Energy News for March 23, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on March 23, 2015


POLITICO Morning Energy for 3/23/2015

By DARIUS DIXON, with help from Darren Goode, Erica Martinson, and Andrew Restuccia

CRUZ: FIRST OFFICIAL 2016ER: Doing away with the “exploratory” phase of his 2016 presidential run, Sen. Ted Cruz officially announced his candidacy just after midnight and is slated to seal the deal with a speech at Liberty University this afternoon. This makes him the first declared candidate in either party and your host appreciates Cruz’s just-rip-the-bandage-off approach here.
On energy, Cruz doesn’t have a lot of surprises: He wants to see the crude oil export ban lifted, supports unfettered liquefied natural gas exports to all World Trade Organization countries, sees the EPA’s proposed power plant rule as a threat to jobs and electric reliability and backs the Keystone XL oil pipeline (although more than a year ago he urged fellow Republicans to consider an energy agenda “bigger than Keystone”).

Cruz has co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard over a period of five years, and when he spoke at an agriculture summit in RFS-loving Iowa earlier this month, he stuck to his guns. “The answer you’d like me to give is ‘I’m for the RFS, darn it,’” Cruz responded to Bruce Rastetter, the agribusiness mogul who organized the summit. “That’d be the easy thing to do. But people are pretty fed up with politicians that run around and tell one group one thing and tell another group another thing. Then they go to Washington and don’t do anything they said they would do.”

JERRY BROWN: CRUZ ‘UNFIT’ OVER CLIMATE COMMENTS: Hours before Cruz officially announced his run for the White House, California Gov. Jerry Brown, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that Cruz’s position on climate change should disqualify the Texas Republican for the presidency. “That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data. It’s shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office,” Brown said. Tell us how you really feel, governor.

Brown was responding to comments Cruz made last week on “Late Night with Seth Meyers”: “My view actually is simple,” Cruz said. “Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. Many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up. In particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there’s been zero warming.” POLITICO’s David Cohen:

According to Bloomberg’s David Weigel, Cruz fired back at Brown last night during an interview with Breitbart radio: “If Jerry Brown really wanted to hurt me politically, what he could do is praise my leadership.”

FERC PROTESTORS HIT AGENCY BUREAUCRACY: One of the most technocratic agencies in the federal government has become an unlikely magnet for unruly eco-protesters. That’s turned meetings of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission into monthly spectacles far different from the agency’s usually dry debates about transmission planning, pricing disputes and electric reliability standards. Activists angry about fracking and climate change are chanting, shouting and squatting on the floor until uniformed officers haul them away — and, of course, they’re uploading the whole drama to YouTube. The activists plan to go even bigger in May, when they hope to draw at least 500 people for a weeklong series of protests against the agency, and some intend to be arrested. But those who know the agency — and its limits — say the protestors are barking up the wrong jurisdictional tree in the battles over addressing climate change.

Former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, a Democrat: “Commissioners are pretty disciplined people, and they’re charged with making decisions based on the evidence of record,” said Wellinghoff. “Anything outside of that I think is a huge waste of time and money and effort.” Alex Guillén explains it all, and how some protestors see potential for an analogy between FERC, climate change and… Watergate:

HAPPY MONDAY, folks. Your morning host here, Darius Dixon, started to sweat just by looking at photos of the underground coal fire in Jharia, India, that’s been burning for nearly a century. Wired: The most famous long-running coal fire in the U.S. — under Centralia, Penn. — is only 50 years old. Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

** America’s national forests, wildlife refuges, parks, and public lands belong to all Americans. But misguided Congressional and state efforts to seize public lands put this at risk. These are American Lands, and we should keep them American. Watch the ad and learn more: **

BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS are back in town today but once they wrap up at the end of the week, lawmakers take a two-week recess for Easter and Passover. The Senate convenes at noon to begin debate on the fiscal 2016 budget resolution. A roll call vote is slated for 5:30 p.m. The House will hold a vote series at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

GREENS GROAN OVER EMBRACE OF FRACFOCUS: The Interior Department’s new fracking rule gives greens some of what they wanted in requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they inject underground. But it also relies heavily on an industry-backed disclosure website that environmentalists say needs reform. FracFocus, backed by the industry and created in 2011 by two groups of state-level regulators, provides a forum for oil and gas companies to disclose the identities of chemicals used in the fracking process to address concerns about the potential risk to groundwater.

Chemical data from more than a dozen states are now posted on the FracFocus website, though green groups have long criticized the privately run FracFocus as more favorable toward the industry than a government-run, public forum would be. They also want to see the data made more easily accessible. Anti-fracking activists want to see the website integrate changes recommended last year by a task force at the Energy Department, such as a “systems-based” disclosure method that would limit trade-secrets exemptions while meeting the industry’s concerns about sharing proprietary recipes. Elana Schor has more:

In case you didn’t have that Secretary of Energy Advisory Board task force report handy: And what DOE thought of the report:

MORE JERRY BROWN: The California governor also sniped at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on “Meet the Press,” calling the Kentucky Republican’s suggestion that states resist the EPA’s climate rule “a disgrace.” NBC News:

DEESE ALSO DISSED MCCONNELL: President Barack Obama’s senior adviser Brian Deese said McConnell was “going way outside the bounds of his position” by sending the letter to governors Thursday that advocates rejecting upcoming EPA rules limiting CO2 emissions from power plants, Deese said at a media event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor Friday. “And I think we all would be better served if he and others spent less time trying to lecture states about what they should be doing … and more time trying to actually get some constructive things done in Congress.”

THE HARVARD CLIMATE FIGHT CONTINUES: For those of you who aren’t regular readers of Harvard Law Today, you may have missed the latest chapter in a set of dueling opinion pieces posted by professors at President Obama’s alma mater over the constitutionality of his climate change plans. After posting an initial critique of Laurence Tribe’s testimony last week that the EPA’s carbon rule for power plants is unconstitutional — and Tribe’s response — fellow professors Jody Freeman and Richard Lazarus have written a reply to Tribe’s reply that went up Saturday. “Our colleague Larry Tribe’s response to our initial posting serves as a reminder of why he is widely celebrated as one of the nation’s most effective advocates,” the Freeman and Lazarus wrote. “On the merits, though, we are no more persuaded.” The latest:

WELCOME BACK! Rosemarie Calabro Tully, who has been energy press secretary for the Bipartisan Policy Center for more than two and a half years, is returning to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. She’ll be leading the communications effort for panel Democrats under Sen. Maria Cantwell. Calabro Tully helped run the same press shop under former Democratic chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who didn’t run for re-election in 2012.

ENERGY, COMMERCE TO LEAD DELEGATION TO CHINA: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will lead a U.S. “business development mission” on a three-city tour in China next month. The goal of the trade mission, which will include a delegation of 25 U.S. companies, is to help launch or increase American business operations in China for “smart growth” products such as those that improve building energy efficiency, utilize carbon capture technologies and expand greener options for transportation. More:

BOEM, BOEM BOEM BOEM: Critics of Shell’s Arctic drilling plans are expecting the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to validate a 2008 lease sale this week tied to the company’s effort. That record of decision comes after Interior was forced more than a year ago to reexamine Lease Sale 193 when a federal appeals court challenged estimates for economically recoverable oil in the area. Last month, Interior published a final environmental assessment, which considered “the highest amount of production that could reasonably result” from exploring the Chukchi lease sale region. And the required 30-day clock before Interior can announce a record of decision after that assessment is published runs out tomorrow, and BOEM appears to be wasting little time. It will be the last checked box needed before BOEM begins its formal review of Shell’s plan to resume exploratory drilling this summer. Arctic drilling critics hope the agency will take its time. But Interior’s recently proposed Arctic drilling safety standards — largely reflecting talks between Shell and Interior — as well as recent comments from Interior officials suggest Shell’s summer drilling plans won’t be jeopardy.

DOE ADVISORY BOARD RELEASES LAB RECOMMENDATIONS: A Secretary of Energy Advisory Board task force has released its draft interim report aimed at providing recommendations about ways to improve “the health and management” of the Energy Department’s national labs. Among its many findings, the interim report said that “a proliferation of duplicative and burdensome requirements are choking the DOE National Laboratories.” In all, the draft report includes 15 recommendations, including that DOE leadership assign responsibilities more clearly among the six entities that have hand in overseeing the labs. The panel, whose second phase extends into December, is taking written comments on the draft through Friday. More info: And the draft report:


— Inside the $24-million, two-year federal plan to market Canadian oil. The Globe and Mail:

— Return to $100 Oil Seen Unlikely by Saudis Amid Shale Surge. Bloomberg:

— Roar of bombers replaced by drone buzz in North Dakota. The Associated Press:

— Leased solar panels can complicate — or kill — a home sale. The Los Angeles Times:

— Oil Price Drop Hurts Spending on Business Investments. The Wall Street Journal:

— Capitol Crude Oil Podcast on exports and how the industry finds itself in the midst of a “body swap” movie. Platts:

— Paris bans even-numbered plates from roads in bid to halt air pollution.

— Switching to electric cars would help cool down cities. Engadget:

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