
Matt A.V. Chaban, The New York Times

In May 2015, New York City’s Department of Transportation came to the Queens neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights to start replacing the old “cobra head” lights on major thoroughfares with new fixtures housing light-emitting diodes, better known as LEDs. The light switch was proposed last decade, and will eventually encompass all 250,000 streetlights in the city’s five boroughs. The city undertook the changeover less to eliminate the jack-o’-lantern glow of the old high-pressure sodium lights and more for the benefits of LEDs.

Seattle Utilities Startup Acquired By South Korean Company
Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times

A Seattle startup that builds software for utilities to efficiently manage the electricity grid has been acquired by a South Korean power-generation company. 1Energy Systems is announcing Monday that it is joining Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and changing its name to Doosan GridTech.

Lower Profit Recommended for Power-Line Utilities
Thomas Content, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For the second time, a coalition of manufacturers and other energy customers has won a victory in the legal battle over utility profits that groups claim are too high. A federal administrative law judge has recommended less lucrative profit margins for American Transmission Co. of Pewaukee and other Midwest utilities that own and build power lines.

Renewables

Duke Energy’s Military Solar Project in Indiana Moving Forward
Jenna Martin, Charlotte Business Journal

Plans unveiled by Duke Energy this winter to build a 17-megawatt solar farm at an Indiana naval base recently received the final nod. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has signed off on the project, which will be situated on about 145 acres at Crane naval station in the southwestern portion of the state.

RFA Tells EPA Renewable Fuel Standard Proposal Requirements Aren’t Enough

Asha Glover, Morning Consult

In comments submitted Monday, the Renewable Fuels Association is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to raise its requirements for conventional renewable fuel volumes under its proposed 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations. The EPA’s proposed standards don’t meet a 15 billion-gallon statutory level set by Congress.

Coal

How the Sierra Club Got Control of a Massive Coal Reserve
Daniel Gross, Slate

In 2014, Alpha Natural Resources was the fourth-largest coal producer in the U.S., accounting for 80 million tons. But in 2012, the Sierra Club and two other nonprofits, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, had sued the company on environmental grounds.

Donald Trump Could Help – But Not Save – Coal Country
Matt Egan, CNN

In West Virginia, Trump promised coal miners he would save their jobs by pulling the plug on President Obama’s “job-destroying” executive actions and dramatically cutting funding for the EPA. “I’m going to put the miners to work,” Trump said in May, accepting the endorsement of the West Virginia Coal Association, a coal miners union.

Nuclear

Subsidies for Upstate Nuclear Reactors Pitched
Joe Mahoney, CNHI News Service

Three upstate nuclear power plants are in line for nearly $1 billion in subsidies as part of a plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But environmental groups want to derail the state plan, arguing that the reactors are a threat to public safety and the state instead should encourage the development of solar and wind energy.

Climate

Feds to Underscore Cost of Obama Climate Agenda at Conference
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

The effects of President Obama’s climate change agenda on rising energy prices are expected to be front-and-center as the federal government’s premier analytical arm begins its annual conference in Washington on Monday. The Energy Information Administration’s annual energy conference is used to underscore the release of its Annual Energy Outlook, detailing the federal government’s projections from now until mid-century.

Dems Look to Shame Exxon Over Climate

Devin Henry, The Hill

Two Democrats introduced a resolution Monday disapproving of companies that “deliberately mislead the public” about climate change science, an attack on oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp., which has been accused of doing just that.  In a joint resolution offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), the members say they disapprove of “activities by certain corporations, trade associations, foundations and organizations funded by those corporations to deliberately mislead the public and undermine peer-reviewed scientific research about the dangers of their products, and to deliberately cast doubt on science in order to protect their financial interests.”

Greens: U.S.-Europe Trade Deal Promises ‘Climate Armageddon
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

A trade deal being negotiated between the U.S. and European Union would “sabotage” President Obama’s goal of securing a global agreement for combating climate change by encouraging fracking, environmentalists said Monday. The group Friends of the Earth obtained a leaked EU document that details how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would kill December’s Paris climate deal by making it harder for the nations to live up to their obligations to reduce emissions.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

The New Nuclear Renaissance
Jim Inhofe et al., U.S. News & World Report

There has been a groundswell of activity and investment in recent years surrounding advanced nuclear reactors. A dynamic group of nuclear engineers and scientists are chasing the future – and racing against China and Russia – to develop innovative reactor designs. These technologies hold enormous promise to provide clean, safe, affordable, and reliable energy, not just for our country, but for the world.

Southern Company Attracts More Scrutiny and Stock Price Rises
William Pentland, Forbes

Last week, a story in the New York Times took aim at the colossal failings of a spectacularly expensive and grossly mismanaged “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi. The so-called Kemper integrated gasification combined-cycle project has become the perennial poster child for the lack of accountability in the investor-owned utility industry.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

Renewable Energy to Surpass Coal and Nuclear by 2030: 7 Key Takeaways from EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016
Steve Clemmer, Union of Concerned Scientists

As a certified energy geek, I always look forward to this time of year. On July 11 and 12, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is holding their annual conference to discuss current energy technology, market, and policy issues, and will present results from their new Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2016 report. One of the headlines this year is EIA’s new projections for renewable energy, which under their reference case is expected to surpass nuclear power by 2020 and coal by 2028 to become the second largest source of U.S. electricity generation after natural gas (see Figure 1 below).

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