Energy

Essential energy industry news & intel to start your day.
April 14, 2021
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Most Voters Consider Highways, Roads, Transportation ‘Infrastructure’: According to new reporting from my colleague Claire Williams, nearly 3 in 5 voters continue to back President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan. And when given a host of items and asked whether they would consider them “infrastructure,” most voters seemed to buy into the expanded notion of “infrastructure” that has come with the plan, even as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has panned it as “Orwellian.” Highways, roads and streets (85 percent) and methods of transportation (77 percent) were most widely considered to be infrastructure, while child care and paid leave were least likely to be regarded as such, at 53 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

 

Top Stories

  • Texas confronted another power scare last night as a consequence of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ taking down a number of the state’s generators for repairs just as an anticipated cold front stalled, upping electricity demand. ERCOT had to appeal for energy conservation for nearly four hours yesterday, an effort that averted disaster without necessitating emergency measures. (The Texas Tribune)
  • President Joe Biden has tapped Tommy Beaudreau as deputy secretary of the Interior Department after deciding not to proceed with potential nominee Elizabeth Klein amid concerns from centrist senators, according to sources familiar with internal decisionmaking. Beaudreau is an energy lawyer and former director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. (E&E News)
  • The Biden administration’s plan to shore up the security of the power grid is set to provide electricity companies with incentives to install new cybersecurity monitoring equipment, ask them to identify critical sites and expand an Energy Department program to identify potential vulnerabilities, according to a draft version confirmed by two people. A final version of the plan, which will involve an initial 100-day sprint but also lay out a yearslong transformation of grid security, could be released as soon as this week, according to a person familiar with the timing. (Bloomberg)
  • Chevron Corp. has signed a deal with Norway’s Moreld Ocean Wind to develop offshore wind energy technology by jointly investing in the floating turbine technology of the Oakland-based Ocergy Inc. This makes Chevron the first major U.S. oil company to invest in offshore wind, according to a senior analyst at energy research firm Wood Mackenzie, and a step that many of its European competitors have already taken. (Forbes)
 

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

 

What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Biden’s climate envoy Kerry to hold talks with China, South Korea

Jeff Mason and Valerie Volcovici, Reuters

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry will travel to China this week to discuss international efforts to tackle global warming, seeking to press his counterparts to make ambitious emissions reduction targets despite tension in the U.S.-China relationship.

 

EPA Move to Scrap Trump Cost-Benefit Rule Under Final Review

Jennifer Hijazi, Bloomberg Law

The EPA is moving to trash a Trump-era mandate that hems cost-benefit analysis in Clean Air Act rulemaking.

 

White House says gas tax won’t be part of infrastructure bill

Alex Gangitano, The Hill

The White House said on Tuesday that raising the federal gasoline tax is not being considered as part of President Biden’s infrastructure package.

 

Michigan reps reintroduce measure for national ‘forever chemicals’ standard

Zack Budryk, The Hill

Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) have reintroduced legislation targeting so-called forever chemicals that previously passed the House, expressing optimism that the Democratic Senate is more likely to pass the measure.

 
Climate Change and Emissions
 

US now ‘halfway to zero’ on electricity-sector carbon emissions

Jeff St. John, Canary Media

An LBNL report highlights the technology and economic changes that broke through pessimistic forecasts — and the challenges of cutting the rest of the power sector’s carbon footprint.

 

Biden Wants Leaders to Make Climate Commitments for Earth Day

Lisa Friedman, The New York Times

The administration is closing in on deals with some close allies, but agreements with powers like China, Brazil and India are proving difficult.

 

Cutting emissions 50% would put U.S. Paris target on par with EU: report

Valerie Volcovici, Reuters

If the United States sets a target to slash its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, as it is under pressure to do, its goal would be among the most ambitious commitments under the Paris climate agreement – and comparable to the EU’s, according to a new analysis.

 

US climate research outpost abandoned over fears it will fall into sea

Oliver Milman, The Guardian

Twice a day for the past half a century, a weather balloon to measure atmospheric conditions was released from a research station situated on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Faced with advancing seas that are set to devour it, the outpost has now been abandoned.

 
Renewables and Storage
 

Biden budget, infrastructure plan would create standalone storage tax credit

Jason Plautz, Utility Dive

President Joe Biden’s $1.52 trillion budget request for Fiscal Year 2022 includes a policy making standalone energy storage projects eligible for the federal investment tax credit (ITC), a move that advocates say will unleash new capital for renewable energy. The budget request also included new spending on storage as part of the administration’s goal to decarbonize the energy sector by 2035. 

 
Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels
 

Oil Demand Is Recovering Despite Vaccination Hiccups, IEA Says

David Hodari, The Wall Street Journal

A year after the pandemic and a price war sparked one of the weakest months in history for oil prices, the global energy market is well on its way to recovery, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

 

Big Oil’s Influence Shrinks as Tax Perks Face Axe in Biden Plan

Jinjoo Lee, The Wall Street Journal

It doesn’t take long before a typical conversation with a U.S. energy executive turns to subsidies—those enjoyed by others. The fossil-fuel industry often brings up green energy’s explicit tax incentives, while the latter will point to the longevity of special tax preferences for oil and gas.

 

Ambitious plan to ban California fracking falls short in Legislature

Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times

A far-reaching proposal to outlaw hydraulic fracturing and ban oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools and healthcare facilities failed in the California Legislature on Tuesday, a major setback for progressive leaders who hail the state as the nation’s bellwether on environmental protection.

 

Appeals court backs drilling protections reinstated by Biden

Zack Budryk, The Hill

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday affirmed an earlier decision upholding Obama-era standards for Arctic Ocean and Atlantic Ocean protections.

 

Nearly 400 state and local officials call for ban on new fracking permits

Zack Budryk, The Hill

Nearly 400 state and local elected officials from across the country signed a letter calling for an outright ban on new federal permits for fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure after the Biden administration imposed a temporary moratorium on such permitting on federal lands.

 

Tensions emerge between green groups and Biden over Dakota Access Pipeline

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

The Biden administration is drawing public criticism from environmental groups after the Justice Department last week declined to temporarily shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline as the project undergoes regulatory reviews.

 
Transportation
 

Quantum Leap

Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg

QuantumScape says its technology is ready to move from the lab to VW’s dealerships. But this secretive startup is very familiar with failure.

 

Car Industry May Need Deals With Chipmakers to Counter Shortage

Elisabeth Behrmann, Bloomberg

Automakers should consider strategic partnerships with chipmakers to improve how they source semiconductors as their use in cars balloons, Roland Berger said.

 
Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure
 

‘It’s a historic moment’ — Pete Buttigieg on EV chargers, lead pipes, and the promise of infrastructure

Emily Pontecorvo, Grist

Pete Buttigieg has become the de facto hype man for Joe Biden’s newly released $2 trillion infrastructure plan. A great deal of the proposed spending — for road and bridge repairs, rail service expansions, public transit investments, electric vehicle charging stations — falls into the former South Bend mayor’s new domain now that he’s secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

 

Bitcoin Power Consumption Jumped 66-Fold Since 2015, Citi Says

Josh Saul, Bloomberg

Bitcoin mining is consuming 66 times more electricity than it did back in late 2015, and the carbon emissions associated with it will likely face increasing scrutiny, according to a Citigroup Inc. report.

 

FERC Commissioner Christie on his ‘across the board’ respect for state authority

Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Mark Christie, a former Virginia state regulator, joined the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at a critical moment for its relationship with states.

 
Environment, Land and Resources
 

Florida Plans to Close Wastewater Reservoir Where Leak Forced Evacuations

Azi Paybarah, The New York Times

A potential deluge of millions of gallons of water from a former phosphate mine had threatened homes south of Tampa.

 

Living near a US toxic waste site could shave a year off your life, study finds

Paola Rosa-Aquino, The Guardian

Superfund sites are scattered across America: they’re places like landfills and manufacturing plants so contaminated with hazardous waste that the federal government has designated them a national priority to clean up. And according to a new, large-scale study, living near one can shave months – and in some cases, more than a year – off how long you live.

 

A poultry plant, years of groundwater contamination and, finally, a court settlement

Darryl Fears, The Washington Post

Residents in Millsboro, Del., sued the local Montaire facility, which they suspect is linked to their cancers and other serious health problems.

 
Coal/Nuclear
 

Closing all of Xcel’s coal-fired power plants will cost Colorado consumers $1.4 billion

Mark Jafffe, The Colorado Sun

Shuttering plants to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emissions goals carries a hefty price tag, including costs of bonds to finance the wind down

 

4 states weigh plans to rescue coal plants

Miranda Wilson, E&E News

Four states are weighing plans to stall the retirement of coal-fired power plants, a sign of growing resistance in conservative, energy-producing regions against national efforts to decarbonize the grid and a reaction to the Texas blackouts, analysts say.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

We Are Living in a Climate Emergency, and We’re Going to Say So

Mark Fischetti, Scientific American

It’s time to use a term that more than 13,000 scientists agree is needed.

 






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