Energy News for March 3, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on March 3, 2015

POLITICO Morning Energy for 3/3/2015

THE PIG STATE POWER BROKER: A dozen potential Republican presidential candidates are about to sit down, one by one, with the biggest GOP donor in Iowa — a multimillionaire few people outside the state have ever heard of. Bruce Rastetter, an agribusiness mogul who’s made a fortune in pork, ethanol and farm real estate, has long worked behind the scenes to help bankroll conservatives across the country, but Saturday is a coming out party of sorts for Rastetter as he hosts the first-ever Iowa Agriculture Summit.

It’s an unusually public gig for a donor: Rastetter will chat with each candidate on-stage for 20 minutes before 1,000 Iowans and dozens of media outlets. He’ll get to ask Jeb Bush what exactly he thinks about ethanol, pepper Scott Walker with questions about EPA regulations and quiz Marco Rubio about where he stands on GMO labeling, if he wants. POLITICO’s Helena Bottemiller Evich tells you want you need to know:

GRIJALVA: PART OF CLIMATE PROBE WAS ‘OVERREACH’: In Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s request for information last week on seven university professors, the Arizona Democrat sought both financial information as well as drafts of, and communications about, each academic’s testimony to Congress. But late yesterday, his tune changed a bit. “The communications back-and-forth is honestly secondary, and I would even on my own say that that was an overreach in that letter,” Grijalva told National Journal’s Ben Geman. “I want the disclosure [of funding sources]. Then people can draw their own conclusions.” Grijalva stands by his effort to sniff out financial ties between fossil-fuel interests and climate research. National Journal:

As ME has noted before, Roger Pielke Jr., one of those targeted in Grijalva’s climate probe, is quite the prolific social media commentator, and last night was no different when he tweeted, after seeing the National Journal story: “A member of Congress drags academics through the mud and then say ‘never mind’. Unacceptable.”

KEYSTONE TIDBIT:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed for cloture on President Barack Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline veto message last night, setting up the vote to break the Democratic filibuster on the veto for Wednesday. The actual, ill-fated override vote is expected to come Thursday.

WELCOME TO TUESDAY. I’m your host, Darius Dixon, and I want to share the best description I’ve ever heard for retiring Sen. Barbara Milkulski. In 2012, when the Maryland Democrat was ascending to chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, POLITICO wise man David Rogers labeled her a “sawed-off shotgun from Baltimore.” Rogers’ story: Send your energy commentary, news, scoops and tips to, and follow us on Twitter @dariusss, @Morning_Energy and @POLITICOPro.

THE LONG LIFE OF RICHARD WINDSOR: A federal judge blasted the EPA for badly botching its response to a conservative group’s Freedom of Information Act request, but ultimately declined to punish the agency for its conduct. U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth delivered ( a brutal tongue-lashing to the EPA over its handling of a request from Landmark Legal Foundation about possible delays in regulations prior to the 2012 elections. The case helped expose that former EPA Administration Lisa Jackson had a semi-secret internal email account under the fake name Richard Windsor. POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein has more:

THE BEARER OF GOOD NEWS: Energy Information Administration chief Adam Sieminski is testifying before a subpanel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this afternoon for a discussion on world energy markets and security. Sieminski, who is the only government official at the witness table today, is prepared to talk a lot about the low low price of oil, judging by this prepared remarks. EIA expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices, which averaged $3.36 per gallon last year, to average $2.33 per gallon in 2015, his testimony notes (Granted, EIA’s projections have been off on these types of things before). Sieminski also notes that EIA plans to begin publishing monthly information on the movement of trains carrying crude oil and is working with counterparts in Canada and Mexico to validate data on cross border flows of energy by all modes and improve infrastructure mapping. Sieminski’s testimony: The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. in Rayburn 2123.

… THEN THERE’S CALIFORNIA: Retail gasoline prices have spiked 37 cents on the West Coast over the last week, according to the EIA — per-gallon costs went from $2.76 to $3.13. It’s worse if you pull out the numbers for California by itself, where gas prices went up 46 cents, to $3.42 a gallon. For comparison, the national average week-over-week increase was 14 cents per gallon. The numbers:

ENVIROS SAY NO-WAY TO ARCTIC DRILLER WAYSTATION:Earthjustice has filed a lawsuit asking the Washington state’s King County Superior Court to block a lease allowing the Port of Seattle to be a hub for Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet. “The Port entered into this lease without complying with the State Environmental Policy Act. … By circumventing SEPA and acting in violation of its shoreline permit, the Port made this controversial decision without the public process, candid disclosure, objective assessment and mitigation of environmental and community impacts, and public participation that the law requires,” the petition states. The lease was signed between the port and Foss Maritime. Earthjustice lawyers are representing the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council and Seattle Audubon Society. The lawsuit asks that the lease be voided and the Port of Seattle found in violation of SEPA, among other rules. The petition:

IPAA MEMBERS FLOOD THE ZONE: More than 80 member-companies of the Independent Petroleum Association of America are descending on Capitol Hill today and tomorrow as part of the group’s annual congressional “call up.” Those members, who have flown in this week from several states including Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas, have 150-plus meetings scheduled with House and Senate offices to urge lifting the U.S. crude oil export ban, discuss their concerns about forthcoming fracking rules, new endangered species listings and the industry’s tax provisions.

HOW’S YOUR C3H8 STACK UP WITH YOUR CH4:  The Propane Education and Research Council is out with a new report today lining up the greenhouse gas emission profile of propane across several applications compared with other fuels such as diesel, natural gas and electricity. According to the paper, propane use in residential space and water heating turn out fewer emissions than those systems running on electricity or fuel oil, which dominate the heating market in the Northeast. To the report’s credit, it does demonstrate a variety of vehicle applications where — while propane use may have fewer emissions than a gasoline-powered machine — electricity and natural gas have a smaller footprint than propane. Nexight Group and Energetics Inc. prepared the report:

DELAWARE’S CLIMATE COMMENT COLLECTION: Delaware is accepting comments on Gov. Jack Markell’s proposed framework to address climate change in the First state. The framework is designed around three overarching agenda items, mitigation, adaptation, and flood avoidance. The mitigation workgroup on the effort has called for a 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction from a 2008 baseline by 2030. Markell has previously voiced his concern for how climate change might impact his state’s agriculture business. The Delaware Division of Energy and Climate is collecting public comments through May 30. More info: The Framework:

THE TOWN STUCK BETWEEN OIL MONEY AND A BILL: The New York Times: “On Tuesday, the residents of Hermosa Beach are going to vote yet again on an oil and gas drilling initiative — whether to allow a contract with the energy company E&B Natural Resources Management to proceed despite a current drilling ban.” A vote to block drilling would mean the loss of about half of the city’s annual budget, or about $17.5 million, to E&B. “This quaint and quirky seaside community south of Los Angeles has had a conflicted relationship with the oil industry for close to a century. It has variously approved oil drilling, banned it, approved it and prohibited it again. During one yes-on-oil stretch, it contracted with an energy company to put 34 wells on a 1.3-acre city maintenance yard a few blocks from a stretch of beach that normally bustles with surfers and swimmers.” The New York Times:

REPORT: ROOFTOP SOLAR COSTS TO MOUNT IN LOUISIANA: A draft report prepared for the Louisiana Public Service Commission has found that there is more than 42 megawatts of rooftop solar in place under the panel’s jurisdiction. Between 2008 and 2013, utilities in the commission’s footprint reported a 180 percent growth in rooftop solar. And the figure could go up to about 78 megawatts, even with the Louisiana PSC’s current caps, states the draft report, written by Acadian Consulting Group. If those caps were removed, there could be 494 megawatts of rooftop solar by 2020. But there’s also a big drawback: “Ratepayer bills, under such a scenario, could increase by $809 million (in [net present value] terms) given the above referenced 2020 installation outlook.” The report:

Rooftop solar critics plan to pounce on the report today. The Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, a group made up mostly of business groups and companies, writes: “Data shows that not only is Louisiana’s generous public subsidy for solar power unsustainable from a budget standpoint, but the net metering requirement for utilities is shifting considerable grid costs from solar customers to non-solar customers.”


— Rollback of renewable-energy standards dies in Colorado Legislature. Denver Business Journal:

— Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change. The New York Times:

— Crude on Derailed Train Contained High Level of Gas. The Wall Street Journal:

— Solar energy’s unexpected conservative backers. CNBC:

— Can Fracking Pollute Drinking Water? Don’t Ask the EPA. Inside Climate News:

— EPA drops a new wave album’s worth of apologies about renewable fuels. Platts:

— Oil, gas driller Nabors posts loss on writedowns. Nabors:

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