Energy

Essential energy industry news & intel to start your day.
April 28, 2021
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Nearly 2 in 3 Voters in Biden’s Corner on Emissions Cuts

Two polls released this week found that voters are broadly in support of President Joe Biden’s recent overtures on climate action, including the pledge to at least halve emissions by the end of the decade. 

 

The first Morning Consult poll found that nearly two-thirds of voters say they support the 2030 emissions cut target, including 85 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans. And the second, conducted by both Morning Consult and Politico, found that a plurality of voters (42 percent) say the target displays a “just right” level of ambition, while 30 percent say it is too ambitious and 11 percent said it is not ambitious enough. For more on these, and several other related questions, read on here

 

Top Stories

  • The Senate is set to vote later today on whether to use the Congressional Review Act to roll back a rule that the Trump administration put in place last summer, which relaxed stricter Obama-era regulations limiting methane releases. If the CRA — which allows Congress to overturn rules passed in the final days of a previous administration via a simple majority vote in both chambers — garners 50 votes in the Senate today, the 2016 methane rule would almost certainly be reinstated, requiring industry to monitor, plug and capture methane leaks from oil and gas wells. (The New York Times)
  • New programs from the Department of Energy will provide upwards of $8 billion to finance high-voltage transmission lines, martialing its loan program to pay for the investments and encouraging applications for loan guarantees of up to $5 billion, the White House said. And the Biden administration said it is also releasing new guidance on how states should remove obstacles along highways and railroads to facilitate the construction of power lines. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • In a Supreme Court hearing Tuesday over whether small oil refineries should be entitled to extend waivers allowing them to skip blending gasoline and diesel with biofuels, the justices expressed skepticism of the fuel-makers’ interpretation of the Renewable Fuel Standard that the “economic hardship” waivers in question can be used “at any time.” If the lower court’s decision is affirmed, the waivers — to the tune of up to hundreds of millions of dollars annually — would be reserved only for the handful of refineries that have received regular extensions of their initial exemptions. (Bloomberg
  • If methane emissions are halved by 2030, the creeping increase in the Earth’s temperature could be slowed by up to 30 percent, per new research published by Environmental Research Letters. This push would be possible using existing technology, said study author Ilissa Ocko, and “could have tangible benefits during our lifetime.” (The Washington Post)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

EPA to send staff to U.S. Virgin Islands following refinery incidents

Laura Sanicola, Reuters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to send experts and staff to a recently reopened U.S. Caribbean refinery as soon as this week to conduct an investigation, the agency said in a Tuesday statement after some residents said an odor coming from the refinery caused them to feel ill.

 

Senate confirms Janet McCabe as deputy EPA chief

Zack Budryk, The Hill

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Janet McCabe as the No. 2 official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

Barrasso calls for investigation into Granholm ties to electric vehicle company

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is calling for an investigation into Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm over her connections with a company that makes electric buses, batteries and chargers. 

 

Kerry denies allegations from leaked Iran tapes

Mychael Schnell, The Hill

John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, is denying allegations that he discussed Israeli military operations with Iran’s foreign minister when he served as secretary of State under then-President Obama, calling the claims “unequivocally false.”

 
Climate Change and Emissions
 

Banks Produce 700 Times More Emissions From Loans Than Offices

Alastair Marsh, Bloomberg

It’s through their loan books and investment portfolios that banks and asset managers make their biggest contribution to climate change.

 

Trudeau Hits Back Against Criticism of Canada as Climate Laggard

Kait Bolongaro and Danielle Bochove, Bloomberg

Justin Trudeau defended Canada’s climate record against criticism its emissions targets aren’t ambitious enough, arguing his government’s carbon tax represents a more concrete plan.

 

Financial firms should disclose emissions from activities they fund, group says

Simon Jessop and Ross Kerber, Reuters
The world’s banks, asset managers and insurers should provide more information to investors about the greenhouse gas emissions from the activities they finance, a group that tracks emissions data said on Wednesday.

 

US seeks to lead on climate while finalizing details on plan

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

The Biden administration is expected to lay out more details for a domestic road map for how to achieve its climate goals and put more pressure on foreign countries to increase their own commitments in the coming months.

 

Manchin rips big banks for net-zero carbon goals

Sylvan Lane, The Hill

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) criticized major U.S. banks for setting goals to zero-out their carbon emissions within decades, arguing that they should take “a more realistic approach” to fighting climate change.

 

America is making climate promises again. Should anyone care?

David Roberts, Vox

Policy, not aspirations, will determine Biden’s legacy on climate change.

 
Renewables and Storage
 

Musk touts Tesla’s move to only sell home solar and storage together, admits mistakes with solar roof

Jason Plautz, Utility Dive

Tesla deployed 445 MWh of battery storage in the first quarter of 2021 as demand for the company’s Powerwall battery unit outstripped its production rate, company executives said on Monday’s Q1 earnings call. The deployment total represented a 71% increase compared to Q1 of the previous year, although storage was down over the previous two quarters.

 

QuantumScape Defends Its Battery Breakthrough Against the Short Sellers
Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg

CEO Jagdeep Singh stands by the early-stage technology that promises to extend EVs’ range while reducing charge time.

 

A major new facility in Oregon could help transform the prospects of wave energy

Anmar Frangoul, CNBC

In the years ahead, marine-based sources of energy could have an important role to play both in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

 
Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels
 

Chesapeake Searches for Next CEO After Lawler’s Abrupt Exit

Sergio Chapa and Simon Casey, Bloomberg

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is searching for its next chief executive officer after the sudden departure of Doug Lawler less than three months on from the company’s exit from bankruptcy and as speculation continues to swirl about consolidation in the U.S. shale industry.

 

Aramco Weighs Sale of Stake in Natural Gas Pipelines

Dinesh Nair et al., Bloomberg

Aramco is considering the sale of a stake in its vast natural gas pipeline network to help free up cash and draw more international investors to Saudi Arabia, people familiar with the matter said.

 

Judge gives Corps 2nd chance to offer oil pipeline opinion

Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press

A federal judge faced with a motion on whether the Dakota Access oil pipeline north of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation should be shut down during an environmental review is giving the Biden administration another chance to weigh in on the issue.

 
Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure
 

Are market constraints hampering the evolution of ‘last-mile’ grid resources?

Jason Deign, Canary Media

Future grids will need assets on standby for times when there isn’t enough wind and solar. But how will these assets be valued and compensated?

 
Environment, Land and Resources
 

Interior, Haaland reverses Trump effort on tribal land

Zack Budryk, The Hill

The Interior Department will roll back several Trump-era steps that complicated the process by which Native American tribes can place land into trust, the department announced Tuesday morning.

 

California is primed for a severe fire season, but just how bad is anybody’s guess

Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times

At this point, it seems like almost a given that California will see another historic fire season. A meager rainy season is in the rearview mirror. Snowpack is depleted. Vegetation and soils are parched.

 
Coal/Nuclear
 

An Ohio Town Grapples With Tearing Down a Plant From the Cold War

Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal

The Department of Energy faces backlash from residents and mounting costs as it seeks to disassemble nuclear-weapons infrastructure in the U.S.

 

FirstEnergy Seeking Deal with DOJ in Bribery Case

John Funk, RTO Insider

FirstEnergy has disclosed it is negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding its role in a $60 million bribery and racketeering scheme.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

Our Clean Energy Future Depends on Copper

Laura Skaer (Board-member, Women’s Mining Coalition), Morning Consult

While the American Jobs Plan dominates the headlines, many in Washington, D.C. are failing to acknowledge how much our future competitiveness in clean energy and infrastructure depends on having a robust supply of metals and critical minerals.

 

This might be the Senate’s most important climate vote ever

The Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The Senate votes Wednesday on what sounds like an arcane regulatory question. In fact, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) argued Tuesday, “This is the most important climate vote that the Senate has had, maybe ever.”

 

The Planet on the Plate: Why Epicurious Left Beef Behind

David Tamarkin and Maggie Hoffman, Epicurious

In an effort to encourage more sustainable cooking, we won’t be publishing new beef recipes on Epicurious.

 

Mobilize the Market to Fight Global Warming

Michael R. Bloomberg and David M. Solomon, Bloomberg

Growing economies and protecting the climate go hand in hand.

 






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