Morning Consult Energy: EPA, Interior Expected to Issue Rules Easing Methane Restrictions


Top Stories

  • The Environmental Protection Agency intends to release as soon as this week a proposed replacement of an Obama-era rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and fix leaks of climate-warming methane gas, according to documents reviewed by a news outlet, which indicate the new rule would in part reduce the frequency of required equipment inspections. The Interior Department is also soon expected to issue a final rule that essentially repeals the previous administration’s restrictions on the intentional venting and flaring of methane. (The New York Times)
  • As a lawyer, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler represented meat processor Darling Ingredients Inc. and chemical firm Celanese Corp., which are disputing their responsibilities under a $1.4 billion cleanup effort of the Diamond Alkali Superfund site in Newark’s waterways, according to financial reports and lobbying disclosures. Wheeler has recused himself from weighing in on this and other Superfund sites, but site watchers worry he may choose to go easy on his former clients or on additional companies potentially responsible for the contamination. (E&E News)
  • A lawyer for the Port of Corpus Christi, an important oil export seaport in Texas, asked federal officials in letters last month to delay Texas Gulf Terminals Inc.’s application to build its own export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico until more information is disclosed on its affiliation with its owner, Trafigura Group Pte Ltd., which in 2006 pleaded guilty to selling oil it falsely said was from the former U.N. Oil-for-Food program. If the new terminal is built, the Port of Corpus Christi stands to lose 12 percent of its operating revenue, according to an analyst. (Financial Times)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
Greentech Media Forum on Blockchain in Energy 8 a.m.
Platts Annual NGLs Conference 8 a.m.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions mayors and business forum on greenhouse gas emissions reduction 9:30 a.m.
Atlantic Council conversation on the European gas supply 11 a.m.
Defenders of Wildlife panel on large-scale renewable energy development 12 p.m.
Air Sensors International Conference 4 p.m.
Department of Energy National Cleanup Workshop 4 p.m.
Wilson Center panel on global climate policy 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Air Sensors International Conference 7 a.m.
Department of Energy National Cleanup Workshop 7 a.m.
Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Conference and Expo 8 a.m.
Platts Annual NGLs Conference 8 a.m.
Global Climate Action Summit 9 a.m.
National Coal Council Fall Annual Meeting 10:30 a.m.
Atlantic Council discussion on local climate action in California 3 p.m.
Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment event on women in the energy sector 6 p.m.
Thursday
Department of Energy National Cleanup Workshop 7 a.m.
National Coal Council Fall Annual Meeting 7 a.m.
Air Sensors International Conference 8 a.m.
Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Conference and Expo 8 a.m.
Global Climate Action Summit 9 a.m.
Environmental Business Council New England update from EPA Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn 9:15 a.m.
House Science, Space and Technology Oversight and Environment Joint Subcommittee hearing on glider trucks 10 a.m.
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on innovation in transportation 10 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the role of U.S. LNG to meet European demand 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on advanced nuclear reactors 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee hearing on wildfires’ impact on air quality 1 p.m.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions session on carbon neutrality 3 p.m.
Northeast Energy and Commerce Association dinner meeting legislative update 4 p.m.
Women’s Energy Network launch event 6 p.m.
Friday
Air Sensors International Conference 8 a.m.
Mid-Atlantic Bioenergy Conference and Expo 8 a.m.
Global Climate Action Summit 9 a.m.
American Bar Association webinar on Judge Brett Kavanaugh and recent energy and environment cases 12 p.m.

New Poll: Consumers React to Nike’s New Ad Featuring Colin Kaepernick

Real-time brand tracking data reveals a sharp drop in favorability and purchasing consideration.

General

Official defends Trump plan to revamp Endangered Species Act
Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

A top Trump administration official on Monday defended a plan to revamp the Endangered Species Act, saying the proposed changes would result in more effective, quicker decisions on species protection.

Moniz group launches ‘substantial’ CO2 air capture project
Christa Marshall, E&E News

The Energy Futures Initiative’s air-capture project aims to bring new focus and dollars to an idea that proponents say is necessary to hit long-term climate targets. Supporters say carbon-removal strategies are an important step toward decarbonizing the energy sector by the end of the century.

Hurricane Risks Include Toxic Sludge and Lagoons of Pig Manure
Jim Efstathiou Jr. et al., Bloomberg

Hurricane Florence’s potential for destruction also includes increased risks for the environment and public health as torrential rains could overwhelm the pits where toxic waste from power plants is stored. Animal-manure lagoons are also at risk of flooding.

Oil rises as U.S. sanctions on Iran squeeze supply
Christopher Johnson, Reuters

Oil prices rose on Tuesday as U.S. sanctions squeezed Iranian crude exports, tightening global supply despite efforts by Washington to get other producers to increase output.

Oil and Natural Gas

SandRidge Energy rejects takeover bids, saying they undervalue company
Saumya Sibi Joseph, Reuters

U.S. shale oil producer SandRidge Energy Inc said on Monday it had ended its strategic review and rejected all bids, saying they undervalued the company.

State and ExxonMobil reach agreement on preliminary gas line sales
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News

ExxonMobil has agreed in a preliminary deal signed Monday to sell its natural gas to the $43 billion Alaska LNG project, an important step as the state works to line up Asian utilities and other potential gas buyers.

Need a Cave to Stash Your Oil? Feds Might Soon Have a Deal for You
Jeremy Dillon, Roll Call

A bill that would allow the federal government to rent out space in the caves holding the nation’s emergency oil stockpile moved out of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee last week with bipartisan support.

Alaska producers finding profitable ways to unlock ‘viscous’ oil in North Slope
Tim Bradner, Platts

Alaska producers are cracking the code in tapping thick “viscous” oil on the North Slope, in an attempt to unlock a portion of the 5.5 billion to 7.5 billion barrels of reserves in place estimated by state geologists.

Debate Heats Up Over When Era of Oil Will End
Sarah Kent, The Wall Street Journal

The Era of Oil is coming to a close but experts and corporate analysts disagree about just when that will happen.

Utilities and Infrastructure

To prevent wildfires, Edison seeks $582 million from ratepayers for a sweeping grid overhaul
Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

In a sweeping effort to reduce the wildfire risk from electric power lines, Southern California Edison said Monday it wants to spend $582 million for a series of improvements to its grid that likely would mean higher bills for ratepayers.

Perceiving Lack of Support, NJ Seeking Bigger Voice at PJM
Rory D. Sweeney, RTO Insider

Joe Fiordaliso, president of New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities, is not alone in his concerns about the state’s perceived lack of influence at PJM.

FERC schedule slips for Transco project as NY primary politics complicate path for gas
Maya Weber, Platts

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has pushed back the timeline for completing its environmental review of Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project to January 25, 2019, from September 17, 2018.

Renewables

Developers see value in California offshore wind development
Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

State mandates and contractual commitments promise to make offshore wind a key part of the East Coast power mix by the mid-2020s. But offshore wind is not limited to the east.

California Smart-Grid Designer Raises $32 Million in Financing
Mark Chediak, Bloomberg

AutoGrid Systems Inc., a California company developing software to manage power on the grid, said it closed a $32 million round of financing as it expands in North America, Asia and Europe.

Wind energy reaching turning point as turbines age
L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle

The North American wind industry will reach a turning point in three years when the industry begins to spend more on operations and maintenance than it spends on installing new wind turbines.

Coal

States like Wyoming still rely heavily on coal, but gas generation is gaining
Heather Richards, Casper Star Tribune

Eighteen states including Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado obtained the majority of their electricity from coal power last year. That number is down from 28 states with majority coal-powered electricity 10 years ago, according to the Energy Information Administration, an independent federal agency that tracks and forecasts energy data.

Nuclear

Bipartisan senators seek to revive nuclear energy investment
Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced a nuclear energy bill with a group of bipartisan senators Thursday, seeking more action from the Department of Energy (DOE) in support of advanced nuclear energy goals.

Budget chief Mick Mulvaney critical of MOX during White House conference
Colin Demarest, Aiken Standard

A South Carolina political veteran now in charge of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget expressed his distaste for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility project during a White House conference last week, according to multiple people at the get-together.

IAEA: ‪Global Nuclear Power Industry Is ‘Struggling’
Sonal Patel, POWER Magazine

Nuclear power’s share of the world’s power generating mix could shrink dramatically from 10% in 2017 to just 5.6% in 2050 as the industry struggles with “reduced competitiveness,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggested in a new report.

Climate

U.N. Chief Warns of a Dangerous Tipping Point on Climate Change
Somini Sengupta, The New York Times

Warning of the risks of “runaway” global warming, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Monday called on global leaders to rein in climate change faster.

Janet Yellen calls for US carbon tax
Ed Crooks, Financial Times

Ms Yellen, who chaired the US Federal Reserve until February, has joined the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan group pushing for the US to address the threat of global warming by introducing a carbon tax, with revenues returned to the public in dividend payments.

Wealthy Countries Accused of Trying to Weaken Paris Climate Finance Rules
Sabrina Shankman, InsideClimate News

The Paris climate agreement was just the first step. Now the rulebook for how to carry out the accord is being written, and there are growing complaints that the United States and other wealthy countries are trying to manipulate the rules to protect polluters and weaken their own commitments.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

A Gas Tax Economics Lesson
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

The Tax Foundation ranks New Jersey as the third most taxed state in America, after New York and Connecticut. But a silver lining used to be the Garden State’s relatively low gasoline tax of 14.5 cents a gallon—second lowest in the U.S. No more, and therein lies a tale of why taxing the rich to finance government is an illusion.

Every State Will Win in the Race to Build Offshore Wind
Alicia Barton and Joseph Fiordaliso, Greentech Media

For far too long, offshore wind was a promising concept rather than an actual industry in this country. But today, states up and down the east coast and private industry are making substantial commitments to this new, clean energy resource — and for good reason.

When bad weather has struck, natural gas has been completely reliable
Dave McCurdy et al., Washington Examiner

Last year, the United States experienced a series of catastrophic weather events that challenged the durability and resilience of regional power grids. These put to the test the different energy sources we rely on to power American homes and businesses.

Research Reports

Climate Opportunity: More Jobs; Better Health; Liveable Cities
New Climate Institute et al.

Climate policies on building retrofits, bus networks and district energy and cooling can generate millions of jobs, save households billions of dollars, and prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths related to urban pollution all over the world.