Energy News for February 13, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on February 13, 2015


By Darius Dixon

With help from Elana Schor, Alex Guillén and Bob King

GOP GIVES KEYSTONE BILL A STAY OF EXECUTION: Apparently, the Senate bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline passed by the House this week doesn’t need to officially die before its supporters can begin sitting shiva. Republicans plan to wait until after next week’s recess to send the Keystone bill to the White House in order to maximize the public spotlight on the pipeline and its expected presidential veto, a GOP Hill source said yesterday. Keystone backers in both the House and the Senate lack the votes necessary for overriding President Barack Obama’s veto. Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plan to hold a formal signing ceremony for the pipeline bill today, but the official 10-day veto clock – which excludes Sundays – for Obama would not start until after the GOP sends the bill to the White House.

You can’t unsee this: Someone on the staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee crafted an argument in support of the Keystone pipeline with a series of animated GIFs…using images from the decade-long TV show “Friends.” I blame Netflix.

WH DAMPENS HOT AIR HOPES: Before the House packs up for the recess week, lawmakers today will take up the America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act, a bill that the Speaker’s office is advertising as a measure that would create 200,000 jobs by making certain tax breaks permanent. Meanwhile, some industry groups, like the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, saw a major opening: The bill is the first effort to strip tax language that specifically prevented small businesses from writing off air conditioning and heating units – language that, once removed, might incentivize more efficient technology. But the White House issued a veto threat against the bill earlier this week saying that while they support tax breaks for small business, the bill – without an offset – would increase the nation’s deficit by $79 billion over the next decade. The White House said it’d prefer to pay for similar tax breaks by closing loopholes. Democratic leadership in the House is also lobbying their members against the bill.

Logistics: The bill is set to get 90 minutes of debate this morning but the rule doesn’t entertain any amendments. According to the House Majority Leader’s office, the vote is slated to be done before lunchtime.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: You will have to go without your regular dose of Morning Energy on Monday due to Presidents’ Day. But, rest assured, we’ll be back in your inbox first thing Tuesday morning.

Congress, on the other hand, is out for the week. The Senate will return Monday, Feb. 23 while the House plans to reconvene the following day.

OIL TRAIN REGS ALTER COURSE: According to “three people familiar with the proposal,” reports Bloomberg, the Obama administration has “revised its proposal to prevent oil trains from catching fire in derailments, giving companies more time to upgrade their fleets but sticking with a requirement that new tank cars have thicker walls and better brakes.” Transportation Department sent its final rule to the Office of Management and Budget a little more than a week ago. Industry had complained that the previous two-year compliance period was too short. “The current proposal would require companies to first upgrade tank cars known as DOT-111s, which safety investigators have said are prone to puncture in rail accidents, according to one of the people.” Bloomberg:

CYBER-FRIDAY: The president went to California last night and is headed to Palo Alto today to give remarks at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University. But as Bloomberg has noted, some big tech titans are brushing off the forum: “The top executives of Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Facebook Inc. won’t attend President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity summit on Friday, at a time when relations between the White House and Silicon Valley have frayed over privacy issues.” ( ) After his remarks, Obama will host a roundtable with business leaders and then speak at a DNC event this evening.

NEW CONGRESS, SAME OL’ NOMS: Obama resubmitted his nominations for Jane Nishida and Ann Dunkin to the EPA last night. They were nominated last year to be the agency’s assistant administrators for international and tribal affairs and environmental information, respectively.

BURR TO RESURRECT CONSERVATION BILL : Sen. Richard Burr won more than 60 votes for his proposal to permanently authorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund during the chamber’s freewheeling Keystone XL debate last month, only to see his party’s leadership push three fellow Republicans into flipping their votes. The fear was that saddling the pipeline bill with the conservation provision might make some Republicans in the House sour on the measure when it came their way. But yesterday Burr said that he hasn’t given up on his bipartisan LWCF plan, telling ME to expect its return either “as an amendment to a vehicle that’s likely to find its way to the president’s desk” or as a separate measure. But is Burr preparing for another arm-twisting that would deny him his 60 votes? “I don’t think you’ll ever see that again,” he said.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS GO FOR BROKE: Climate change activists are kicking off Global Divestment Day tomorrow, which despite its name spans two days. They’re calling on universities and organizations to pull their money out fossil fuel businesses. And Bill McKibben, co-founder of the green group, could be found ginning things up on Twitter last night: “Global Divestment Day actions starting to happen across the planet – the world begins to shake free of fossil fuel $”

THE ONE DRUM TO RUIN IT ALL: It’s hard to believe that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been down for a year and apparently investigators now believe it was a single drum of radioactive waste that caused the infamous Feb. 14, 2014 leak. May container “LANL68660” always be forsaken in the annals of history. The facility is a couple years and millions of dollars away from reopening. WIPP’s update: The Associated Press has more:

NO REST FOR THE WEARY: While some of you might plan to put your feet up and narrate a book about the Civil War to an infant (me) or take a jaunt to Tampa (Morning Transpo’s Heather Caygle), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners is revving up its big winter conference this weekend. The general session doesn’t start until Monday but state regulators and other NARUCers can fill their entire day with conference activities on both Saturday and Sunday. ME always finds this conference informative on a wide range of energy issues faced by the states. The official kick-off on Monday includes speeches from NARUC president Lisa Edgar, former Sen. Evan Bayh and the president of Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission, Francisco Salazar. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur will all address the meeting at some point next week.

Some of the sessions on ME’s wish list: “What you need to know about FERC enforcement” with FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable et al., “The Evolving Grid” and “Implications of EPA’s Clean Power Plan proposal on Electric Grid Reliability.”

CALI TAKES GOLD ON SOLAR JOBS, BUT NEVADA BLINDS WITH GROWTH: California continues to lead the way in solar jobs, employing about 54,700 people in 2014, or almost a third of the 173,000 U.S. solar workers, according to a state-by-state breakdown released yesterday by the Solar Foundation. But Nevada also posted some impressive figures. Last year was the first time California has broken the 50,000 jobs mark, according to the group, but the Sagebrush State’s solar workforce grew by 146 percent during the same period, to 5,900. Closer to the Beltway, D.C. and Maryland rank highly for solar jobs per capita (seventh and 13th, respectively, at 900 jobs and 3,010 jobs), while Virginia, with 1,800 solar jobs, ranked 37th for jobs per capita. The foundation’ interactive map:


– Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s options fade as allies abandon him. Oregonian:

– Sen. Lisa Murkowski Immerses Herself in Beer Culture. Roll Call:

– How low oil prices could have adverse affect on big-time college athletic departments. Dallas Morning News:

– Georgia Power preparing to submit new cost estimate of nuclear reactors’ delay. Savannah Morning News:

– China wind power capacity jumps to record high. The Associated Press:

– Energy Sector Draws Investors in Distressed Securities. The Wall Street Journal:

– Today’s drought in the West is nothing compared to what may be coming. The Washington Post:

– Chicago joins growing list opposing Canadian nuclear waste dump. Macomb Daily:



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