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Morning Consult Energy: Interior Confirms Staff Excluded Certain Meetings from Bernhardt’s Public Calendar


Top Stories

  • The Interior Department admitted that staff intentionally excluded some meetings due to “internal protocol” from the public calendar of now-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that he had with fossil fuel, water and other interests and confirmed that he continues to use one Google document for scheduling that has often been overwritten by staff. Separately, the agency’s internal watchdog said it has launched an inquiry into Bernhardt’s “potential conflicts of interest and other violations.” (Roll Call)
  • Chevron Corp. said it scored another court victory in a legal case with Ecuador after the Supreme Court of the Netherlands dismissed the country’s request for an annulment of a tribunal’s order requiring Ecuador to stop the enforcement of a $9.5 billion judgment against the U.S. oil giant over pollution in the republic. The Supreme Court of Canada this month also dismissed requests to force the company’s Canadian unit to pay the judgment over pollution in Ecuador. (Reuters)
  • Microsoft Corp. said it will join the Climate Leadership Council advocacy group to promote a carbon tax, adding that it will reach its target of powering its data centers with 60 percent renewable power by the end of this year and will attain more than 70 percent renewable energy by 2023. The council’s founding members include oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and the group also advocates for ending other federal regulations targeting carbon emissions. (Bloomberg)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

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
04/23/2019
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Strategic Programmatic Overview of the Fuel Facilities and the Nuclear Materials Users Business Lines 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

Inside top EPA officials’ secret polluter meetings
Corbin Hiar, E&E News

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and high-ranking aides held several previously unreported meetings with a Missouri-based electric utility company that EPA claimed in 2011 had been violating the Clean Air Act since the Clinton administration, agency documents show.

Court orders EPA to reevaluate Obama-era power plant wastewater rule
Miranda Green, The Hill

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled on Friday that the EPA’s 2015 power plant wastewater pollution rule was not stringent enough, siding with environmentalists.

Trump’s nominee to lead NPS lands new job
Rob Hotakainen, E&E News

David Vela, President Trump’s pick to lead the National Park Service, has received a new assignment as the agency’s acting deputy director of operations, effective today. P. Daniel Smith, who announced the move in an email sent to all NPS employees Friday, will remain in his post as acting director.

One Republican’s Answer to the Green New Deal
Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal

To show he’s plenty serious about the magnitude of the problem, Mr. Alexander calls his strategy “A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy,” after the crash program to develop a nuclear bomb during World War II, and proposes spending the next five years meeting 10 big challenges.

‘Sexual Playthings’: #MeToo Moment for Anadarko’s Denver Office
Catherine Traywick, Bloomberg

Even as the #MeToo movement — and the backlash against it — rolls through the corridors of power, the energy industry has largely escaped the scandals that have ensnared scores of prominent men in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Washington and beyond. Interviews with six former employees of Anadarko’s Denver office paint a detailed picture of a place where life can be particularly difficult for women.

Oil slips to $71, hit by talk of higher OPEC+ production
Alex Lawler and Roslan Khasawneh, Reuters

Brent oil slipped to around $71 a barrel on Tuesday, pressured by expectations of higher U.S. inventories and concern about Russia’s willingness to stick with OPEC-led supply cuts.

Oil and Natural Gas

Federal court dismisses Trump administration’s repeal of coal, oil valuation rule
Valerie Volcovici, Reuters

A federal court has struck down the Trump administration’s repeal of an Obama-era policy aimed at boosting revenue for taxpayers by changing how energy companies value sales of coal, oil and gas extracted from federal and tribal land.

Occidental bid for Anadarko reached mid-$70s per share before Chevron deal disrupted talks: Sources
David Faber and Tom DiChristopher, CNBC

Merger talks between Occidental Petroleum and Anadarko Petroleum were ongoing when Chevron announced on Friday it would acquire Anadarko for $33 billion, preventing Occidental from potentially upping its offer price, sources tell CNBC.

U.S. shale output forecast to hit record 8.46 million bpd in May: EIA
Devika Krishna Kumar and Scott DiSavino, Reuters

U.S. crude oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by about 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) in May to a record 8.46 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly drilling productivity report on Monday.

Permian Water Company Solaris Says It’s Closing In On New Deal
Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg

Solaris Water Midstream LLC, which handles water supplies and disposal for Marathon Oil Corp., is closing in on a deal with another driller as explorers increasingly outsource one of the key components of fracking.

Texas fuels storage operator faces added costs for March fire and chemical spill
Collin Eaton, Reuters

The costs of a massive fire and chemical spill at a Houston petrochemical facility have begun trickling out, with a local official on Monday estimating emergency response costs at $800,000 for the first two weeks of the disaster alone.

U.S. Risks Roiling Oil Markets in Trying to Tighten Sanctions
Edward Wong and Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

By pressuring China and India to end or sharply reduce oil purchases from Iran and Venezuela, American officials are seeking to cut off a key economic lifeline for what the administration considers to be two rogue nations that threaten the stability of the Middle East and Latin America. But they must do that without roiling global markets, further straining relations with China and India or raising gasoline prices in the United States.

Utilities and Infrastructure

California regulators question PG&E’s vow to improve safety
Paul Elias, The Associated Press

alifornia regulators expressed skepticism Monday that Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s new leaders have enough professional experience to instill the deep corporate culture of safety they say the company has lacked.

Renewables

Solar company Sunnova losing some of its glow amid complaints
L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle

Sunnova Energy Corp., led by a charismatic chief executive, has become one of the nation’s most ardent public advocates for solar power, leasing rooftop systems to thousands of homeowners with the promise of providing them with low-cost electricity.

Vermont’s largest utility wants 100% renewable power by 2030
Wilson Ring, The Associated Press

Green Mountain Power announced over the weekend that it had set a goal of getting 100% of its power from carbon-free sources by 2025 and 100% from renewable sources by 2030.

The World’s Biggest Electric Vehicle Company Looks Nothing Like Tesla
Matthew Campbell and Ying Tian, Bloomberg

On the floor of a cavernous factory in southern China, dozens of unfinished cars, freshly painted in cherry red or dark silver, dangled 6 feet above a spotless concrete floor. Their engines had been installed a few moments earlier, but they were still skeletal, more the promise of vehicles than the real thing.

Coal

Here’s the nation’s only new coal plant. Is it the last?
Dylan Brown, E&E News

The University of Alaska, Fairbanks, hopes to complete work this May on a new 17-megawatt facility that will replace an existing 55-year-old coal plant as the source of power and heat for the nation’s northernmost campus.

Nuclear

U.S. agency submits uranium import probe to White House
David Shepardson and Valerie Volcovici, Reuters

The U.S. Commerce Department has submitted to the White House the results of a national security investigation into uranium imports, a spokesman for the department said on Monday.

Nevada gaming, tourism officials call on Congress to ignore Trump budget request for Yucca
Humberto Sanchez, The Nevada Independent

Nevada gaming and resort officials, including Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson and MGM Resorts International chief Jim Murren, wrote to members of Congress on Monday urging them not to fund efforts to store nuclear waste in Nevada.

Climate

Elizabeth Warren Presses Pentagon on Its Planning for Climate Change
Kate Aronoff, The Intercept

One of America’s major political parties may not yet be willing to acknowledge that climate change is real, but it is already having significant effects on the U.S. military. Flooding in Nebraska and a hurricane in Florida that damaged military installations led to a recent Pentagon request of $5 billion in relief money

Europe car groups face huge profit hit to cut CO2
Peer Campbell and Patrick McGee, Financial Times

They face a €95 fine for every gramme of CO2 that exceeds the target — multiplied by the number of cars sold that year.

4 Ways to Cut Plastic’s Growing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Phil McKenna, InsideClimate News

As concern over plastic waste grows, researchers are raising red flags about another problem: plastic’s rapidly growing carbon footprint. Left unchecked, greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastics will be nearly four times greater by mid-century, when they are projected to account for nearly one-sixth of global emissions.

Uber is still eyeing flying cars
Ben Geman, Axios

For trips of 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, a VTOL with a pilot and 3 passengers would generate 52% fewer emissions per “passenger kilometer” than an internal combustion car and 6% less than an EV. (That result assumes 1.54 occupants per ground car.)

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Electric cars are finally starting to take off. Congress should keep them affordable.
Jack Gillis, The Washington Post

They cost less to drive, accelerate quickly and pollute far less than their traditional counterparts. Electric vehicles are starting to make inroads into the U.S. market, with more than 1 million silently and efficiently zipping around our streets.

Research Reports

2019’s Greenest States
John S. Kiernan, WalletHub

In order to highlight the greenest states and call out those doing a poor job of caring for the environment, WalletHub compared each of the 50 states on 27 key metrics. Our data set ranges from LEED-certified buildings per capita to share of energy consumption from renewable resources. Read on for our findings, expert commentary and our full methodology.