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Morning Consult Energy: Germany Charges Former Volkswagen CEO in Diesel Emissions Cheating Scandal


Top Stories

  • Former Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn and four others were charged in Germany over alleged fraud and violation of competition statutes related to the automaker’s past use of diesel emissions cheating software, according to public prosecutors in Germany. The prosecutors say the five officials knew about the use of the software since 2014 and allege that Winterkorn condoned a software update to cars in November that year to hide the cheating program. (Bloomberg)
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee contributed to the White House’s removal of David Hill (R) from consideration for the FERC board and chair position, according to sources familiar with the matter, some of whom said that Chatterjee called energy companies and Republican allies to undercut Hill’s candidacy. Hill had also met with Energy Secretary Rick Perry in February and said he would remain fuel neutral in the post, which sources said contributed to a previously reported effort by coal executives to prevent his nomination. (E&E News)
  • The National Archives and Records Administration on April 1 gave the Interior Department 30 days to respond to Democrats’ concerns over then-acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s official calendars, according to a letter to Interior. House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) had asked the archives agency to investigate after Bernhardt said he does not maintain a daily calendar of activities. (Politico)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

04/15/2019
Smart Cities Week
NRECA Safety Leadership Summit
2019 American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers Conference
CX Energy 2019 Conference and Expo
Department of Energy Building Technologies Office 2019 Peer Review
House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Hearing on Oil and Gas Development: Impacts on Air Pollution and Sacred Site 10:00 am
04/16/2019
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
Energy Storage Association Conference and Expo
Midwest Renewable Energy 2019
2019 Utility Regulation Conference
Department of Energy Building Technologies Office 2019 Peer Review
Kleinman Center for Energy Policy event: Energy Transitions: The Critical Path 12:00 pm
EPA Small Business Conference: Can We Do Business? 4:30 pm
04/17/2019
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
04/18/2019
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
View full calendar

The Brands That Define American Culture and Commerce

Morning Consult analyzed over 400,000 survey interviews to determine this year’s rankings. See who made the list.

General

Bernhardt faces hefty to-do list
Michael Doyle and Jennifer Yachnin, E&E News

Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss.

Trump wields presidential power on pipeline, energy projects
Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

Trump has shown a willingness to override his own agencies to accomplish his aims. His actions, if upheld by the courts, could consolidate power over energy projects at the White House, increasing the influence of the president’s political advisers and potentially cutting out experts and career officials throughout the government.

EPA May Have Tipped Hand on Weakening Washington Water Rule
Tripp Baltz, Bloomberg BNA

The Environmental Protection Agency erroneously published a proposal that would make changes to Washington state’s clean water rule, raising the alarm of the state’s top environmental official and several conservation groups. The agency recently issued—and this week retracted—a request to make changes to how it classifies water quality in the state.

Employees brace for ‘organized chaos’
Kevin Bogardus, E&E News

The reorganization, known as the regional realignment, has been seven months in the making and has been beset with delays. Internal records obtained by E&E News show that EPA had originally proposed to have the initiative finished by the end of last year, which was later pushed to February and March of this year.

Oil pauses; focus on future supply direction
Aaron Sheldrick, Reuters

Oil prices nudged lower on Monday after international benchmark Brent hit a fresh five-month high in the previous session, with investors eyeing mixed signals on global supply.

Oil and Natural Gas

Atlantic Richfield plans to spend another $100 million on Butte cleanup
Susan Dunlap, Montana Standard

According to Abendhoff, Atlantic Richfield has spent over $1.4 billion on investigation, remediation and restoration in the entire upper Clark Fork River basin.

Chevron’s Anadarko Deal Seen Putting Permian Drillers Into Play
Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg

Chevron Corp.’s $33 billion bid for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. may presage a new Permian Basin buying spree, with Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Concho Resources Inc. among the next prime targets.

Tellurian’s CEO Meg Gentle is on a mission to change how the world gets its natural gas
Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle

While Cheniere’s former frontman Charif Souki is credited with transforming the U.S. liquefied natural gas industry, that transformation likely wouldn’t have been possible without the fortitude and financial planning that Gentle brought to the company, observers who know Gentle and the industry say.

Utilities and Infrastructure

California Governor Seeks to Protect Utilities From the Cost of Wildfires
Peter Eavis, The New York Times

With another wildfire season looming, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Friday urged the state Legislature to help Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities bear the cost of fires started by their equipment.

Plan could save SCE&G customers $1 billion after VC Summer. Dominion is fighting it
Avery G. Wilks, The State

SCE&G customers could save up to $1 billion on their power bills over the next 20 years — that is, if the S.C. General Assembly approves a different way to pay off the utility’s debt from the failed V.C. Summer nuclear plant construction project, state regulators say.

New TVA head says board right on coal plant closures
Jonathan Mattise and Travis Loller, The Associated Press

Lyash did not signal any big changes for the utility with the change in leadership.

Renewables

After debate, huge solar power plant coming to Northern Virginia
Neal Augenstein, WTOP

Solar energy company sPower will build the $615 million 500-megawatt project on about 3,500 acres, or more than 5 square miles of land in the western Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Volkswagen pushes battery partners to build Gigafactories
Edward Taylor, Reuters

Volkswagen is pushing its joint venture partners including SK Innovation (SKI) to build electric car battery plants which have at least one Gigawatt manufacturing capacity, Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Reuters.

Citi Bike Pulls New Electric Bikes Off Streets, Citing Safety Concerns
Tyler Pager, The New York Times

A month ago, Jordan Wyckoff was riding an electric Citi Bike to work in Brooklyn when he slammed on the brakes to avoid a minivan that swerved in the bike lane. But when he hit the brakes, the front wheel locked up, sending Mr. Wyckoff over the front of the handlebars and onto the pavement.

Talks Between GM and Amazon-Backed Electric-Car Startup Rivian Are Dead
David Welch, Bloomberg

Talks between General Motors Co. and electric-vehicle startup Rivian Automotive Inc. about the largest U.S. carmaker buying an equity stake have reached an impasse and may be dead, people familiar with the matter said.

Coal

Trump executive order could pave way for Washington coal port terminal
Ramsey Scott, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

An executive order from President Donald Trump that could help pave the way for coal exports garnered praise from Wyoming leadership this week. But critics see it as a way to lessen local control over issues of water quality in favor of industry’s bottom line.

Nuclear

U.S. Nuclear Firms’ New Plan to Cash In on Saudi Deal
Erin Banco, The Daily Beast

To get ahead, U.S. companies are mulling over whether to turn a consortium of companies—which some have dubbed “Team USA”—into one that includes foreigners, namely state-run energy firms from South Korea, in an attempt to strengthen its bid in Saudi Arabia.

Los Alamos National Laboratory site resumes shipping nuclear waste
Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican

Safety problems for the past five years prevented Los Alamos National Laboratory from using an important building built to temporarily store and load drums of radioactive waste. But officials on Friday said the structure, known as the Radioassay and Nondestructive Testing Shipping Facility, or RANT, has reopened.

Climate

Daimler under fire again for emissions cheating
Joshua Posaner, Politico EU

Daimler is accused of installing so-called defeat device software in thousands of its SUV vehicles in an investigation launched by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.

Central American Farmers Head to the U.S., Fleeing Climate Change
Kirk Semple, The New York Times

Gradually rising temperatures, more extreme weather events and increasingly unpredictable patterns — like rain not falling when it should, or pouring when it shouldn’t — have disrupted growing cycles and promoted the relentless spread of pests.

Greenhouse gas reductions slow in 2017
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill

Emissions have fallen by nearly 15 percent since hitting a recent high in 2007, but this year’s figures significantly trail last year’s and show progress may be dwindling.

Climate-Change Funds Try to Profit From a Warming World
Tim Gray, The New York Times

For investors, the risks of climate change are already raging, with intense storms and wildfires leading to property damage and business disruption.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The Green New Deal is more than a resolution — it’s a revolution
U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), The Boston Globe

Extreme weather fueled by climate change is wreaking havoc across the country, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus are making a mockery of the debate on climate action.

Green New Deal unaffordable, unattainable, unrealistic
U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Indianapolis Business Journal

his might help explain why most Democrats voted “present” rather than support this plan to combat climate change. I joined 56 other senators in voting no because it would harm Hoosiers without sustainably advancing national environmental, health care and economic objectives.

Green New Deal has a dirty secret
Jim DeMint, The Hill

The secret of the Green New Deal is that this valentine to socialism from Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already obsolete. For the American people have already passed their Green New Deal, through the miracle of free market innovation — not in the House and Senate but in the Permian Basin, at the Bakken Formation and the Marcellus Shale.

Trump striking out on coal and nuclear energy
Amy Harder, Axios

For a president who has aggressively pushed the legal and political boundaries to make good on policy priorities, particularly immigration, the lack of action in this area is striking two years into Trump’s administration.

Research Reports

White Paper: Antitrust Analysis of NOPEC Legislation
Harry First and Darren Bush, Securing America’s Future Energy

It is our view that this proposed legislation provides a relatively moderate approach to applying U.S. antitrust law to the activities of the likely participants in this cartel.