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Morning Consult Energy: Perry Reportedly Making Preparations to Leave Trump Administration


Top Stories

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry is finalizing the timing and details of his departure from the Trump administration, including preparing Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette for the transition, according to two people familiar with the plan, while three sources said his exit is not imminent but that Perry has mulled leaving for weeks. Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry is not leaving any time soon and “is happy where he is.” (Bloomberg)
  • Interior Secretary David Bernhardt met in April 2018 with Marc Kasowitz, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump, whose law firm was working with the Schaghticoke tribal nation at the time in opposition to other tribes’ requests to operate a casino in Connecticut, according to agency documents. Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, is reportedly under investigation by a grand jury over his role in blocking tribes’ requests to run the casino. (The Guardian)
  • Kinder Morgan Inc. is holding internal talks over whether to build a third natural gas pipeline in the Permian Basin, Chief Executive Steven Kean said on an investor call, adding that the company expects that gas takeaway capacity could increase by 2 billion cubic feet per day every year for the next few years. The company’s Gulf Coast Express and Permian Highway pipelines are expected to come online in October 2019 and a year later, respectively. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

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
04/24/2019
Electric Power Conference and Exhibition
North American Carbon World
University of Chicago Panel on Lower Emissions, Competitive Prices: Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver?
Utility Energy Forum
The National Capital Area Chapter of the United States Association for Energy Economics Annual Spring Conference 8:00 am
POLITICO Event on Disaster Relief in an Era of Extreme Weather 8:00 am
SEIA Codes & Standards Symposium 8:30 am
U.S. Energy Association and SPE International joint briefing on energy sustainability: the pride of the oil and gas industry 11:30 am
04/25/2019
North American Carbon World
California Solar Power Expo
Utility Energy Forum
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

Imperial Irrigation District sues to block Colorado River drought plan
Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times

Just as a long-negotiated agreement for how California and six other Western states will deal with drought on the Colorado River was about to cross the finish line, the river’s biggest user put up a roadblock.

Colorado River’s biggest champion: Walmart heirs
Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E News

The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone.

Critics say new EPA rule could reintroduce asbestos use
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday a new rule they say will limit the use of asbestos in the U.S., but critics, including some of the agency’s own staff, describe it as a half measure that could reintroduce some asbestos products to the market.

Oil prices slip, but supply cuts support
Ahmad Ghaddar, Reuters

Oil prices eased on Thursday, although a decline in U.S. inventories, ongoing supply cuts from OPEC and its allies, and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran all limited losses.

Oil and Natural Gas

Kinder Morgan posts $556 million profit in first quarter amid higher natural gas volumes
Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle

Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan said it will increase its dividend after boosting profits by 15 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier.

U.S. Crude Oil and Fuel Inventories Decline
Dan Molinski, The Wall Street Journal

U.S. inventories of crude oil unexpectedly declined last week, while supplies of gasoline and other processed fuels also fell, according to data Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

LyondellBasell progresses on $2.4 billion petrochemical expansion
Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle

The Houston petrochemical company is pumping new life into the heart of the Bayport plant – which just marked its 50th anniversary this week – with a multimillion dollar expansion, part of a broader $2.4 billion project that is LyondellBasell’s biggest capital undertaking to date.

Fracking Giants May Offer Signs of Recovery During Earnings
David Wethe, Bloomberg

It’s been a tough few years for Schlumberger Ltd. and Halliburton Co., but the oilfield services giants may finally be on an upward curve, thanks to a recovery in international drilling activity and signs of something similar happening in the U.S.

U.S. shale producers see rising ultralight crude output hitting pricing
Jennifer Hiller, Reuters

Much of the new crude coming from the top U.S. shale field is so light that it is starting to affect pricing for the region’s oil, producers attending an energy conference this week said.

U.S. Natural Gas Prices Hit a 3-Year Low
By David Caleb Mutua, Bloomberg

Natural gas futures tumbled to the lowest in almost three years as U.S. shale output swamps the market amid mild spring weather, soothing concern about a potential supply crunch next winter.

Michigan governor open to allowing Great Lakes oil tunnel
John Flesher and David Eggert, The Associated Press

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that she’s open to allowing construction of an oil transport tunnel beneath the channel where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet, despite previously halting work on a tunnel plan developed by her predecessor.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Santee Cooper to pay $20K for help combating ‘rampant misinformation’ about sale
Avery G. Wilks, The State

Santee Cooper plans to pay a public relations consultant about $20,000 over the next two months to help the state-owned utility combat the “rampant misinformation” it says is being spread online to build support for its sale.

Renewables

Shared electric scooters surge, overtaking docked bikes
Cathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press

Riders took 38.5 million trips on shared electric scooters in 2018, eclipsing the 36.5 million trips on shared, docked bicycles, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Report: Going 100% renewable power means a lot of dirty mining
Naveena Sadasivam, Grist

The list of metals used in the production of renewable energy is long. It includes the well-known — copper, silver and aluminum — as well as rare earths such as neodymium and dysprosium, used to make magnets for wind turbines. Mining for these metals is currently concentrated in just a handful of countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Chile, and India, among them.

Coal

TVA’s own tests revealed radium, heavy metals in coal ash before 2008 spill
Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s own testing – in 1981 and 1995 – revealed its coal ash contained radioactive materials and toxic heavy metals, a USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee investigation shows. For more than two decades following that testing, TVA didn’t tell plant workers and contract laborers about those radioactive materials and toxic heavy metals, the ongoing investigation shows.

Nuclear

U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Weren’t Built for Climate Change
Christopher Flavelle and Jeremy C.F. Lin, Bloomberg Businessweek

In 2011, after an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi power plant, Gregory Jaczko, then the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, had to worry about two things: whether radioactive fallout would harm the U.S. and whether a similar accident could befall an American plant. The answer to the first question turned out to be no. The second question preoccupies him still.

In a Time of Cheap Fossil Fuels, Nuclear Power Companies Are Seeking — and Getting — Big Subsidies
Talia Buford, ProPublica

On Thursday, regulators in New Jersey are scheduled to decide whether PSEG has shown that it needs the subsidies, which would be paid for through a surcharge on all customer bills in the state.

Climate

Europe Sets CO2 Caps for Trucks in Challenge to Daimler, Volvo
Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg

The European Parliament voted to fix a 30 percent CO2-reduction target for 2030 compared with 2019 levels. The legislation approved by the EU assembly on Thursday in Strasbourg, France, also sets an interim emissions cut of 15 percent for 2025.

Climate Change: New York City Buildings to Face Greenhouse Gas Limits
William Newman, The New York Times

New York City is about to embark on an ambitious plan to fight climate change that would force thousands of large buildings, like the Empire State Building and Trump Tower, to sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Tesla’s First Impact Report Puts Hard Number on CO2 Emissions
Emily Chasan, Bloomberg

Tesla Inc. released its first-ever environmental impact report on Tuesday afternoon, joining the 80 percent of S&P 500 companies who produce glossy-looking and sunny testaments to their own corporate sustainability record.

Satellite confirms key NASA temperature data: The planet is warming — and fast
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

A high-profile NASA temperature data set, which has pronounced the last five years the hottest on record and the globe a full degree Celsius warmer than in the late 1800s, has found new backing from independent satellite records — suggesting the findings are on a sound footing, scientists reported Tuesday.

Democrats Are United on Climate Change, but Not on What to Do About It
Lisa Friedman and Maggie Astor, The New York Times

Among the 18 declared candidates, there is no broad consensus on taxing polluters on their carbon emissions — a measure most experts say is needed to slow global warming. And when it comes to building new nuclear power plants or adding federal regulations, there is even less agreement.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Competition Puts Consumers in Driver’s Seat in Race to Modernize Electricity
Robert Dillon, Morning Consult

Competitive markets produce the most efficient results in our economy, providing lower costs and a greater array of choices for consumers than government regulators. That was true in the 1980s with the deregulation of the telecom and natural gas sectors, and it’s still true today for electricity markets.

Another Carbon Tax Defeat
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

A provincial election in Canada isn’t usually big news, but Tuesday’s victory by the conservatives in the western province of Alberta is an exception. Voters elected as premier Jason Kenney, who had promised that his government’s first act would be to repeal the carbon tax imposed by incumbent Rachel Notley.

Flight attendants know the real job killer isn’t the Green New Deal. It’s climate change.
Sara Nelson, Vox

In my 23 years as a flight attendant and president of our union representing 50,000 others, I know firsthand the threat climate change poses to our safety and our jobs. But flight attendants and airline workers have been told by some pundits that the Green New Deal, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s environmental proposal, will ground all air travel. That’s absurd.

My husband, Carlos Ghosn, is innocent of it all
Carole Ghosn, The Washington Post

Shortly before dawn on April 4, my husband, Carlos Ghosn, and I were awakened in our Tokyo apartment by a hard knock on the door. More than a dozen Japanese prosecutors stood waiting on the other side. Then they stormed in.

Research Reports

Recent global warming as confirmed by AIRS
J. Susskind et al., Environmental Research Letters

We show in this paper that satellite-based surface temperatures can serve as an important validation of surface-based estimates and help to improve surface-based data sets in a way that can be extended back many decades to further scientific research.