Energy News for March 17, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on March 17, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 3/17/2015 

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Darren Goode, Alex Guillén and Elana Schor

OBAMA SLAPS FOSSIL FUEL ‘SHILLS’ ON CAPITOL HILL: Too many lawmakers are “shills” for fossil-fuel companies that oppose acting on climate change, President Barack Obama said in an interview released Monday — though he’s optimistic that young, environmentally conscious voters will eventually prompt the GOP to change its tune. “In some cases … you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry and there’s a lot of money involved,” Obama said in an interview with Shane Smith, founder of the website Vice. “Typically in Congress, the committees of jurisdiction, like the energy committees, are populated by folks from places that pump a lot of oil and pump a lot of gas.”
Obama acknowledged that some resistance to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions comes from people’s worries about economics. “You can’t fault somebody for being concerned about paying the bills and being able to fill up your tank to get to your job,” he said.

The GOP will change, the president thinks: “I guarantee you that the Republican Party will have to change its approach to climate change because voters will insist upon it,” Obama said.

On Sen. Jim Inhofe’s infamous little friend: Asked about one example — a recent stunt in which Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe tossed a snowball on the Senate floor while arguing against human-caused global warming — Obama said, “That’s disturbing.” Andrew Restuccia has more:

IHS SURVEYS THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF LOW OIL PRICES: Lower oil prices create havoc not just in the oil patch but in the supply chain across the country and add greater impetus for lifting the 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude exports, argues a report out today from IHS CERA. The drop in prices and continued gap between the cost of oil in the U.S. and globally “makes this a much more urgent question” on whether to lift the export ban, IHS CERA Chairman Dan Yergin told ME. And the impact on supply chains — including in manufacturing, IT and financial services — in many congressional districts is “one of the things that really surprised us,” Yergin said.

The supply-chain impact is probably not something the Commerce Department has focused on in considering whether to lift the export ban, Yergin said. Congressional talks on the export ban are proceeding slowly in part because of concerns from domestic refiners that they would lose their competitive advantage if their international competitors got access to U.S. oil. But Kurt Barrow, lead author of the IHS CERA study, says it underscores the U.S. refining industry will still be “very competitive in the world” if the export ban is lifted. The report:

HAPPY TUESDAY and Happy St. Patty’s Day! Check out Washingtonian magazine for a decent list of places in the area to get your green on: Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

RETURN OF THE FRAC (ACT): Senate and House Democrats are planning to reintroduce legislation tomorrow that would repeal the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act and require the disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing. Known as the “FRAC Act,” the bill — which has eight Senate cosponsors, led by Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey — is a top priority of green groups and first emerged in 2009.

In case you didn’t get 1990s headline reference: You can thank Elana Schor for getting that stuck in your head all day.

LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT: Although the hearings going on today on Capitol Hill won’t be peppered with Cabinet-level witnesses like they were a few weeks ago — many are “discussion” hearings — it doesn’t make them any less energy-related. So, in order to help keep your schedule organized, let ME give you the shape of things to come:

— The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing on the state of technology related to the electric grid at 10 a.m. in Dirksen 366. Argonne National Lab director Peter Littlewood, Electric Power Research Institute chief Michael Howard and three others are set to testify.

— The House will hold five energy-related hearings before breaking for lunch. Energy Department undersecretary for science and energy Franklin Orr, and three assistant secretaries, are slated testify before the House Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water at 10 a.m. in Rayburn 2362-B. At the same time, elsewhere in Rayburn, the Science Committee and an Energy and Commerce subpanel are holding hearings on the EPA’s proposed ozone standards and its draft carbon regulations, respectively.

SPEAKING OF EPA’S OZONE PROPOSAL: Public comments on the EPA’s draft National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone are due today and there are already more than 51,000 submissions. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from adding your two cents. You can find the docket here:

EPA BILL TO GETS SOME FLOOR ACTION: The House is scheduled to debate four potential amendments to Rep. Frank Lucas’ EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act today. The bill was originally slated to be on the floor before a D.C. area snowstorm drove lawmakers out of town nearly two weeks ago. The amendments, one Republican and three Democratic, are available near the bottom of this page:

But it’s a Dead Bill Walking. The White House threatened to veto the GOP EPA bill, saying that it would expand industry access to EPA’s Science Advisory Board and would weaken its “scientific independence and integrity” by altering requirements for who can serve on the panel. The House Rules Committee also approved a rule two weeks ago for Science Chairman Lamar Smith’s Secret Science Reform Act, which the White House similarly threatened to veto and saying the bill “would impose arbitrary, unnecessary, and expensive requirements that would seriously impede the [EPA’s] ability to use science to protect public health and the environment.” Smith’s bill could reach the floor later this week.

GREENS PUSH FOR A ‘CLEAN’ ‘16: The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund is rolling out a five-figure online ad buy in D.C. and select states encouraging 2016 candidates to “run clean.” The campaign, a biennial rollout for NRDC Action Fund, this year features video interviews with Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, Brian Schatz, and Gary Peters talking about how they used clean energy and climate change to win in the 2014 midterm elections. The previous edition of the Running Clean campaign included interviews with Sens. Tim Kaine, Mazie Hirono, Martin Heinrich, and Jon Tester. In addition to the video series, the group also produced its first “Running Clean” infographic featuring Peters as “a roadmap for future candidates who want solid evidence that supporting clean energy and protecting the environment will help provide them a path to electoral victory.” The new videos and info:

COMING TODAY — PRELIMINARY CVD DUTIES ON LINE PIPE: The Commerce Department today intends to announce whether South Korea and Turkey are subsidizing their welded line pipe, along with preliminary countervailing duty levels if there is an affirmative finding. The trade complaint over the pipe, which is used in oil and gas pipelines, was filed last year by eight U.S. companies — including Welspun Tubular, the Arkansas-based company that manufactured more than 700 miles of pipe for the U.S. portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. The American manufacturers say Korean and Turkish companies get unfair government subsidies and have been “dumping” their products in the U.S. market. The U.S. imported $543.6 million worth of welded line pipe from Korea last year, and another $94.7 million worth from Turkey. This is the second energy-related pipe import the Commerce Department has taken action on recently; last year the government slapped duties on oil country tubular goods from several nations, including South Korea.

WIND AREA EQUALS PI BLADE^2: The Energy Department has $1.8 million to hand out to projects working on making wind turbine blades longer than 60 meters. Increasing blade length isn’t just an academic exercise. As those who celebrated Pi Day last weekend know, the area able to be covered by a wind turbine is determined by the squared length of the blades — meaning even small increases in blade length can significantly increase potential output. Application details via DOE:

‘AGREEMENT’ Vs. ‘ANNOUNCEMENT’: The American Council for Capital Formation is out today with a new seven-page factsheet/explainer on the U.S.-China carbon emissions pledge made in November that attempts to separate “myth from reality.” The explainer differentiates between “announcement” and “agreement,” which mean different things in diplomat-speak. Republican arguments that the U.S.-China “announcement” will harm the U.S. economy “actually feed the narrative that the joint statement is something that it is not — an agreement with some type of commitment.” The explainer:


— N.J. Senate condemns Christie’s Exxon settlement.

— Iran Nuclear Deal Could Open Oil Flood. The Wall Street Journal:

— Chicago: A ‘Bomb Train’ Kind Of Town? Chicagoist:

— 5 Ways Energy Is Transforming U.S. Railroads. Scientific American:

— Prices Fall to a Six-Year Low for U.S. Oil. The New York Times:

— West Virgina Governor Signs Restrictive Net Metering Bill. Cleantechnica:

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