Morning Consult Energy: Facing Wildfire Risks, PG&E Cuts Power to Hundreds of Thousands of California Customers

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  • PG&E Corp. began cutting power to California customers today to avoid wildfires, with as many as 800,000 homes and businesses across 34 counties expected to go without electricity for several days — the utility’s largest precautionary shutoff to date. The state is experiencing gale-force winds of up to 70 miles per hour through midday tomorrow, according to PG&E, which shut off power for about 513,000 northern Californian customers after midnight and said that more shutoffs are possible at noon. (Reuters)
  • An analysis of global corporations’ emissions shows that the top 20 emitting companies have released 35 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide and methane, or 480 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent since 1965, according to the U.S.-based Climate Accountability Institute. The study said that 90 percent of the emissions tallied from those companies came from the use of their products, including gas, natural gas, thermal coal and jet fuel. (The Guardian)
  • Acting Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley denied the science behind global warming and the existence of an Ozone hole in a 1992 Heritage Foundation speech, and compared undocumented immigrants to cancer, according to a review of his past statements. Pendley has also repeated anti-Muslim rhetoric and once tweeted an article from anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer, alleging that Islam and America were at war. (CNN)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Getting to Zero Forum
Smart Cities Connect Fall Conference and Expo
Interstate Natural Gas Association of America President Donald Santa Speaks at R Street Institute Event on Pipelines and Property Rights: Are They in Conflict? 11:30 am
FERC Commissioner Richard Glick Keynotes at American Wind Energy Association Wind Energy Finance & Investment Conference 2019
Getting to Zero Forum
Smart Cities Connect Fall Conference and Expo
ReedSmith 5th Annual Energy and Commodities Conference 7:30 am
E2 Event on Foreseeing Our Climate Future: What Will It Take to Limit the Damage 11:30 am
E2 Hosts an Evening with Congressman Scott Peters: The Climate Playbook & Opposition to Expanded Offshore Drilling 6:00 pm
Getting to Zero Forum
FERC Commissioner Richard Glick Keynotes at American Wind Energy Association Wind Energy Finance & Investment Conference 2019
Global Ethanol Summit
Global Ethanol Summit
Global Ethanol Summit
NAWEA/WindTech 2019 Conference
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Trump told Perry and State Department officials as early as May to talk to Giuliani about Ukraine
Katelyn Polantz et al., CNN

President Donald Trump directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and two top State Department officials to deal with his private attorney Rudy Giuliani when the Ukrainian President sought to meet Trump, in a clear circumvention of official channels, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

‘Fairly Balanced’ Advisory Boards Beyond Court Review, EPA Says
Porter Wells, Bloomberg Environment

Courts don’t have the authority to review the makeup of the EPA’s scientific advisory boards because staffing such committees is a fully discretionary agency action guided by language that doesn’t allow for judicial interpretation, the government told the First Circuit.

On Climate Change, Biden Has a Record and a Plan. Young Activists Want More
Lisa Friedman, The New York Times

A new poll made public Tuesday indicated that Mr. Biden remained the front-runner among Democrats and those who count themselves as “climate voters.” But other candidates, like Elizabeth Warren, are fast closing in. Meantime, the former vice president keeps being accosted on live television and at campaign events by young activists challenging his commitment and his perceived coziness with fossil fuel interests.

Elizabeth Warren’s Fracking Proposal Has Shale Investors Weighing E&P Risk
Michael Bellusci, Bloomberg

The prospect of Elizabeth Warren becoming the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, or the 46th president of the United States, has energy investors worrying about risks to hydraulic fracturing.

Oil steadies as U.S.-China tensions offset supply concern
Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Reuters

Oil prices traded flat on Wednesday as fading hopes for progress in U.S.-China trade talks pressured the market by raising uncertainty about global economic growth, while unrest in OPEC members Iraq and Ecuador helped limit losses.

Oil and Natural Gas

Aramco IPO Prospectus Due to Be Published Before Month-End
Sarah McFarlane et al., The Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia’s preparations to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co. are in full swing, with the company expected to publish its prospectus before the end of the month, people familiar with the matter said, paving the way for a final decision soon after on whether to proceed with the float.

Exxon Mobil Weighs Sale of Malaysian Offshore Assets
Manuel Baigorri and Elffie Chew, Bloomberg

The company is working with an adviser on the potential sale of the Malaysian assets, which could raise about $2 billion to $3 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

Trump’s fast-tracking of oil pipelines hits legal roadblocks
Scott DiSavino and Stephanie Kelly, Reuters

The delays have caused the two giant gas pipelines – Dominion Energy Inc’s Atlantic Coast and EQM Midstream Partners LP’s Mountain Valley – to increase their cost estimates by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the companies. The Atlantic Coast pipeline may never be completed unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns a lower-court decision blocking its planned route, analysts said.

Trump Makes Nice With Farmer Who Chided Him Over Ethanol
Mario Parker, Bloomberg

Donald Trump has long said he loves farmers. And farmers have seemingly loved him back, even as the trade war with China rages. Ethanol policy was the one area that was starting to test that love, but a new plan announced by the administration may have helped resolve the issue.

Aramco may restore full Saudi crude production capacity earlier than end-Nov target: CEO
Herman Wang, S&P Global Platts

Saudi Arabia’s crude production has returned to pre-attack levels of around 9.9 million b/d, and maximum sustained capacity of 12 million b/d could be restored earlier than the end of November target that officials have aimed for, the head of Saudi Aramco said Wednesday.

Investors get lost in Big Oil’s carbon accounting maze
Shadia Nasralla and Ron Bousso, Reuters

Investors have poured money into so-called sustainable funds, which take into account companies’ environmental, social, legal and other standards, and funds are under pressure from their customers and authorities to make those standards robust.

Small Ships Are Next Big Thing for This $150 Billion Market
Anna Shiryaevskaya, Bloomberg

Fifty-five years after the first commercial LNG tanker sailed from Algeria, this segment of the gas industry is pushing into ever more niche markets, upending the economics of energy supply in the process.

US EIA cuts Q2 2020 oil prices by $5/b on demand growth uncertainty
Meghan Gordon, S&P Global Platts

The US Energy Information Administration on Tuesday sharply lowered its oil price outlook for early next year, as it sees increasing uncertainty about economic and oil demand growth more than offsetting the higher risks of supply disruptions after the Saudi oil facility attack.

COSCO Dalian’s ships shut off tracers after U.S. sanctions announced
Shu Zhang and Roslan Khasawneh, Reuters

About one-third of the oil tankers owned by COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) have shut off their ship-tracking transponders since the United States imposed sanctions on the company for allegedly shipping Iranian crude, shipping data showed.

Secretive national oil companies hold our climate in their hands
Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

State-owned companies with rights over the exploitation of national fossil fuel reserves now account for a majority of oil and gas produced around the world, overtaking publicly listed companies such as ExxonMobil, BP and Shell.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Puerto Rico Turns to Russian Gas Supply as Trade Expands
Naureen S. Malik, Bloomberg

Catalunya Spirit, a liquefied natural gas tanker transiting the English Channel, is slated to dock in southern Puerto Rico on Oct. 30, according to vessel tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.  


Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
Ben Guarino, The Washington Post

The scientists tamed the element lithium, a soft, silver-white metal that was formed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang. Pure lithium is so reactive must be kept in oil. 

Proposals would dam Little Colorado River for hydropower
Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press

Pumped Hydro Storage LLC is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for preliminary permits to study the sites east of Grand Canyon National Park over three years. None of it will move forward without permission from the Navajo Nation.

Tesla Needs Its Battery Maker. A Culture Clash Threatens Their Relationship.
Tim Higgins and Takashi Mochizuki, The Wall Street Journal 

Last year, Elon Musk puffed a marijuana blunt during a live-video interview in California. Halfway around the world, executives at Japan’s Panasonic Corp., Tesla Inc.’s automotive battery supplier, watched with alarm.


Mixing water, Powder River Basin coal ash dangerous to human health, new research finds
Camille Erickson, Casper Star Tribune

The dusty waste produced when power plants burn coal is often disposed in dry landfills or ponds, including at several facilities across Wyoming.


Challengers seeking vote on nuclear bailout file lawsuit
Jim Provance, The Toledo Blade

Facing a petition deadline in less than two weeks, those seeking to subject Ohio’s new nuclear bailout law to voter referendum have sued in federal court to suspend portions of state law they claim delayed the start of their signature-gathering process.


Green Groups Align With Trump for Part of Climate Rule Case
Ellen M. Gilmer, Bloomberg Environment

At issue is the EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, a modest effort to spur reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The just-finalized regulation replaces the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, a more aggressive emissions-reduction program that never took effect.

Alaska Supreme Court to hear youths’ climate change lawsuit
Dan Joling, The Associated Press

The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit that claims state policy on fossil fuels is harming the constitutional right of young Alaskans to a safe climate.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Stealth Regulations Are Taxing Low-Emissions Transportation
Oliver McPherson-Smith and Steve Pociask, Morning Consult

Protecting the environment and consumer prices are two issues that most Americans are concerned about. So it’s not surprising that federal bureaucrats have been purposefully quiet about proposals to impose sweeping new regulations that would hamper the country’s freight railroads — the most environmentally sound way to move freight over land — and do so at consumer expense.

How to kickstart a rapid global warming slowdown
U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Margaret Leinen, The Hill

The Super Pollutants Act of 2019 would reduce three of the most potent types of short-lived climate pollutants in the U.S. and abroad–methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs–by supporting proven technology, mitigation activities, and emission reduction strategies.

It’s time to rein in the fossil fuel giants before their greed chokes the planet
Richard Heede, The Guardian

We find that, chiefly from the combustion of their products, the top 20 companies have collectively produced 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane since 1965 – 35% of all fossil fuel emissions worldwide in that time.

Research Reports

Puerto Rico Electricity Grid Recovery: Better Information and Enhanced Coordination Is Needed to Address Challenges
U.S. Government Accountability Office

As of July 2019, neither FEMA nor HUD had funded long-term grid recovery projects in Puerto Rico, but DOE had provided technical assistance. Progress on grid recovery efforts has been hindered in part because FEMA has not provided clear written information on what will be eligible for funding. 

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