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Health Brief: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner Renting Home from Billionaire Seeking Permission for Nickel, Copper Mine

Washington Brief

  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting a house from a Chilean billionaire whose family controls a mining company that is lobbying President Donald Trump to overturn an Obama administration decision to reject its copper and nickel mining plan in northern Minnesota. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may still have owned millions of dollars in Exxon Mobil Corp. stock when Trump praised the company for investments in the Gulf Coast region. (BuzzFeed)
  • It is now “unlikely” that Trump signs an executive order this week aimed at rolling back the Clean Power Plan, a White House official said. (E&E News)

Business Brief

  • Oil prices dove more than 5 percent to their lowest levels of the year on Thursday as U.S. crude oil inventories surged, but rose slightly this morning. (Reuters)
  • Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, who has advised Trump on energy issues, warned that the U.S. shale industry could “kill” the oil market if it overproduces. (Bloomberg News)
  • Royal Dutch Shell reached a deal with Canadian Natural Resources to sell all of its Canadian oil sands assets for $7.25 billion. (Financial Times)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Thursday
CERAWeek 7:30 a.m.
House Science Committee markup of two EPA transparency bills 9:30 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee on infrastructure in tribal and insular communities 10 a.m.
House Transportation subcommittee hearing on water infrastructure 10 a.m.
House Science subcommittee hearing on National Science Foundation 10 a.m.
House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on energy programs in farm bill 10 a.m.
EESI discussion on low-carbon economy 2 p.m.
Friday
CERAWeek 8:30 a.m.
Environmental Law Institute discussion on climate 12 p.m.

 

General

Ivanka Trump’s Landlord Is a Chilean Billionaire Suing the U.S. Government
Mark Maremont and James V. Grimaldi, The Wall Street Journal

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting a Washington, D.C., home from a Chilean billionaire who bought it after the November election and whose company is embroiled in a dispute with the U.S. government over a mine potentially worth billions of dollars. The Obama administration in its waning days blocked a Luksic-company plan to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to a Minnesota wilderness area, citing environmental concerns.

Trump order now ‘unlikely’ this week
Robin Bravender, E&E News

An executive order aimed at repealing the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule is now “unlikely” to come this week, according to a White House official.

Watchdog: Trump ally Carl Icahn violating lobbying rules
Timothy Cama, The Hill

A watchdog group is formally accusing billionaire investor Carl Icahn, an ally and special adviser to President Trump, of improperly lobbying while not officially registered to do so. Public Citizen’s Wednesday complaint to Senate and House officials cites Icahn’s role in advocating for a change to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ethanol mandate, which would benefit a fuel refining company that he owns.

Lawmakers Eye WOTUS, Social Cost of Carbon, Harbors in Spending Bills
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

Lawmakers plan on rehashing several of last year’s debates on energy and water this appropriations season, and a new presidential administration could break the stalemate in some cases. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said he hopes lawmakers will again attempt to block the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule and blocking agencies from considering the social cost of carbon, while a bipartisan group of lawmakers said Congress needs to pass a measure on harbor maintenance.

Oil Extends Slump as Euro Gains Before ECB Meet
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

Crude’s selloff deepened, with prices slumping a fourth day amid a broad commodities retreat that dragged down European stocks. Bonds moved higher, while the euro strengthened with the dollar as investors prepare for key central bank meetings.

Oil and Natural Gas

Rex Tillerson May Have Held Millions In ExxonMobil Stock As Trump Promoted The Oil Giant
Claudia Koerner, BuzzFeed

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may have still owned millions of dollars of ExxonMobil stock at the time President Trump made praising the oil giant a matter of White House policy. Trump on Monday turned his promotional savvy toward ExxonMobil, applauding its expansion in Texas and Louisiana in a series of tweets, a video, and a White House press release that included a paragraph taken directly from the oil giant’s own marketing materials.

Shale Billionaire Hamm Says Industry Binge Can ‘Kill’ Oil Market
Javier Blas and David Wethe, Bloomberg News

Harold Hamm, the billionaire shale oilman, said the U.S. industry could “kill” the oil market if it embarks into another spending binge, a rare warning in a business focused on fast growth to compete with OPEC. The statement, at an energy conference in Houston on Wednesday, comes as top shale companies announce large increases in spending for this year, and the U.S. government says domestic oil output next year will surpass the record high set in 1970.

Shell sells Canadian oil sands assets for $7.25bn
Nathalie Thomas and Katie Martin, Financial Times

Royal Dutch Shell has struck agreements to sell almost all of its Canadian oil sands assets for $7.25bn, helping it to take another step towards a target to raise $30bn from disposals by the end of next year. The oil major announced a multi-faceted deal with Canadian Natural Resources, one of Canada’s largest energy companies, on Thursday.

Light dims from energy stocks as glow of higher oil prices fades
Joe Rennison and Mamta Badkar, Financial Times

Having outperformed the wider US stock market in 2016, energy stocks are no longer feeling the glow of higher oil prices to the same degree as other costs start to offset the benefits. This year the energy sector, which is made up of major oil producers as well as oil servicing companies, is the worst performer of 11 major sectors on the S&P 500.

Pentagon: Islamic State has lost access to Iraq’s oil
Tara Copp, Stars and Stripes

The Islamic State group has lost almost all access to Iraqi oil, though the terrorist organization has thousands of fighters protecting its remaining oil-rich territory in Syria, a U.S. defense official said Wednesday. The official, who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on the condition of anonymity, said there are roughly 15,000 Islamic State fighters left in Iraq and Syria.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Democrats press Trump to end crisis at FERC
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner

Senate Democrats on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee joined Wednesday to press President Trump to end the crisis at the nation’s grid watchdog by immediately nominating new members. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been without a quorum for more than a month, essentially forcing it to shut down amid major questions over the state of the nation’s energy system.

GE Nears $1 Billion Deal With Caithness in Power-Plant Pact
Rick Clough, Bloomberg News

General Electric Co. is nearing a deal with Caithness Energy with a potential value of more than $1 billion to supply equipment for multiple power plants in the U.S. GE would provide as many as six of its new H-class gas turbines, along with steam turbines and other equipment, the companies announced Wednesday.

Renewables

Tesla Completes Hawaii Storage Project That Sells Solar at Night
Mark Chediak, Bloomberg News

Tesla Inc. has completed a solar project in Hawaii that incorporates batteries to sell power in the evening, part of a push by the electric car maker to provide more green power to the grid. The Kapaia installation includes a 13-megawatt solar system and 52 megawatt-hours of batteries that can store energy during the day and dispatch it after the sun goes down, the Palo Alto, California-based company said Wednesday.

Clean energy is now as big as pharmaceutical manufacturing in the US
David Roberts, Vox

Across the world, myriad efforts are underway to make energy systems cleaner, smarter, and more efficient. But it’s hard to get a sense of the total size of those efforts, as they are spread across so many different industries and regions.

Oroville Dam: Feather River release increased, second powerplant turbine online
Chico Enterprise-Record

Releases into the Feather River were stepped up Monday evening, as the Department of Water Resources brought a second turbine of the Hyatt Powerplant online. In a press release DWR said the second unit would allow an increase from 1,720 cubic-feet per second to about 3,550 cfs.

Coal

‘Clean’ coal won’t be commercially viable before 2030, energy analysis says
Katharine Murphy, The Guardian

“Clean” coal technologies won’t be commercially viable before 2030 without government subsidy and are fundamentally out of sync with the move towards more flexible power generation, according to the energy market analysis firm RepuTex. In a new analysis released on Thursday, RepuTex argues that the rising price of gas, coupled with the falling cost of energy storage, has now made renewable energy the cheapest source of reliable power generation in Australia.

The Obama Idea to Save Coal Country
James Higdon, Politico

It turns out that one of the best ideas for how to rescue the region came from the same people who have been reviled for their role in burying the coal industry. As part of the 2016 budget, the Obama White House created something called the POWER Plus plan specifically to help Appalachian communities that were getting left behind because of the rapidly changing energy market.

Nuclear

Kentucky on verge of lifting nuclear moratorium
James Bruggers, Louisville Courier-Journal

A bill that would overturn a three-decade-old law that effectively bars construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky is on the verge of passing the General Assembly and being sent to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature. Senate Bill 11 would get rid of a mandate that any nuclear power plants have access to a permanent disposal facility for their radioactive wastes, which can remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.

With India visit, Westinghouse CEO keeps nuclear project alive
Douglas Busvine, Reuters

A deal to build six Westinghouse nuclear reactors in India is still alive, but to be viable must be ring-fenced from a financial crisis at the U.S. reactor maker and its Japanese parent Toshiba Corp, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Westinghouse would only provide reactors for the six AP1000 units to be built in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Climate

Spring Came Early. Scientists Say Climate Change Is a Culprit.
Jeremy White and Henry Fountain, The New York Times

After a mild winter across much of the United States, February brought abnormally high temperatures, especially east of the Rockies. Spring weather arrived more than three weeks earlier than usual in some places, and new research released Wednesday shows a strong link to climate change.

A Message from American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers:

American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers help U.S. agriculture produce the food that supports health and human development worldwide. AFPM provides the fuels powering farm equipment and the petrochemicals used to construct greenhouses, irrigation pipes, bailing twine and silage bags — even packaging that keeps food from spoiling. Learn about how American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers are making lives easier, healthier, safer and more productive at afpm.org. At AFPM, we make progress.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Carl Icahn responds to ‘witch hunt’ complaint
Carl Icahn, The Hill

Public Citizen’s assertion that I should be required to register as a lobbyist is another gross misstatement of the facts which is similar to much of the “fake news” that is unfortunately so prevalent today. I have vetted my activities with a number of lawyers and it is clear that no registration is required.

A Message from American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers:

American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers are fueling the things that take us further — from the cars and buses we rely on every day to the farm equipment, jets and delivery trucks that support the 24/7 global economy. Learn about how American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers are making our lives easier, healthier, safer and more productive at afpm.org. At AFPM, we make progress.

Research Reports

Sociology: Clean-energy conservatism
Aaron M. McCright, Nature Energy

US conservatives receive a steady stream of anti-environmental messaging from Republican politicians. However, clean-energy conservatives sending strong counter-messages on energy issues could mobilize moderate conservatives to break away from the dominant right-wing defence of fossil fuels.