Morning Consult Energy: Colorado Governor Signs Bill Granting Municipalities More Authority Over Oil, Gas Project Siting

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  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed legislation into law that gives the state’s municipal governments more authority over oil and gas project siting and directs regulators to emphasize public safety and the environment over energy production. The law does not change the minimum distance between new oil wells and homes, as proposed on Colorado’s ballot last November, but could still make it more difficult to drill near Boulder and in Denver suburbs. (The Associated Press)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will not regulate pollution that enters surface waters from underlying groundwater, the agency said in an interpretive statement, explaining that passage through groundwater “breaks the causal chain” between the pollution and the surface water. The policy could impact the regulation of coal ash seepage, septic system releases and accidental spills. (E&E News)
  • Mary Kendall, deputy inspector general of the Interior Department, will voluntarily step down in May to become deputy inspector general of The National Railroad Passenger Corp., or Amtrak, according to Nancy DiPaolo, spokeswoman for Interior’s internal watchdog. The office’s investigations into former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are still underway, DiPaolo added. (Politico)  

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Smart Cities Week
NRECA Safety Leadership Summit
GPA Midstream Convention
2019 American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers Conference
CX Energy 2019 Conference and Expo
2019 Utility Regulation Conference
Energy Storage Association Conference and Expo
Midwest Renewable Energy 2019
Department of Energy Building Technologies Office 2019 Peer Review
Senate Environment and Public Works Hearing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Management of the 2019 Missouri River Basin Flooding 8:30 am
Atlantic Council Event on the Implications of Russia Sanctions Legislation on the Energy Sector 9:00 am
Energy Storage Association Conference and Expo
Midwest Renewable Energy 2019
CX Energy 2019 Conference and Expo
Department of Energy Building Technologies Office 2019 Peer Review
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission open meeting 10:00 am
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Strategic Programmatic Overview of the Fuel Facilities and the Nuclear Materials Users Business Lines 10:00 am
Electric Power Conference and Exhibition
North American Carbon World
University of Chicago Panel on Lower Emissions, Competitive Prices: Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver?
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The National Capital Area Chapter of the United States Association for Energy Economics Annual Spring Conference 8:00 am
POLITICO Event on Disaster Relief in an Era of Extreme Weather 8:00 am
SEIA Codes & Standards Symposium 8:30 am
U.S. Energy Association and SPE International joint briefing on energy sustainability: the pride of the oil and gas industry 11:30 am
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Trump signs Colorado River drought plan
Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press

The Colorado River drought contingency plan aims to keep two key reservoirs, Lakes Powell and Mead, from falling so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower. It was negotiated among the seven states that draw water from the river.

Collins receives more donations from Texas fossil fuel industry than from Maine residents
Alex Gangitano and Miranda Green, The Hill

In the first quarter of the 2019 funding year, the senator, who is up for reelection in 2020, snagged roughly $49,300 from Texas-based fossil fuel donors, including the president of Hunt Oil Co. and his wife, and Stephen Chazen, president and CEO at Magnolia Oil and Gas Corporation. Collins raised just over $1.4 million total this quarter.

Defections from trade group tied to EPA air chief mount
Sean Reilly, E&E News

DTE Energy Co. has dropped out of an electric industry trade group tied to EPA air chief Bill Wehrum’s former law firm, adding to a list of more than a half-dozen power producers that have confirmed their withdrawals in recent days.

Ocasio-Cortez admits bungling the Green New Deal rollout
Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News

“It was done in a way that it was easy to hijack the narrative around it,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery” on Sunday. “It was too fast.”

O’Rourke Declines to Sign Activists’ No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge
Emma Kinery, Bloomberg

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke declined to sign a pledge from climate activists not to accept any money from the fossil fuel industry, saying he won’t take donations from oil and gas executives, lobbyists or political action committees but won’t turn down contributions from workers.

Are anti-tax Republicans softening on the idea of a gas tax increase?
David Lightman, McClatchy DC

Higher state gasoline taxes have won approval in seven Republican-run states since President Donald Trump took office, an unusual step for a party adamantly opposed to more taxes and a sign that raising the federal gasoline tax may no longer be politically damaging.

Oil hits 2019 high above $72 on China growth, lower U.S. inventories
Noah Browning, Reuters

Brent oil hit a 2019 high above $72 a barrel on Wednesday, propelled by steady economic growth in China and a fall in U.S. crude stocks which defied expectations and signaled firm demand, while global supply remained tight.

Oil and Natural Gas

Trump’s Interior head recused himself from Wyoming sage grouse meeting due to oil and gas presence
Heather Richards, Casper Star Tribune

The Wyoming meeting that Bernhardt skipped was set up by Sen. John Barrasso, for Diemer True and others in a “high level Wyoming group” to speak with Bernhardt about captive breeding the sage grouse, according to the public schedule of Assistant Deputy Secretary Todd Willens, obtained by Western Values Project.

Exxon Mobil wins three exploration blocks offshore Argentina
Shanti S. Nair and Eliana Raszewski, Reuters

U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp said on Tuesday its unit and an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum had won three exploration blocks offshore Argentina. The three blocks will add about 2.6 million net acres to Exxon’s existing holdings in Argentina, the company said. The blocks are located in the Malvinas basin, about 200 miles (320 kms) offshore Tierra del Fuego.

Wildcatter Floyd Wilson Is Back With New Bird-Themed Oil Company
Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg

Fresh off getting elbowed aside as chief executive of Halcon Resources Corp., legendary wildcatter Floyd Wilson is back with his “ninth or tenth” oil company. He’s launched Falconer Oil and Gas Corp., a Houston-based venture with a vague mandate from Wilson to “make money,” just two months after he stepped down as CEO of Halcon following a battle with hedge fund Fir Tree Capital Management LP.

Hilcorp starts production at new Moose Pad viscous oil project in Alaska
Tim Bradner, S&P Global Platts

Milne Point is owned 50-50 by Hilcorp and BP, but is operated by Hilcorp.

Aramco plans to buy Shell’s stake in Saudi refining JV: sources
Rania El Gamal, Reuters

Saudi Aramco plans to buy Royal Dutch Shell’s 50 percent stake in Saudi refining complex SASREF, a joint venture between the firms, two sources said on Wednesday. One of the sources said an agreement has been reached between Aramco and Shell.

Utilities and Infrastructure

FERC to PJM: Clarify Allowable Costs for Energy Offers
Christen Smith, RTO Insider

The commission approved the Tariff changes, agreeing PJM’s existing rules “unduly discriminate” against combined cycle and combustion turbine generators by preventing them from recovering inspection costs as a “maintenance adder” in their energy prices.


The Fledgling Electric Bus Business Is Taking a Page From Solar
Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg

For all the talk about electric cars taking over the roads, electric buses still make up less than 0.1 percent of America’s public transportation fleet. Proterra Inc. thinks it’s found a way to change that — by taking a page from rooftop solar.

A Fuel-Cell Maker Needs a Savior and Nobody’s Raising a Hand
Chris Martin and David R. Baker, Bloomberg

Today, FuelCell has been reduced to a shell of the company it was — all but crushed by the economics of solar and wind power and outgunned by rivals including Bloom Energy Corp. that offer more flexible and less bulky systems.

In SEC vs. Elon Musk, a Question of When Tweets Matter
Dave Michaels, The Wall Street Journal

Elon Musk agreed with the government last year to have Tesla Inc. lawyers preapprove tweets that “reasonably could contain” material information about the electric car maker’s business. Those words are now at the center of court-ordered talks between the two parties over his 2018 civil-fraud settlement.

A $255 Billion EV Debate Is Raging Among the World’s Biggest Automakers
David Welch and Chester Dawson, Bloomberg

A $255 billion debate is raging among the world’s biggest automakers. Some think electric cars made by companies besides Tesla Inc. stand the chance to be hits, while others think they’ll fail to really sell.


Ky. Rep. says Ocasio-Cortez tweet is uncivil and puts coal mine tour in doubt
Emily Kopp, Roll Call

The Kentucky congressman who invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tour a coal mine in his district appeared to rescind the invitation this week after she tweeted a critique of fellow Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.


Entergy Agrees to Sell Indian Point Nuclear-Power Facility
Kimberly Chin, The Wall Street Journal

The company said Tuesday it would sell its Indian Point Energy Center, in Buchanan, N.Y., to Nuclear Asset Management Co., a subsidiary of Holtec International.

Nuclear plant bailout debate kicks off at Statehouse
Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch

More than 30 minutes passed during Tuesday’s initial hearing on a plan to provide about $150 million a year to FirstEnergy Solutions before anyone mentioned the bankrupt company or its slated-to-close nuclear power plants in Ohio.

The fight’s not over yet on state nuclear credits
Pamela King, E&E News

By declining a pair of challenges filed by the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), the justices preserved two appellate court rulings upholding the states’ zero-emission credit (ZEC) policies. Other states with an interest in developing their own incentive programs now have a legally tested blueprint for doing so, legal experts said yesterday.

Uranium Imports Aren’t a Threat, Obama’s Energy Chief Says
Ari Natter, Bloomberg

A former U.S. energy secretary dismissed the idea that an influx of foreign uranium imports is a threat to national security, rejecting what could be a justification for future import quotas to protect domestic suppliers.


Trump Fed pick: No to climate science, yes to carbon tax
Scott Waldman, E&E News

Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argued for years that a carbon tax would benefit the economy if it resulted in fewer environmental regulations and if it were offset by a lower income tax rate.

Climate hawks push clean energy mandates to pick off Republicans skeptical of carbon taxes
Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress are planning to introduce bills requiring utilities to obtain an increasing amount of electricity from renewable and other zero-carbon energy sources.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The financial sector must be at the heart of tackling climate change
Mark Carney et al., The Guardian

The prime responsibility for climate policy will continue to sit with governments. And the private sector will determine the success of the adjustment. But as financial policymakers and prudential supervisors, we cannot ignore the obvious risks before our eyes.

Stamping out wildfires requires invisible infrastructure
Rachelle Chong, The Hill

The good news is that new technologies are being developed every day to prevent and quickly spot wildfires caused by utility and communication infrastructure. However, there is a lack of adequate funding for infrastructure needed to be extended in high fire risk utility service areas to deploy these advanced technologies that can save lives and property.

Research Reports

Strategies to reduce the global carbon footprint of plastics
Jiajia Zheng and Sangwon Suh, Nature Climate Change

Over the past four decades, global plastics production has quadrupled1. If this trend were to continue, the GHG emissions from plastics would reach 15% of the global carbon budget by 2050.