- The Wall Street Journal: Nasdaq to Launch Energy Futures Market
- American City Business Journals: NextDecade plans $14B worth of LNG projects in Texas
By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Alex Guillén, Erica Martinson, Elana Schor
TANK YOU: Following a series of derailments across North America, the Canadian government has proposed tougher standards for tank cars used to transport crude oil by rail, including a thicker hull and thermal protection jackets. Canada’s announcement comes on the heels of an earlier decision to quickly phase out older DOT-111 cars, which are in the process of being replaced by newer CPC-1232 cars. But the most recent series of fiery derailments and punctured cars involved CPC-1232s; Canada’s new standards would require even those to be phased out by 2025. Canada’s new proposal calls for tank car hulls to be increased to 9/16-inch thickness. It also mandates thermal jacketing and increased end shields. The new standard would be dubbed TC/DOT-117.
ON WITH THE WIND: Several sources tell ME that the Obama administration will release its big “Wind Vision” report today outlining a path for the country to get more electricity from wind power in the future. DOE wouldn’t confirm whether the report will be out today, but a draft circulated last year predicted that, with the right policies, incentives and market conditions, wind power could provide 10 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020, a little more than double what it provides now. The draft (http://1.usa.gov/1r2tKNK) also said the U.S. could reach 20 percent wind power by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.
MURKOWSKI ITEMIZES KING COVE AIRLIFTS: The Coast Guard has carried out 23 medevacs since December 23, 2013 — the date the Interior Department rejected “a short, one-lane, gravel, non-commercial road” through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge for the community of King Cove, said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Compounding my frustration,” Murkowski adds, “was your inability to name any concrete action that you have taken — or intend to take — to protect the health and safety of the nearly 1,000 Alaskans who live in this isolated community.” The letter: http://politico.pro/1b3SWMA
YOU’VE MADE IT TO THURSDAY. I’m your host, Darius Dixon, and although mini-ME still won’t rollover, he’s still pretty damn cute, thank you very much: http://politico.pro/1B7t8nE. Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.
ME FIRST: NEXTGEN HITS SENATE GOP ON KEYSTONE EMINENT DOMAIN VOTE: Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer’s political action committee is releasing a memo today that hits more than 30 GOP senators for opposing an amendment during January’s Keystone XL debate that would have ?barred the use of eminent domain to benefit foreign-owned corporations such as pipeline backer TransCanada. The NextGen Climate memo juxtaposes each Republican’s vote against the Democratic eminent domain amendment with previous statements they had made in defense of private property rights. “Would Senate Republicans be willing to give up their home, uproot their lives, and relocate their families all for the benefit of a foreign oil company?” the memo asks. “Is a project that only creates 35 permanent jobs and transports dirty tar sands, which threatens our air and water quality, worth the hypocrisy?”
A spokesperson for the Steyer-backed PAC hinted at more potshots to come for Republicans, adding to ME: “Stay tuned for more from NextGen Climate leading up to the President’s decision.” Interestingly, two Republicans backed the eminent domain amendment as it went down to defeat earlier this year: presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a perennial GOP running-mate shortlister.
THE NEW FOOD FIGHT: Frustrated by the growing confusion around Washington’s RFS policy, the trade group for the small industry that’s seeking to turn non-food crops into energy called on Congress to change the rules backed by the giant ethanol industry that contributes about 10 percent of the nation’s transportation fuel supply. Advanced Biofuels Association President Michael McAdams yesterday said the group is starting a campaign to lobby Congress to extend and revamp the RFS to better help cellulosic and other advanced biofuels because the current policy quagmire was stunting their growth. Darren Goode: http://politico.pro/1Edh9d1
There’s no there, there, says Advanced Ethanol Council’s Brooke Coleman: “There is no rift in the biofuels industry. There has always been one of many groups trying to open up the RFS, and that group announced today that its efforts will continue. Not a single first mover in the commercial deployment of cellulosic ethanol supports the effort to open up the RFS or somehow break with the coalition that got the policy done in the first place and continues to defend it. First and second generation ethanol producers are unified and will remain so, even if that disappoints the oil industry and its assets.”
I AWAIT THE SCIENCE-JOKE POLICE: NRC Commissioner Jeff Baran graciously accepted ME’s science joke pitch yesterday and, after reading it on-stage, told the audience to “Please send all complaints about that joke to Darius Dixon, care of Politico Pro.” Always glad to help another new dad, Commissioner. I’ll attribute the somewhat lackluster applause to a drowsy audience. But every proper science joke should make you groan audibly before you chuckle.
SO … NO YUCCA MOUNTAIN PUTT-PUTT RANGE? The Energy Department doesn’t have any plans to repurpose Yucca Mountain, it told inquisitive lawmakers recently. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans last month asked DOE and the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency if they had any plans to repurpose the waste repository. “I can tell you that DOE has not received a proposal from DTRA to use the Yucca Mountain site for any purpose,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy John Kotek wrote in a letter dated March 4 and released yesterday. “In addition, we have been informed that DTRA does not intend to make such a proposal.” A DTRA spokesman last month denied any interest in Yucca. DOE’s letter: http://politico.pro/1Al8O23 (h/t Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Tetreault)
Imagine what you’re missing out on: They could repurpose the radiation alarm as the siren that goes off when you get the ball through the windmill.
WE READ THIS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO: The NRC’s notice to produce a supplemental environmental impact statement on Yucca Mountain is being published in today’s Federal Register. The notice says that NRC staff expect to finish the supplemental EIS within 12 to 15 months and a draft version is slated to come out late this summer. The agency will take public comment after the draft comes out and hold meetings at its Rockville, Md., headquarters, in addition to two public meetings in Nevada, and a public conference call. Other NRC documents say the supplemental EIS will cost up to $2 million. The notice: http://1.usa.gov/1E7jNyq
Meanwhile, the Energy Department’s draft rule for residential furnaces is also running in today’s FR. The draft rule is expected to save consumers anywhere between $3.1 billion and $16.1 billion by 2050. Industry has already aired concerns about the long-delayed proposal and the draft rule itself projects that while some harmful emissions will go down, others will go up. Efficiency advocates are defending the rule: http://bit.ly/1GtPrJ1. And the rule: http://1.usa.gov/1xeFw4S. The agency is holding an all-day public meeting on the draft rule two weeks from tomorrow.
THIS IS HOW PEOPLE WILL LEARN ABOUT NORTH DAKOTA OIL: Via TVLine: “Chace Crawford is getting his hands dirty this pilot season. The Gossip Girl star has been tapped to lead ABC’s Boom, in which one of the largest oil discoveries in American history leads to an economic explosion in a North Dakota town. Crawford’s character, a natural-born hustler named Billy, moves to the town of Bakken with girlfriend Kelly in the hopes of escaping substantial debt — potentially risking both of their lives in the process.” http://bit.ly/1BylztW
RICHARD WINDSOR, EPISODE #247: Before folks ever heard about Hillary Clinton’s alternate email account, there was plenty to say about Richard Windsor. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit in federal district court yesterday over the EPA’s “slow-walking” of a Freedom of Information Act request for all of former Administrator Lisa Jackson’s emails under her infamous “Richard Windsor” alias. The EPA previously released more than 3,000 emails from the account, but after CEI asked for everything else in 2012, the agency has said it can only process 100 a month — one-thirtieth the rate of its previous processing, CEI pointed out to the court. “EPA has repeatedly indicated this glacial and wholly improper rate of production are related to the fact that this request was submitted by CEI,” the brief said. The agency’s “efforts frustrate the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act,” CEI said. The brief: http://politico.pro/1FclpeD
A MOMENTARY CLIMATE KERFUFFLE: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy perked the ears of many a climate watcher when she called for a “legally binding agreement” in Paris during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday. Officials have long waivered over what to call the expected outcome of international climate change agreements, but one thing is certain — there’s a near-zero percent chance that the Senate would sign off on a treaty. When asked later in the program what she meant by “legally binding,” and if she was calling for a treaty, McCarthy responded: “No, I try not to call for anything in the international context. No, I wasn’t. That wasn’t an implication.”
THE NEW EVERGREEN LAB DIRECTOR: Steven Ashby, a computational scientist, will lead the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, Wash., effective April 1, the lab announced. He’s been deputy director for science and technology at PNNL since 2008 and is taking over for retiring director Mike Kluse. Ashby is something of lab-jumper. He came to PNNL after spending nearly 21 years at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore Lab.
— The Water Footprint of California’s Energy System, 1990 — 2012. The Pacific Institute: http://bit.ly/18C41Ti
— Calif. desert renewable energy plan is altered to win counties’ support. The LA Times: http://lat.ms/1GH7vmk
—Michigan Lawmakers offer dramatically different energy plans. The Detroit Free Press: http://on.freep.com/1EdmfpL
— Battery Hackers Are Building the Future in the Garage. Bloomberg: http://bloom.bg/1Am258eTags: energy, fuel, gas, oil