Energy News for February 9, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on February 9, 2015


Politco Morning Energy for 2/9/2015: 


DRIVING THE WEEK — FIRST, KEYSTONE XL: The House is slated to vote on the Senate’s Keystone XL bill later this week, setting up President Barack Obama to issue his third-ever veto. The pipeline’s application is now at Secretary of State John Kerry’s desk, but the administration won’t give a timeline on making a decision, leaving the issue an ongoing source of tension with Republicans. The GOP likely will try again in the coming months to get Keystone approved, possibly via must-pass legislation like an appropriations package. The House is scheduled to vote on the Keystone bill on Wednesday; assuming it passes, it is unclear how quickly President Barack Obama will carry out his veto threat, but it could mean a not-so-happy Valentine’s Day for the project’s supporters.

Then, next steps: House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans plan to issue an outline this week on a broad energy strategy that includes updating infrastructure and policies to reflect the booming U.S. production. The move appears to run parallel to an early strategy that Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski is developing and may represent a serious bicameral effort to craft the most expansive update for energy policy since at least 2007. Darren Goode has more for Pros:

GOP HOLDS FIRE ON EPA CLIMATE RULE: Republicans’ aggressive energy agenda has so far conspicuously sidestepped one of their biggest campaign-trail targets: the climate change rules from President Barack Obama’s EPA. The House GOP plans to steer clear of a showdown over the greenhouse gas rules in its energy package coming out this week, raising questions about whether Republicans are grasping for a workable plan to stop the carbon dioxide regulations that EPA will issue later this year. Elana Schor has more:

DOE TOUTS LOAN PROGRAM’S ROLE IN LAUNCHING UTILITY PV SECTOR: The Obama administration is touting its “instrumental” role in creating the expanding the utility-scale photovoltaic solar sector, noting in a report out today that more than $4.6 billion in DOE loan guarantees supported the first five PV installations bigger than 100 megawatts in the U.S. Analysts have long credited DOE’s loan program with helping get solar PV up and running, and now DOE directly states that those loan guarantees “helped transform U.S. energy production and paved the way for the fastest growing sector of the solar industry.” The five big projects backed by a DOE loan guarantee totaled 1,500 megawatts, and DOE notes that since those solar farms moved forward, another 17 100-megawatt-plus projects have been financed without DOE support. DOE’s report also notes growth was also driven in part by the eight-year extension of the investment tax credit in 2008. Read:

What the report is really saying: DOE’s loan guarantee portfolio is forever tied to the handful of failures, most notably Solyndra. But overall the loan guarantee program was successful, DOE argues, including by helping launch a new sector of solar power and then letting the private sector take over. “The history of utility-scale PV solar in the U.S. shows how LPO can launch a new market, work with lenders to understand and expand the market, and then step aside to let the private markets take over,” the report says.

GROUPS ATTACK CSAPR IN CIRCUIT COURT: The Supreme Court may have upheld EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule last year, but that’s not stopping the rule’s opponents from trying again to get the pollution regulation tossed. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is handling several issues remaining after the high court’s ruling, including whether EPA is guilty of “overcontrol” because CSAPR requires upwind states to cut emissions by more than is required for downwind states to attain air quality standards. EPA argued in January that the Supreme Court acknowledged EPA is due some “leeway,” and that the rule’s opponents subscribe to an “unduly restrictive reading” of the Supreme Court’s ruling. In separate court filings on Friday, several states opposed to CSAPR and a coalition of industry and labor groups asked the court to vacate all or part of the rule, which went into effect on Jan. 1. The industry group briefing argues that EPA’s interpretation “would mean that no State could ever have a valid as-applied overcontrol challenge” and calls EPA’s arguments “inconsistent with the standard adopted by the Supreme Court for showing overcontrol.” Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 25. Industry groups filing: Filing from states, including Texas, Kansas, Florida and Ohio:

OBAMA, MERKEL TO TALK CLIMATE CHANGE: President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss climate change along with trade, terrorism and Russia during her visit to the White House today, according to the White House. Merkel has long been an ally for the administration on climate change, and Germany has taken significant steps toward deploying renewables and cutting its carbon emissions. Topping the climate agenda today will likely be the upcoming UN summit in Paris, where it is hoped an international agreement can be forged.

BOEM HOLDS FIRST FIVE-YEAR PLAN MEETINGS: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold the first of 20 public meetings today on its proposed 2017-2022 offshore drilling plan, which garnered criticism from environmentalists for opening up areas of the Atlantic and Arctic to offshore drilling and from Republicans for taking parts of the Arctic off the table and for not broadening leasing further. Unlike the EPA hearings that generally consist of a litany of speakers submitting formal oral comments, BOEM’s hearings are set up in an “open house” format with stations displaying information on the plan and process. Attendees can then submit written or electronic comments. Full listing of meetings:

— The heads of the American Petroleum Institute, the National Ocean Industries Association and the Independent Petroleum Association of America will hold a press call on the offshore drilling plan this morning. And the Center for Biological Diversity, which is critical of drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, is hauling its Frostpaw the Polar Bear mascot to join activists this afternoon outside the hotel. Other participating groups include Oceana and Friends of the Earth.


— The oil worker strike, the first big walkout in 35 years, continues to grow. CNN:

— Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry joins the board of Energy Transfer Partners. Des Moines Register:

— The UN Security Council is preparing a resolution targeting ISIL’s trade in oil and antiquities. New York Times:

— NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory’s Sunday launch is pushed back to today following a glitch. New York Times:

— American activists opposed to developing Canada’s oil sands petroleum tell the Canadian Press that they have been visited by FBI investigators after being involved in protests that delayed shipments of equipment to Canada’s oil sands region.

— Gulf Power will shut down two coal-fired generating units in Bay County, Fla. News Herald:

— The Washington Post profiles Peter Farrell, a Virginia delegate and son of Dominion chief Thomas Farrell:

— Tesla has hired more than 150 employees from Apple. Bloomberg:

— Rep. Dave Reichert says the GOP needs more conservationists. Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

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