Energy

Essential energy industry news & intel to start your day.
April 15, 2021
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Berkeley Report Offers Glimmer of Hope for Those Pushing Rapid Vehicle Electrification

Per a new report from the University of California, Berkeley, bringing the United States to a point of electrifying all new car and truck sales by 2035 will require a heavy policy lift, but can be done. And, the authors say, that rapid electrification of the transportation sector would result in massive benefits for the climate, economy and public health in the next three decades: saving consumers $2.7 trillion, avoiding 150,000 premature deaths related to air pollution and reducing annual transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2050. Read on for more.

 

Top Stories

  • In next week’s climate change summit, President Joe Biden intends to commit to cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to at least half of 2005 levels by 2030 and to secure deals with allies for faster reductions on their parts, as well, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The United States is reportedly very close to finalizing deals with the governments of Japan, South Korea and Canada, though it is unclear if those agreements will be announced at the summit. (Reuters)
  • The Biden administration is discussing with Oklahoma tribes whether they should have more influence over environmental regulations on the large swath of the state that was recognized last year as reservation land in a Supreme Court decision, officials told a media outlet. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan has spoken with both Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) — who heads a Republican government reportedly concerned about potentially losing control of a portion of the state’s tax base — and with leaders of several tribal nations who are pushing for greater oversight of their land, one official said. (Reuters)
  • Biden plans to tap Tracy Stone-Manning to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management, according to a person familiar with the selection process. Stone-Manning is a senior adviser for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation and has previously worked in the offices of Montana lawmakers. (The Hill)
  • The Senate has confirmed Brenda Mallory to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality in a 53-45 vote, making her the first Black head of the office that has already begun working to review Trump administration changes to environmental permitting and other decisions. Mallory has served as general counsel for the CEQ during the Obama era, and previously worked as a lawyer at the EPA, as well. (Bloomberg Law)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Granholm: Reconciliation possible for clean energy standard, but no decisions made

Kelsey Tamborrino, Politico

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday there is a potential pathway for a clean energy standard under Senate reconciliation — a tool that allows passage of some bills with a simple Senate majority — but cautioned no final decisions have been made.

 

Biden Names Picks to Lead EPA’s Water and Chemicals Offices

Stephen Lee, Bloomberg Law

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his intent to nominate Michal Freedhoff to lead the EPA’s chemicals office and Radhika Fox to head up the agency’s water department.

 

Key Democrat says traveler fees should fund infrastructure projects

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

A key Senate Democrat said Wednesday he supports making people pay to use transportation infrastructure even as the White House eyes raising corporate taxes to pay for its own infrastructure package.

 

In the climate change fight, the Interior Department becomes a battlefield

Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

In the weeks after President Biden’s inauguration, as the oil industry was facing a far less welcoming White House, a ConocoPhillips executive went pheasant hunting with the Democratic senator poised to wield tremendous power in an evenly divided Congress.

 

In Coinbase’s Rise, a Reminder: Cryptocurrencies Use Lots of Energy

Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

The company’s stock market arrival establishes Bitcoin and other digital currencies in the traditional financial landscape. It also elevates a technology with astonishing environmental costs.

 

Rich Investors Struggle to Square Profits With Green Ambitions

Benjamin Stupples, Bloomberg

The rich across the globe have big ambitions for sustainable investing — the type of portfolios that help combat climate change or tackle societal problems. The reality is more complex.

 
Climate Change and Emissions
 

US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019, EPA says

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 1.7 percent in 2019 compared with 2018, according to a new report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday. 

 

At climate summit, Biden will try to reassure a skeptical world that the U.S. is back

Anna M. Phillips and Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times

Mere hours after he was sworn in, President Biden signed an executive order committing the United States to rejoin the international accord designed to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change — the Paris climate agreement. That was the easy part.

 

Powell defends Fed’s consideration of climate change risks

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday defended the Fed’s increasing scrutiny of the threat that climate change could pose to the health of the nation’s banks, after some Republican members of Congress had complained that by doing so the Fed was overstepping its mandate.

 

US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities’ sustainability efforts

Justine Coleman, The Hill

The Biden administration’s move to reenter the Paris climate agreement this year has added momentum to existing efforts from U.S. cities to become more sustainable and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

Banking regulators start climate stress tests

Laura Noonan, Financial Times

Lenders are being assessed on risks arising from extreme weather and the energy transition.

 
Renewables and Storage
 

Tesla defies global price plunge, raises prices on solar roof and home batteries

Eric Wesoff, Canary Media

Puzzling strategy from the EV pioneer and reluctant residential solar company.

 
Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels
 

Forthcoming Russia sanctions won’t include Nord Stream 2

Natasha Bertrand and Andrew Desiderio, Politico

DOJ’s legal approval for a new slate of sanctions to stop the Russia-Germany pipeline was reversed recently.

 

Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

The Biden administration is adding an additional delay to a rule that is expected to lessen the amount companies that drill on public lands and in public waters pay in fees to the federal government.

 

D.C. Circuit weighs challenge to EPA’s E15 rule

Kelsey Tamborrino, Politico

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments Tuesday on a challenge to EPA’s rule extending the sale of 15 percent ethanol year-round.

 

Groups take aim at New Mexico drilling plan amid US review

Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

Environmentalists and Native American activists on Wednesday renewed their demands for more meaningful talks with Indigenous leaders and other communities on the front lines of fossil fuel development as the Biden administration reviews the nation’s oil and gas leasing program in response to climate change.

 

What Happens When an Oil Giant Walks Away

Rachel Adams-Heard and Rachel Dottle, Bloomberg

The chief executive officer of BP Plc had ­something ­exciting to tell investors in September 2019. The fifth-­largest multinational oil producer in the West had just inked a deal to sell everything it owned in Alaska, marking a sudden exit from a region the company had prized since the birth of the state 60 years earlier.

 

Shell Asks Investors to Vote Against Activist Climate Resolution

Laura Hurst, Bloomberg

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s board has urged shareholders to reject a climate resolution filed by Dutch activist investor Follow This in favor of its own energy transition plan, which the company will put to a vote next month.

 

U.S. Startup Plans to Build First Zero-Emission Gas Power Plants

Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg

A new kind of turbine burns the fossil fuel in oxygen and buries the resulting emissions deep underground.

 

US oil drillers ‘dying on the vine’ as PE flight prompts funding drought

Derek Brower and Justin Jacobs, Financial Times

Stricken operators launch ‘last gasp’ efforts to boost cash flow and attract buyers.

 

How Texas’s zombie oil wells are creating an environmental disaster zone

Clayton Aldern et al., The Guardian

Thousands of abandoned oil wells dot the Permian Basin in west Texas and New Mexico, endangering humans and wildlife. With oil costs plummeting, they’re likely to proliferate. Who is going to cover the cleanup costs?

 

Oil firm bosses’ pay ‘incentivises them to undermine climate action’

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian

Lucrative pay and share options have created an incentive for oil company executives to resist climate action, according to a study that casts doubt on recent net-zero commitments by BP and Shell.

 
Transportation
 

EV Charging Data Shows Widely Divergent Global Path

Colin McKerracher, BloombergNEF

China had over 800,000 EV charging outlets available for public use installed at the end of 2020, up from 516,000 in 2019 and 300,000 in 2018. In December 2020 alone, China installed 112,000 public charging points — more than the entire U.S. public charging network.

 
Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure
 

POLITICO Q&A: Radhika Fox, acting head of EPA’s water office

Annie Snider, Politico

The former nonprofit water advocacy group executive and water utility official is leading the administration’s work to incorporate environmental justice into EPA’s water work.

 

Texas’ Latest Brush With Blackouts Amplifies Call to Fix Market

Josh Saul and Mark Chediak, Bloomberg

It didn’t take a heat wave or freak winter storm this time to raise the specter of rolling blackouts in Texas. All it took was a mild spring day.

 
Environment, Land and Resources
 

76 percent of the Western US is in a drought. That likely means another bad wildfire season.

Lili Pike, Vox

Just as the freshly vaccinated start to resume barbecues and vacation travel in the coming months, wildfires are likely to force residents of Western states back inside.

 

Brazil seeks $1bn cash upfront for preservation of Amazon

Bryan Harris, Financial Times

The environment minister says Bolsonaro’s government has done enough to deserve the funding.

 

DDT’s toxic legacy can harm granddaughters of women exposed, study shows

Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times

When Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” first sounded the alarm on DDT and its devastating effects on birds and fish, our understanding of how this pesticide affected humans was just beginning. Chemicals can take years to reveal their insidious power, and so for decades, scientists have been piecing together — study by study — the reasons why DDT still haunts us today.

 
Coal/Nuclear
 

China ‘must shut 600 coal-fired plants’ to hit climate target

Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

China must shut down nearly 600 of its coal-fired power plants in the next 10 years, replacing them with renewable electricity generation, to meet its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, a report has said.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

Now Is Our Last Best Chance to Confront the Climate Crisis

Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone

With Joe Biden in office, a serious plan to combat climate change is finally in our sights — but the clock is ticking, and there is no more room for error.

 

Our Single-Minded Drive to Create Jobs Has Its Drawbacks

Mark Gongloff, Bloomberg

On some issues, including green energy and immigration, an absence of American jobs can be a good thing.

 

Oil companies are now a more complex foe for environmentalists

Anjli Raval, Financial Times

Scrutiny of fossil-fuel producers also has to be more nuanced.

 






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