Morning Consult Energy: Colorado Ballot to Ask Voters Whether to Ban Drilling Near Homes, Businesses

Top Stories

  • Following its validation of a sufficient number of petition signatures, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced the state will vote this November on whether to ban oil and gas drilling within 2,500 feet of homes, businesses and other areas deemed vulnerable, which the state says would make 85 percent of Colorado’s non-federal land off-limits. The initiative is expected to be challenged in court if it passes. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • No staff relocations will occur “during the initial implementation” of the planned reorganization of the Interior Department, which would separate the agency’s offices across 12 new “Unified Regions” delineated by ecosystem and watershed boundaries, according to an email from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to all department staff that was obtained by a media outlet. (The Hill)
  • President Donald Trump signed proclamations to allow targeted relief from the administration’s steel import quotas for South Korea and Brazil, and from quotas on both steel and aluminum for Argentina, according to the Commerce Department. (Reuters)

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National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration 8:30 a.m.
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CSR & Political Activism in the Trump Era

How to avoid a firestorm and improve your brand’s reputation.


Washington’s fall agenda: EPA to focus on new power plant, water rules
Miranda Green and Timothy Cama, The Hill

Federal officials will be hard at work throughout the fall, moving forward with high-profile actions to implement President Trump’s agenda to dismantle major environmental regulations, boost fossil fuel production and streamline protections for endangered species.

NASA administrator says he always thought humans caused climate change
Megan Keller, The Hill

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that he always believed humans caused climate change and that his remarks in a 2013 speech implying otherwise were misconstrued.

EPA watchdog to report on former chief Scott Pruitt’s use of round-the-clock security
Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner

The Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog said Wednesday it plans to release a report the day after Memorial Day on former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s use of an expensive round-the-clock security detail.

Pruitt aide wrote memo to absolve him in controversy over raises
Timothy Cama, The Hill

A top aide to former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt wrote a memo earlier this year that appeared to be aimed at absolving Pruitt of blame over a controversial raise given to the aide.

Oil rises on Iran sanctions, lower U.S. fuel inventories
Christopher Johnson, Reuters

Oil prices rose on Thursday, extending gains on growing evidence of disruptions to crude supply from Iran and Venezuela and after a fall in U.S. crude inventories.

Oil and Natural Gas

Mnuchin Is Ordered to Give Exxon More Russia Sanction Documents
Erik Larson, Bloomberg

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was ordered by a federal judge to give Exxon Mobil Corp. more privileged documents related to a $2 million fine assessed against the energy company for violating sanctions related to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

Drowning in Dirty Water, Permian Seeks $22 Billion Lifeline
David Wethe and Kevin Crowley, Bloomberg

With as many as four barrels of water produced for every barrel of oil, it’s a disposal nightmare that could add as much as $6 a barrel to company break-evens by 2025, according to a recent Wood Mackenzie study.

Utah biodiesel execs linked to polygamous group stay jailed
Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press

Two Salt Lake City biodiesel executives linked to a polygamous group will stay in jail after prosecutors argued they could flee to Turkey if released ahead of trial in an alleged $511 million tax credit scheme.

PDVSA signs $430 mil deal with seven companies in effort to boost crude production
Mery Mogollon, Platts

State-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA signed a $430 million service agreement with seven companies to boost its oil production by 641,000 b/d, company president Manuel Quevedo said in a statement Wednesday.

Fayette County loses another battle with natural gas industry
Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette-Mail

A West Virginia county, whose elected leaders have vocally resisted natural gas industry operations, has again been told by a federal judge that it must allow the work to proceed.

Iran Says It Will Block Middle East Oil Exports If It Can’t Ship
Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg

Iran will halt Middle East oil exports if it’s not allowed to ship its crude through the Strait of Hormuz, according to a top military official.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Ohio PUC details utility reform roadmap in PowerForward initiative
Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

The new roadmap, product of a year-long business model investigation, aims to create a level playing field for innovation on the utility distribution system.


Brown Holds Back On California Clean Energy Bill To Win Other Measures
Curt Barry, Inside EPA

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appears to be withholding his support for a landmark bill poised to reach his desk that would require 100 percent “zero-carbon” energy by 2045 in order to persuade state lawmakers to back his own priorities, including a measure to create an expanded Western electricity market.

China’s solar subsidy cuts erode the impact of Trump tariffs
Nichola Groom, Reuters

A move by China to slash subsidies for domestic solar installations has unleashed a flood of low-cost Chinese-made panels onto the global market – pushing down prices and eroding the impact of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff on solar equipment imports, according to industry officials.

GM’s Electric Dream in China Suddenly Looks Underpowered
Trefor Moss, The Wall Street Journal

General Motors Co.’s plans to ramp up electric-vehicle production in China were set back after the auto maker determined the Chinese-made batteries it intended to use failed to meet its own performance and safety standards during testing.


FirstEnergy Solutions closing its last Ohio and Pennsylvania coal-fired power plants
John Funk,

FirstEnergy Solutions tonight announced it plans to close its last Ohio coal-fired power plant, the W.H. Sammis plant on the Ohio River in Stratton, and its last Pennsylvania coal plant, the Bruce Mansfield plant on the River in Shippingport.


U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan: MOX decisions, misinformation prove worrisome
Colin Demarest, Aiken Standard

Duncan, a South Carolina Republican who at one point represented the Aiken area, said he “just recently” spoke with U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry about MOX for that reason.


Trump administration, California meet on vehicle emissions
Steve Holland et al., Reuters

Trump administration officials and California clean air regulators emerged from a meeting on Wednesday saying they would keep meeting to work toward resolving their sharp conflict over vehicle emissions and shared the goal of a single national standard.

California Car Emissions Rise as Trump’s Cuts to Standards Loom
Eric Roston, Bloomberg

A new report shows California is failing to cut greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles just as the Trump administration is poised to revoke the state’s right to regulate its tailpipes in pursuit of a single, national standard.

How Air in the Pacific Northwest Became Dirtier Than Beijing’s
Jim Carlton and Nour Malas, The Wall Street Journal

On a recent morning in this city bred on the great outdoors, the halls of Mt. Spokane High School were filled with some 600 football players throwing spirals, cross-country runners doing laps, and marching band members twirling batons.

Local climate efforts won’t be enough to undo Trump’s inaction, study says
Oliver Milman, The Guardian

Individual cities, regions and businesses across the globe are banding together determinedly to confront climate change – but their emissions reductions are relatively small and don’t fully compensate for a recalcitrant US under the Trump administration, a new study has found.

Algae Bloom in Lake Superior Raises Worries on Climate Change and Tourism
Christine Hauser, The New York Times

From the Gulf Coast to the northernmost shores of the United States, scientists and government officials are working to decipher algae blooms to help them interpret the causes of the blooms, changes to their climates, and the effects the blooms have on public health and regional environments.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Remember Katrina, and stay vigilant this storm season
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), The Times-Picayune

As we mark the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and remember the tragic losses and extreme damage our state suffered, it’s important to ensure we are all prepared for whatever this year’s hurricane season could bring.

There’s a better way to pay for California’s wildfire costs
The Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

A deal struck by a legislative committee as part of a wide-ranging wildfire prevention and response package late Tuesday will make no one truly happy — neither the utility companies that wanted more protection against liability for fire damage, nor the advocates who wanted ratepayers to have no financial exposure.

Trump’s EPA is selling out people of color
Denise Morrison, CNN

President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has abandoned environmental justice, which requires the fair treatment of all people, regardless of race or color, in the development and enforcement of environmental laws and regulation.

Can climate activists and the energy industry compromise?
Amy Myers Jaffe, Houston Chronicle

It’s hard to believe, but the debate in this country about energy and climate change is poised to become even more polarizing. As the U.S. midterm elections approach, battle lines are forming in key energy states that could significantly alter our energy future.

Research Reports

Improved fisheries management could offset many negative effects of climate change
Steven D. Gaines et al., Science Advances

The world’s oceans supply food and livelihood to billions of people, yet species’ shifting geographic ranges and changes in productivity arising from climate change are expected to profoundly affect these benefits. We ask how improvements in fishery management can offset the negative consequences of climate change; we find that the answer hinges on the current status of stocks.

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