Democrat Ed Markey presses Trump to head off fuel shortages
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner
Democratic Sen. Ed Markey warned President Trump on Wednesday about coming gasoline shortages in the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, while pressing him to open the nation’s strategic oil reserve in order to avoid shortages and price spikes. The senator explained that gasoline prices are not responding to the price of crude oil, which has gone down, rather than up, in recent days.
Senators’ silence kills probe into Zinke’s alleged Alaska threats
Devin Henry, The Hill
The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is closing its investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s alleged threats against an Alaska senator during an ObamaCare fight last month after the lawmaker and her in-state colleague refused to participate in the probe. In a letter to a pair of House Democrats who requested the investigation, Interior’s Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall said her office “does not believe it could meaningfully investigate the matter further” because Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, declined to be interviewed as part of the inquiry.
Harvey Live Updates: Explosions and Black Smoke Reported at Chemical Plant
The New York Times
As water began to recede in some parts of flood-ravaged Houston and as Harvey, now a tropical depression, shifted its wrath to the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas, there were reports early Thursday that a chemical plant at risk of exploding had done just that. There were two explosions at the Arkema plant in Crosby, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston, around 2 a.m., the French chemicals company that owns the plant said in a statement.
Oil and Natural Gas
Gasoline spikes, crude slumps as Harvey wreaks havoc on U.S. refiners
Henning Gloystein, Reuters
Gasoline prices hit fresh 2-year highs on Thursday as flooding from tropical storm Harvey knocked out almost a quarter of U.S. refineries, while crude oil prices fell again on the resulting drop in demand. Fearing a gasoline supply squeeze, U.S. gasoline prices rose to a more than 2-year high of $1.935 per gallon early on Thursday.
Energy chief Rick Perry: Brace for higher gas prices, but storm isn’t sign of manmade climate change
Todd Gillman, The Dallas Morning News
Energy Secretary Rick Perry voiced optimism Wednesday that despite the staggering magnitude of storm damage, Congress will come through with the funds needed to help Texas rebuild. With one-fifth of the nation’s refinery capacity idled — and 40 percent of the Gulf Coast capacity — gasoline prices are sure to spike temporarily, especially in the region.
Asia PVC price hits 5-month high on US supply concerns after Harvey
Fumiko Dobashi, Platts
The CFR China PVC price benchmark rose $10/mt week on week to hit a five-month high of $945/mt on Wednesday, fueled by a US supply crunch after Harvey forced the shutdown of a few PVC plants, market sources said Thursday. For monthly PVC negotiations in Asia, market sources said Asian PVC producers would start offering at more than $1,000/mt CFR China for October.
Danish Energy Company Is Turning the Page on Oil and Gas
Sarah Kent, The Wall Street Journal
Dong Energy AS, Denmark’s majority state-owned energy company, is selling off its last oil and natural-gas fields in a deal expected to close this month or next. The billion-dollar-plus sale is part of a broader plan to significantly reduce its exposure to fossil fuels and produce energy primarily from renewable sources.
Utilities and Infrastructure
Utilities finish last piece of CapX2020 power grid expansion
The Associated Press
Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power say they’ve completed a 70-mile power line in South Dakota that’s the last piece of a major expansion of the upper Midwest power grid called CapX2020. In the announcement Tuesday, the Minnesota-based utilities say eight wind projects and a natural gas power plant are waiting to connect to the line.
‘Clean energy’ petition targets pollution in New Mexico
Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press
The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and consumer advocates are petitioning state regulators to consider a new energy standard they say would protect utility customers and shareholders from the costs and risks associated with future environmental regulations. The proposed standard calls for electric utilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that serve customers in the state by 4 percent a year through 2040.
Wind and solar power are on track to exceed expectations. Again.
David Roberts, Vox
In fact, two new reports — one on solar, one on wind — make the point vividly. They argue that the radical trends of the last decade are going to continue, which is all that needs to happen for the energy system to tip over from disruption into revolution.
Vice president tells state chamber ‘war on coal is over’
Fred Pace, The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
Vice President Mike Pence came to the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 81st Annual Meeting and Business Summit at The Greenbrier and declared, “The war on coal is over.” Pence said on Wednesday that the president has also called on Congress to fundamentally reform the nation’s tax code for the first time in more than 30 years by passing a historic tax cut.
Echoing DOE Report, Industry Study Touts Coal ‘Resiliency’
Amanda Durish Cook, RTO Insider
A new study prepared for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) spotlighting the “resiliency” of coal-fired generators echoes the findings of a U.S. Department of Energy report released earlier this month. The study’s release may prove to be an early salvo in the possible “fuel wars” predicted by one former senior FERC official who said that new FERC commissioners could break with agency tradition by each acting as advocates for favored types of resources.
New Potential Toxin Found in Coal Burning Emissions
Robbie Harris, WVTF News
Scientists have discovered a particle, created when coal is burned, that had never before been identified as part of that process. And there’s concern it could also be dangerous to humans.
China plans safety inspections at coal mines, chemical plants
Meng Meng and Josephine Mason, Reuters
China’s cabinet said the government will launch nationwide safety inspections of coal mines, chemical plants, gas operators and logistics firms, starting in September. The new round of inspections comes after an environmental crackdown in August roiled commodities markets, while safety inspections in major coal producing regions have crimped supplies, fuelling a price rally.
Southern Co. decides to press ahead with Vogtle expansion
Kristi E. Swartz and Hannah Northey, E&E News
Southern Co. and other utilities building the Vogtle nuclear expansion project in Georgia are prepared to finish the reactors but will lay out a set of assurances that must be met in a filing with state utility regulators tomorrow, E&E News has learned. This means Plant Vogtle will remain the only set of nuclear reactors under construction in the United States, at least for now.
Santee Cooper fire sale? SC governor in talks with 5 utilities about utility’s future
Avery Wilks and Jamie Self, The State
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster is negotiating with five Fortune 500 companies about buying some or all of South Carolina’s state-owned utility, The State newspaper has learned. None of those firms want to restart immediately the construction of the two Fairfield County nuclear reactors that Santee Cooper abandoned in July, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
Katrina. Sandy. Harvey. The debate over climate and hurricanes is getting louder and louder.
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
Harvey, with its unprecedented rains, has spawned an urgent debate over whether this is what a changing climate looks like. Today, despite recent charges from Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Liz Bowman that they are “engaging in attempts to politicize an ongoing tragedy,” many researchers are more willing to simply say that Harvey’s record rains were worse because of our hotter, wetter climate.
Energy hogs: China targets farm waste as a ‘clean’ power source
Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason, Reuters
China will pay farmers to turn animal poo into fertilizer and power, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday, as Beijing cracks down on agricultural pollution that has for years leaked into rivers and lakes, angering Chinese residents. The agriculture ministry gave no details about the size of the subsidies, but the move could be a big step toward curbing chemical fertilizer use and cutting water pollution.
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
Harvey’s Destruction Demonstrates Value of Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Ernest J. Moniz, Morning Consult
The nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with its supplies of crude oil and gasoline, was created by statute to protect the U.S. economy from “severe energy supply interruption.” This authority, exercised by a presidential declaration, can be used in the event of a disruption of either domestic or imported petroleum products.
Texas Nuke Plant Stays Online Amid Harvey. Give Credit To Resilient Operators, Robust Design And A Plan
Rod Adams, Forbes
Despite the forces of nature and in spite of the opportunistic efforts of professional opponents, a large nuclear power station located in the middle of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation continues to steadily produce 100% of its rated power output.
Beyond Houston, a World Awash
Editorial Board, The New York Times
Houston isn’t the only major city reeling from record rainfall and devastating floods. In Mumbai, India, where summer monsoons are annual events, as much rain fell in 12 hours on Tuesday as normally does over 11 days in a typical monsoon, paralyzing the city, India’s financial capital.
Help Afghans Exploit Their Mineral Riches
Michael Silver, The Wall Street Journal
Afghanistan owns one of the world’s richest untapped deposits of rare-earth and critical metals. The Afghans cannot develop these vast deposits on their own, but if they get U.S. help to do the job right, they will have an opportunity to move from a war-torn nation to a self-sustaining economy.
The Contribution of the Coal Fleet to America’s Electricity Grid
PA Consulting Group Inc.
The U.S. electricity grid is rapidly evolving due to the low-cost supply of natural gas and the increasing penetration of grid-scale and behind-the-meter intermittent renewable generation. As explained in this report, these traditional resources—including coal-fueled generation—provide attributes that will remain critical to the grid as it continues to evolve.