Morning Consult Energy: Supreme Court Nominee Points to His Rulings Upholding Environmental Regulations

Top Stories

  • Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh noted several cases in which he has upheld environmental regulations during his 12-year tenure on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, including in a 2010 decision that affirmed federal approval of California’s emissions limits and a 2014 ruling upholding federal fine particulate matter standards. During the hearing, he also showed skepticism over the Chevron doctrine of court deference to agencies’ judgment on ambiguous laws. (E&E News)
  • Official calendar summaries released for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for almost 50 meetings in May and June included only vague descriptions like “external meeting,” in contrast to previous meeting releases for Zinke, which had variously listed the topics or at least one attendee. An Interior spokeswoman said that it is “inaccurate” to consider the changes as a shift away from transparency and that the meeting memos are available to the public via Freedom of Information Act requests. (CNN)
  • As 50-50 partners in the proposed project, Houston-based Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline LLC and Midland-based EagleClaw Midstream Ventures LLC announced they had authorized the 42-inch, 430-mile $2 billion Permian Highway Pipeline, one of many gas and oil pipeline ventures in the Permian Basin intended to relieve pipe shortages caused by increased production. The pipeline would move gas to liquefied natural gas export facilities in Texas and elsewhere for electric generation in Texas and Mexico. (Houston Chronicle)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

American Association for Aerosol Research 10th International Aerosol Conference 7 a.m.
Environmental Busines Council New England Rhode Island program on PCBs 7:30 a.m.
Department of Energy Grid Modernization Initiative Peer Review 8 a.m.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speak at Bipartisan Policy Center and The Hill event 8 a.m.
Young Conservatives for Energy Reform & Christian Coalition Conservative Clean Energy Summit 9 a.m.
American Enterprise Institute panel on implementing the Paris agreement 9:30 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee hearing on perfluorinated chemicals 10 a.m.
House Federal Lands Subcommittee hearing on federal land bills 10 a.m.
House Intergovernmental Affairs and Interior, Energy and Environment Subcommittees hearing on permitting 10 a.m.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative event on carbon trading in the states 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works confirmation hearing on nominee for the Northern Border Regional Commission 10 a.m.
National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration event on nuclear security 11 a.m.
House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on federal disaster response and recovery 1 p.m.
U.S. Energy Association briefing on the Affordable Clean Energy Rule 2 p.m.
American Association for Aerosol Research 10th International Aerosol Conference 7 a.m.
Department of Energy Grid Modernization Initiative Peer Review 7:30 a.m.
Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and Kansas City joint conference on global oil market dynamics 7:30 a.m.
House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing on water resources projects and policy 9 a.m.
Young Conservatives for Energy Reform & Christian Coalition Conservative Clean Energy Summit 9 a.m.

CSR & Political Activism in the Trump Era

How to avoid a firestorm and improve your brand’s reputation.


Democratic states sue Trump for easing bird kill rules
Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

The attorney general of New York led eight states Wednesday in suing the Trump administration in federal court for easing rules energy companies have to follow on killing birds.

Former EPA chief’s Italy trip cost thousands more than previously reported
Miranda Green, The Hill

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s lavish 2017 taxpayer-funded trip to Italy cost thousands of dollars more than previously reported, internal agency documents show.

Oil Edges Up After Selloff
Christopher Alessi, The Wall Street Journal

Oil prices ticked higher Thursday following an investor selloff of crude futures after Brent failed to breach the $80-a-barrel threshold during a rally earlier this week.

Oil and Natural Gas

Chevron Launching Predictive Maintenance to Oil Fields, Refineries
Sara Castellanos, The Wall Street Journal

Chevron Corp. has launched an effort to predict maintenance problems in its oil fields and refineries, a capability that many companies have been working for years to cultivate and is just now gathering momentum.

Exxon Moves Ahead on China Projects as Trade Tensions Simmer
Stephen Stapczynski and Aibing Guo, Bloomberg

Exxon Mobil Corp., the U.S. energy behemoth, signed deals to move ahead on a proposed multibillion-dollar petrochemical project and a gas import terminal in southern China, contrasting with trade tensions between the two nations that may escalate this week.

Oil market ‘expects’ OPEC to extend partnership with other producers, secretary general Barkindo says
Herman Wang, Platts

OPEC is hoping to finalize a long-term cooperation pact to help manage the global oil market with Russia and other key oil producer allies at their next meeting in December, the producer group’s secretary general, Mohammed Barkindo, said Wednesday.

U.S., India Pledge Deeper Defense Ties Despite Iran Disagreement
Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg

The U.S. and India pledged to deepen strategic ties on Thursday despite the Trump administration’s threats of sanctions over purchases of Iranian oil and Russian weapons.

Feds: Sunoco pipeline spilled 33,500 gallons of gas at Darby Creek in June
Frank Kummer, The Philadelphia Inquirer

More than 33,500 gallons of gasoline spilled from a Sunoco pipeline along Darby Creek in Tinicum Township near Philadelphia International Airport in June, according to recently released federal data.

Offshore oil production shows signs of turnaround
Katherine Blunt, Houston Chronicle

Offshore oil production is showing early signs of a turnaround as crude prices hover near $70 a barrel, high enough to turn profits on deepwater projects considered too costly to complete during the oil bust.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Utility-Backed Fund Raises $681 Million to Invest in Clean Tech
Mark Chediak, Bloomberg

A private equity firm backed by some of the world’s largest utilities has raised $681 million to finance startups developing clean-energy technology.

Court Upholds Massachusetts’ Authority to Cap Power Plant CO2 Emissions
Marianne Lavelle, InsideClimate News

Massachusetts’ highest court on Tuesday resoundingly upheld the state’s power to impose limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

Oroville Dam repair costs soar past $1 billion
Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times

Fixing the Oroville Dam spillway wrecked by storms in 2017 will cost $1.1 billion — a $455-million hike from initial estimates — the state Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday.

Electricity generation drives need for natural gas demand response
Robert Walton, Utility Dive

As generation grows increasingly reliant on natural gas, challenges that bedevil electric utilities — peak demand and supply shortages for instance — are cropping up for local gas distribution companies in some regions. And in turn, a few gas companies are taking cues from electric demand management programs as they look for solutions.


PRC rejects SunZia transmission line project
Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican

It’s back to the drawing board for SunZia. The state Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to reject the company’s long-debated $2 billion high-voltage SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, two power lines that would cut across seven counties of Southern New Mexico.

Wind turbines could appear off Atlantic City shore by 2020
James Nash, North Jersey Record

Three wind turbines could sprout off the Atlantic City shore within two years, a modest start toward Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of powering millions of households from ocean breezes.


Wyoming coal leases linger, coal firm asks for more time
Heather Richards, Casper Star Tribune

Coal companies used to grumble about how long it takes to get coal leased from the federal government. That’s no longer the case.


Plans Move Forward for Privately Funded Storage of Nuclear Waste
Darrell Proctor, POWER Magazine

The Trump administration has revived the discussion of using Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a repository for the nation’s nuclear waste. Nevada officials remain opposed to the idea of putting spent nuclear fuel in long-term storage at a site about 100 miles from Las Vegas.


Local Climate Pledges Not Enough to Undo National Inaction
Christian Detisch, Law360 Environment

Pledges by cities, states, and businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions can have a significant impact toward meeting goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement, but local action alone is not enough to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new report.

Coastal Labs Studying Increased Flooding Consider Moving Because Of Increased Flooding
Tegan Wendland, NPR News

Scores of coastal research labs around the U.S. are helping communities plan for sea level rise. But now many are starting to flood themselves, creating a dilemma: stay by the coast and endure expensive flooding, or move inland, to higher ground, but away from their subject of study.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

A dangerous tipping point for New England’s wholesale electricity market
Dan Dolan, Utility Dive

The New England wholesale electricity market is reaching a crisis point having failed to meet the needs of individual states they serve, and the electricity resources the markets are supposed to support.

Washington governor on carbon tax, climate lawsuits & more
Amy Harder, Axios

Inslee, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, is emerging as a leading progressive politician and critic of President Trump. Excerpts of the interview are below — with some corresponding reality checks.

Research Reports

Q3 U.S. Energy Storage Monitor
Wood Mackenzie

U.S. Energy Storage Monitor is a quarterly publication of GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association (ESA). Each quarter, we gather data on U.S. energy storage deployments, prices, policies, regulations and business models. We compile this information into this report, which is intended to provide the most comprehensive, timely analysis of energy storage in the U.S.

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