Morning Consult Energy: EPA Officials Ignored Agency Experts on Asbestos Rule

Top Stories

  • Two internal memos show that senior Environmental Protection Agency officials disregarded dozens of EPA experts that pressed for a full ban on new uses of asbestos, choosing instead to allow potential approval of future uses of the carcinogenic substance, as the agency has permitted as of April. The internal experts criticized the EPA’s use of a “decades old” evaluative method of studying only six fibers of asbestos and disregarding legacy effects of mishandled asbestos. (The New York Times)
  • Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) cautioned that the House Oversight and Reform Committee could withhold salaries under existing law for Interior Department staff who are preventing interviews with agency employees over Secretary David Bernhardt’s recordkeeping habits. Interior has told the committee that its interview requests “are unnecessary at this time,” according to a new letter from the panel to Interior. (Politico)
  • Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum Corp. announced its midstream unit MPLX LP will spend $9 billion for a fellow master limited partnership, Andeavor Logistics LP, in a deal with a total enterprise value of $14 billion. Marathon had purchased the parent firm, Andeavor, last year for more than $23 billion. (Reuters)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

SEIA Oregon Solar Energy ConferenceSEIA Oregon Solar Energy Conference
Used Fuel Management Conference
Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Hearing on Asbestos 10:00 am
Environment and Public Works Hearing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program 10:00 am
PwC Digital Utilities of the Future 2 Conference
SEIA Oregon Solar Energy Conference
Water Environment Federation Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Symposium
Offshore Technology Conference
Used Fuel Management Conference
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s TRAVEL FORWARD Summit 8:00 am
Bipartisan Policy Center Event on Near-Term Policy Opportunities for Carbon Removal with Direct Air Capture 9:30 am
National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee hearing on Wildfire Resilient Communities 10:00 am
Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Hearing on the Mining Law of 1872 10:00 am
Energy Secretary Rick Perry Testifies at House Energy and Commerce Energy Subcommittee Hearing on the FY20 DOE Budget 10:15 am
PwC Digital Utilities of the Future 2 Conference
Water Environment Federation Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Symposium
Society of Petroleum Resources Economists’ 2019 Petroleum Resources Economics Conference
Argus Natural Gas Summit – Monetization Strategies
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Briefing on Digital Instrumentation and Control
DNV GL Energy Executive Forum
Greentech Media Solar Summit 2019
CSIS Global Cooling Prize event 2:00 pm
Defense Strategies Institute Expeditionary Power and Energy Summit
DNV GL Energy Executive Forum
Greentech Media Solar Summit 2019
POLITICO’s Reinventing American Energy: Modernizing U.S. Power Infrastructure for a Clean Energy Future 8:00 am
View full calendar

Morning Consult’s Senator Approval Rankings

The definitive ranking of every senator’s approval in America, based on over 470,000 survey interviews.

Morning Consult is also tracking every governor’s approval, as well as the 2020 Democratic primary and Donald Trump’s approval. See more.


Trump Interior chief says climate change response falls on Congress
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill

In his first hearing since being sworn in as secretary, the Trump administration official frequently put the onus on lawmakers for responding to global warming. He said that while he believes in climate change, Congress has not directed him to respond to it.

US denies sinking Arctic Council declaration over climate change
Jennifer Hansler, CNN

The US State Department on Tuesday denied that it had prevented the Arctic Council from signing a joint declaration after a meeting of the intergovernmental body ended with the release a short statement that did not include the phrase “climate change” instead of a formal declaration.

Oil steady near $70 as China demand offsets concerns about trade
Ron Bousso, Reuters

Brent oil held steady near $70 a barrel on Wednesday as record Chinese imports and tighter global supplies eased concerns about a deepening trade spat between the United States and China.

Oil and Natural Gas

Interior chief says offshore drilling plan not ‘indefinitely sidelined’
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Tuesday the department will complete development of a five-year offshore drilling plan, despite earlier comments that plan had been put on hold.

Shale Driller Pioneer Is Asking a Third of Senior Managers to Retire
Kevin Crowley and Joe Carroll, Bloomberg

Pioneer Natural Resources Co. dismissed speculation it’s spiffing up the company to entice potential buyers amid an escalating bidding war for fellow Permian Basin oil driller Anadarko Petroleum Corp. The stock plunged more than 8 percent.

After Gas Explosions in Massachusetts, Gas Company Settles for $80 Million
Jacey Fortin, The New York Times

A gas company announced Tuesday that it had reached a settlement with three communities in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts after explosions and fires ripped through dozens of homes there last year, killing one person and injuring several more.

US says it will complete Keystone environmental review
The Associated Press

U.S. government attorneys say the Trump administration plans to finish a new environmental review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada even if a federal appeals court throws out a lawsuit that blocked the project.

Canada Likely to Proceed With Trans Mountain Expansion
Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg

The Canadian government is likely to proceed with expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline when it announces its final decision on the conduit next month, officials familiar with the matter say.

Cameron LNG startup is ‘days away’: Sempra executive
Harry Weber, S&P Global Platts

The updated schedule may coincide with a May 14 visit to the Louisiana export facility planned by President Donald Trump.

Exxon Seeks $280 Million From Cuban Companies Over Seized Assets
Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on May 2, the first day American corporations were allowed to file after the Trump administration lifted a long-standing ban against such actions.

Occidental CEO Battles Oil-Field Giant to Rule the Permian Basin
Christopher M. Matthews et al., The Wall Street Journal

Driven by a risk-taking chief executive, Occidental Petroleum Corp. is trying to swallow a competitor close to its own size, outmaneuvering one of the world’s oil giants in the process.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Judge Orders PG&E Directors to Visit Town Destroyed by Wildfire
Lauren Hepler, The New York Times

In an unusual move, a Federal District Court judge on Tuesday ordered directors of Pacific Gas and Electric to visit the Northern California town destroyed by the state’s deadliest wildfire, which the utility has said was most likely started by its equipment.

FERC deadlock could continue past end of LaFleur’s term
Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur will likely stay on the commission after her term ends on June 30, but could depart earlier, according to her staff.

NYISO gets FERC approval to add energy storage to real-time market settlement rules
Jasmin Melvin, S&P Global Platts

Having received the nod from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, New York’s grid operator is moving forward with a proposal to prepare its real-time market settlement rules for the expansion of wholesale market participation by energy storage resources.


Tesla closes $2.7 billion mixed offering of shares, debt
Supantha Mukherjee, Reuters

Tesla Inc said on Wednesday it closed its $2.7 billion offering of stock and convertible notes and that it was over-subscribed, giving the electric carmaker much needed cash as it ramps up production. Tesla sold about $860 million in shares and $1.84 billion in debt, after the underwriters exercised their option to buy 15 percent in each offering.

Global renewables capacity growth stalled 2018 at 177 GW: IEA Andreas Franke, S&P Global Platts

Global renewable electricity capacity growth stalled in 2018 for the first time since 2001 — an unexpected flattening of growth trends that raises concerns about meeting long-term climate goals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Monday.

Massachusetts’ multipronged policy approach spurs distributed energy storage
HJ Mai, Utility Dive

Massachusetts is a leader in the deployment of distributed energy storage in America, due to forward-thinking legislative approaches and other measures aimed at unlocking the full potential of the resource, analysts told Utility Dive.

GM Cruise autonomous vehicle unit gets $1.15B investment
Tom Krisher, The Associated Press

Cruise announced the investment from a group led by T. Rowe Price on Tuesday and said it included money from GM, Honda and Japanese tech investment firm SoftBank.


TVA defends its role in trade group
Sean Reilly, E&E News

The Tennessee Valley Authority is defending its participation in a utility trade organization that has often been on the front lines of legal challenges to tighter air pollution standards.


US regulators reject calls for hearing in nuke storage case
The Associated Press

U.S. regulators have denied requests by watchdog and environmental groups that sought an evidentiary hearing challenging plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a storage facility for spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board announced its decision Tuesday after hearing arguments in Albuquerque earlier this year.


Air Pollution Crisis Exposes More Environmental Racism in Illinois
Sharon Lerner, The Intercept

Because the EPA has yet to set limits on the chemical that reflect this latest science, more than 100 census tracts around the country have elevated cancer risks due in part to ethylene oxide pollution. A 2018 EPA report, which was based on industrial facilities’ tally of their own emissions, clearly tied specific sites emitting the chemical to the cancer risk in each place.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The Guardian view on extinction: time to rebel
The Editorial Board, The Guardian

We humans pride ourselves on our ability to look beyond immediate concerns and think on a grander scale. While other creatures preen for mates, hunt prey or build homes, only humans ponder the nature of time, explore our place in the universe or are troubled by the question of what wiped out the dinosaurs.

Climate change suddenly matters in the 2020 race. Are the candidates ready?
Bill McKibben, Politico Magazine

For three decades in American politics, climate change has been the issue that wasn’t. Even as the temperature steadily rose, and evidence mounted that it was human behavior—and human policies—that were driving this change, candidates mostly deflected.

Congress can take these key steps after passing landmark climate bill
Christy Goldfuss, The Hill

This is a historic moment for climate action and the end of a dark era, as the House has passed landmark bipartisan legislation to tackle the climate crisis.

The EPA is meant to protect us. The Monsanto trials suggest it isn’t doing that
Nathan Donley and Carey Gillam, The Guardian

Ever since Monsanto introduced its line of Roundup weedkillers to the world in 1974, the products have been touted by the company and regulators as extremely safe. The EPA reiterated that stance last week.

Research Reports

Renewable capacity growth worldwide stalled in 2018 after two decades of strong expansion
International Energy Agency

After nearly two decades of strong annual growth, renewables around the world added as much net capacity in 2018 as they did in 2017, an unexpected flattening of growth trends that raises concerns about meeting long-term climate goals.